Sunday, June 19, 2011

2012 Volkswagen Eos Lux Review – Cabriolet reborn

2012 Volkswagen Eos


  • Surprisingly fast acceleration
  • Revised styling is more sophisticated
  • Refined interior & build quality
  • Proportions are a bit awkward with the top up
  • Automatic hardtop takes patience
  • Small trunk space
The last time I even thought about a VW convertible was in high school drooling over the hot blonde cheerleader with a white ’87 Rabbit-based Cabriolet with a matching canvas top. So when my editor called about the Eos I was conflicted. It brought back some fun high school memories but I also had to decide whether I was man enough to drive a chick car. I’m glad I said yes. The Eos represents the top end of the VW convertible line-up, capping the range that will start with the new Beetle soft top and the upcoming Euro-only(for now) 2012 Golf Cabrio soft top. The new VW Eos Lux was fun to drive with the top up or down. Usually the mid-cycle model refresh is focused mostly on the innards with just minor exterior updates, but the 2012 VW Eos received a fairly significant face-lift, and it is all the better for it. Gone are the roundish headlights with the vertically-stretched chrome grille with matching round taillights, and in are the new VW corporate looks both on the front and back. The new design is more sophisticated and less cutesy than the original Eos. The 2.0 turbo four carries over mated to a 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic and Sport mode.
2012 Volkswagen Eos

Driving Impressions
Frankly I was not ecstatic about driving the Eos. Playing with the folding hardtop, yes, but driving the FWD 4-banger was not that enticing to me. But I was pleasantly surprised. Drop the gearshift into Sport mode and floor the accelerator, and you’ll be redlining in no time and peeling out. Yes, I was actually burning rubber off the line in this subcompact FWD four-cylinder Eos.
The turbo helps with the boost but the 207 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1,800-5,000 RPM makes driving this Eos quite fun. The 200 HP comes at 5,100 RPM and passing cars on the freeway was a breeze. For its size, the Eos is pretty heavy thanks to its 5-piece folding hard top, and 0-60 is pegged at 7.3 seconds. But it feels faster than that. Torque steer is a typical problem with high-power FWD cars, but it’s not too noticeable in the Eos. Guess it doesn’t exactly qualify as “high-power.” But hey, you don’t buy the Eos for the performance. There are plenty of other performance drop tops like the Nissan 370Z or the BMW Z4.
2012 Volkswagen Eos
Driving the Eos with the hardtop folded down was fun. Yes, it messes up your hair and no, the rear passengers get a lot of wind in their faces but it’s not that common these days to be able to share a convertible driving experience with 3 other passengers. I was actually able to fit a child seat in the back (after half an hour and lots of curse words) and took my toddler for a ride. He didn’t enjoy it as much as I did (too much wind) but I cant do that in a Z4. The Eos also has a unique sunroof option that is very wide and you can tilt it or open it just like in a hardtop car.

2012 Volkswagen Eos
The 2012 Eos is a significant improvement over the first generation car in terms of exterior appearance. As I mentioned in the intro, the frontend is much more sophisticated looking with the new wide VW corporate grille and Golf-like headlight units. The original rounded headlights with the chrome face grille always disturbed me somewhat. Too cute. The squared-off taillights are also much more expensive-looking than the previous round units. Other than that, the overall proportions and shape of the Eos remain the same.
The lack of the B pillar is great for visibility and gives the Eos a clean profile with the top up. I wish the proportions were better worked out, however, as the Eos seems a bit too short especially with the fast sloping rear window that looks like it’s pushing the entire greenhouse forward. The FWD architecture means a long overhang with the front axle sitting well aft of the engine. The Volvo C70 hardtop convertible also has a long overhang but the longer length and wheelbase of the Volvo give the C70 much better proportions with the top up. The Eos is definitely more attractive with the top down.
Leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel
Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
The interior of the 2012 Eos is refined and the quality of the materials is what one can expect from a $39k car. There is leather over most surfaces the driver touches with metallic-appearance accents in all the right places. The Lux and Executive trims also come with burled walnut trim on the dashboard, doors and center console. I don’t even know what burled means but it sounds expensive. 12-way adjustable front seats with 4-way lumbar support are also available in the Lux and Executive trims.
The steering-wheel mounted controls are not too overwhelming and allow the driver to mess with a decent amount of phone, voice-control, cruise control, menu options, and the nav/audio touch screen unit on the center console is intuitive and easy to reach. The new VW interior feels rich but not decadent, if that makes any sense. With the folding hardtop up the interior is fairly quiet, you can hardly tell that this car is a convertible. The fit of the roof is impeccable. Visibility out of the sides is fantastic thanks to the missing B pillars.
2012 Volkswagen Eos iPod interface
The base trim Eos Komfort starts at just under $34k, and the top-of-the-range Executive trim starts at just over $39k. The nicely-appointed tester was a mid level Lux trim and MSRPs at a tad over $38k with destination. Its closest competitors are probably the Saab 9-3 convertible and the aforementioned Volvo C70 folding hardtop convertible, both of which are more expensive. The Eos has the lowest starting price of the three and is very competitive even at the Executive trim level. The Volvo C70 has a turbocharged 5 cylinder that produces 27 more horses, but starts out at $39k. The Saab 9-3 also has a 4-cylinder 2.0 liter turbo but is a tad bit slower than the Eos and it starts at just under $40k for the manual and over $41k or the automatic. And it only has a folding soft top.
Drop-Top Cars are Fun
The 2012 Volkswagen Eos is a great little 4-seater convertible. The folding hardtop is fun to watch and reminds me of Transformers. Its unique sunroof that opens up makes this an enjoyable car even when it’s not that warm out. I even had fun driving this FWD with a 2.0 4 cylinder. On top of that it’s a great deal when compared against the Volvo and the Saab. So what if the proportions are a bit awkward with the top up, you wouldn’t see that since you’re having fun cruising down the boulevard. And with the top down, you’d be too busy smiling with the wind in your hair. This VW Eos is a vast improvement over that white Cabriolet the cheerleader drove in high school, but boy do I miss watching her drive by with her other cheerleader friends standing in the back seat holding onto that signature basket handle rollover bar.

RATING 4.5 4.5 4.0 4.0 3.5 3.5 4.0/B
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