8 / 10
The updated 2011 Volkswagen Eos hosts a range of cosmetic and technical enhancements to improve an already outstanding package.
It was back in 2005 that we first saw the Volkswagen EOS in its concept form at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The original Eos landed in Australian showrooms in 2007 and has since racked up more than 5500 customers. That’s a rather good accomplishment for a model that had no pre-existing name recognition or awareness.
At the time of its release, the Eos was a game-changing vehicle. A convertible that also housed a sunroof, it wasn’t something we were used to and even today no other competitor in its price bracket offers such a feature.
It was built on Volkswagen foundations, which meant it handled well, took the bumps with ease and carried Volkswagen’s hard-earned badge of reliability. Fast forward four years and the German company has given the Eos a facelift with exterior and interior cosmetic changes and a list of other improvements.
Before we get stuck into the ins and outs of the Eos, it’s good to understand a little bit about Volkswagen.
If you want to be the world’s largest automotive manufacturer, you have to stay ahead of the game. This means consistent improvements and a very steady and on-time product cycle. The Germans are known for their efficiency and Volkswagen has managed to prove that keeping a massive product line fresh is not as difficult as some would have you believe.
There is a potential downside to this continuous stream of updates: it’s getting a little hard to tell the Volkswagen models apart. The new Eos, Golf and even the Caddy have a very similar front-end. In the rearview mirror it’s almost impossible to tell the three apart at first glance. The cross-company image is something the Europeans have been doing for decades, but the current Volkswagen range takes the ‘company-face’ principle further than ever before.
In a way it’s a good thing as you can’t mistake a Volkswagen for anything else and that’s undoubtedly the point of the design philosophy.
The rear gets a more contemporary streamlined look thanks to a redesigned rear bumper and diffuser. There is also new two-part LED taillight setup and twin-exhaust pipes that complete the family look all around.
Volkswagen Eos customers are statistically not big fans of a manual transmission. To date, 85 percent of all Eos vehicles sold in Australia have been equipped with the German company’s DSG (dual-clutch) automatic transmission. In order to keep its product range as simple as possible and in response to market demand, the 2011 Eos is no longer offered with a manual transmission. With a current 60/40 split between petrol and diesel Eos sales, both 2.0-litre turbo petrol and diesel engines are maintained and remain mostly unchanged.
Fuel efficiency has improved by 0.2L/100km for both engines, with the 2.0-litre turbodiesel (103kW of power, 320Nm of torque) consuming 5.9L/100km and the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol (155W/280Nm) getting down to 7.7L/100km. In case you’re curious, the 2.0-litre petrol is the same unit as the one found in the current generation Golf GTI. So it’s a blast.
The convertible side of the business remains pretty much the same for the updated Eos. The five-part roof works like metal origami as it automatically transforms the Eos from a hardtop into a gorgeous convertible in 25 seconds. With the roof closed there is 380 litres of boot capacity, enough to store pretty much anything outside of furniture (and perhaps Golf clubs). Take the roof off and that goes down to 205 litres. Even so, we managed to easily fit two averaged size suitcases in the back without a hassle.
The new EOS gets leather trim standard and seats four comfortably. There is plenty of leg room front and rear and with the roof down, head room isn’t exactly an issue.
On the inside, the Eos is a Volkswagen to its core, so you’ll find it hard to tell its interior apart from the rest of the range. The front seats are spacious and comfortable plus they offer heating for those freezing nights when you just have to take the roof off. With the roof closed it’s a very quiet cabin with minimal road noise, but even when open you can easily hold a conversation when traveling at 110km/h.
Apart from the addition of standard leather, both models now come standard with an anti-theft alarm, USB media support (iPod/iPhone/USB sticks), Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming (a big tick in my books). The updated multimedia systems make using CDs relatively useless (but in case you still live in the 90s, it has a CD player a well). The eight-speaker audio system is top notch but if you’re serious about your sound system, $2000 will get you a Dynaudio Confidence 600-watt premium audio system with 10-channel amplifier and 10 speakers (not tested).
Around the hilly outskirts of Adelaide, we found the Eos to be as lively as ever. Anyone that says the Eos is a hairdresser’s car is going to have a big shock when the GTI powered variant screams past (especially if it’s red). With 155kW and 280Nm of torque, it accelerates from 0-100km/ in a respectable 7.8 seconds, but the in-gear acceleration feels much better than that. The diesel, despite it’s additional 40Nm of torque, is 2.5 seconds slower (10.3).
Herein lies a big dilemma for delivering a verdict on the Eos. I’d generally always recommend that if you’ve got the option for a diesel, it’s the better choice over the petrol in the long run. In the case of the Eos, it’s also $2000 cheaper (diesel – $49,990, petrol – $51,990), but it’s incredibly difficult to looks past the GTI engine.
Sure, the diesel uses 1.8L/100km less fuel, offers more torque and a better range, but the performance difference between the two is substantial enough to make me stick my neck out and recommend the petrol regardless. It’s the variant to buy if you enjoy taking the roof off and going for a spirited drive through the countryside. The diesel is the more logical choice, but really, you’re buying an Eos to enjoy the benefits of a convertible, logic shouldn’t be too high on the criteria list.
Ride and handling are superb given the application. The suspension is firm but still comfortable and although you can really feel the dismal state of our roads on the odd occasion, it’s still the sort of vehicle you can take for long distance drives without the need to visit a chiropractor at the end.
Around corners it’s surefooted and feels confident, even when pushed to its limits. There is noticeable torque-steer in the petrol variant when pushed hard coming out of corners but it’s easily manageable and hardly present when driven sedately.
Safety is guaranteed thanks in large to a hidden active rollover protection system as well as front and side airbags. Volkswagen has added daytime running lights and also offers Park Assist 2 as a $900 option. The Park Assist 2 system enabled the Eos to automatically park itself in a parallel park and in a bay. For some, the idea of a car that can park itself is still new so if that’s you, by all means go and try this out at your Volkswagen dealer because it’s real and easy to use.
If you want more bling, a sports package is offered at $2600 which adds 18-inch alloys wheels, adaptive chassis control and darker LED tail lights.
Overall, the updated Volkswagen Eos is now $500 more expensive than the previous model but improves an already excellent package with a unique offering in the segment. Volkswagen will soon launch the soft-top Golf Cabriolet to sit below the Eos as well, so there will be plenty of choice from ze Germans if roofless motoring tickles your fancy.