Retro Road Test – Volkswagen Eos & MG B
Could Eos be the modern day MG B?
- 2008 Volkswagen Eos Coupe Cabriolet Auto - $52,290 (RRP)
- 1968 MG B Roadster Four Speed Manual - $3,355 (when new)
When the opportunity arose to drive one of the most popular and well-loved roadsters of all time just so happened to coincide with my week of driving one of the most stunning coupe-cabriolets of the modern age, an idea was spawned - introducing our first Retro Road Test.
This review aims to combine the two loves (old cars and new cars) that so many of our reader’s share in what I hope will become a semi-regular column and an enjoyable comparison of appreciating just how far cars have come, and indeed what becomes of the cars that were once as popular as the old MG.
Eos has been a remarkable draw card for VGA (Volkswagen Group Australia) since going on sale here in January last year and we at CarAdvice have been lucky enough to have reviewed most variants of the stunning little coupe-cabriolet to this point.
Inspired by Aston Martin's DB2/4 the Thornley designed B was never meant to be as popular as it was, a sales surprise spanning three decades and some 512,243 units (9,090 in Australia), the B was Britain's most popular sports car and indeed MG's largest success.
Later sold all over the world the B was especially popular in the United States and was of course sold in Australia after being reassembled from complete knock down kit at BMC's Zetland plant in NSW.
Being a car of so many initiatives, the MG B was also one of the first cars to include controlled crumple zones boasting that both driver and passenger were fully protected in a frontal collision up to 30mph (48km/h), though I think somehow I'd prefer the airbags offered in the Eos for that one.
Pre-production crash test circa 1962
Originally the B was meant to have been in production for only five years, but due to unprecedented demand went on to be produced until 1980 when the last two examples were produced in October of that year (production for the Australian market having ceased in 1972).
The MG B (typical and as tested) was fitted with a 1.8 litre four cylinder overhead valve (pushrod operated) engine with twin SU (HS4) carburettors boosting the celebrated engine's performance to 71kW @ 5,500rpm and a respectable 149Nm from 3,000rpm.
Being a light car with rear wheel drive the MG is a delight to drive, and despite its age is still very popular with enthusiasts and car lovers alike. The little wave from other MG drivers in passing is reassurance that the little B is still very much adored among those who've taken the classic to heart.
The MG’s exhaust note has to be one of the most recognisable and distinctive sounds in motoring and sure to prick the ears of even the most die hard V8 fan, especially north of 3,500rpm. It’s not loud, it’s hardly ground pounding, but it has a raspy little bark that has not been emulated since.
Eos is of course a far more modern approach to motoring and although derived from the Passat (PQ46) platform is a stand alone model. Representing the best of both worlds the Portuguese built Eos was first introduced at the Geneva motor show in 2004 and offers the flexibility of enjoying either a smart, practical coupe – with a sunroof no less – or at the push of a button, and some 25 seconds, a beautiful open air convertible to see and be seen in.
The Eos name, like most in the Volkswagen range, comes from a word pertaining to wind, in this instance Eos is the Greek goddess of dawn and wind, and to anyone taking a back seat in the car with the top down I am sure the latter would be especially true - best option the wind breaker.
Offering not only style and comfort through its many creature comforts, the Eos also packs quite a punch with its Golf GTi sourced 2.0 litre turbo charged four cylinder offering a very tidy 147kW @ 5,100rpm and 280Nm from just 1,800 rpm. Though driven through the front wheels the Eos is still quite poised in terms of handling and offers performance around the eight second mark for the sprint to 100km/h.
Boasting a raft of safety features including ABS, EBA, EBD, ESP, Front and Side Airbags, Seat Belt Pre-Tensioners and Traction Control, the Eos makes for confident motoring even with the five piece roof in fold down mode with Active Roll Over Protection rounding out the standard safety features.
One thing I'd really like to have seen offered for the Australian market is the brilliant 3.2 litre V6 engine offered in North America and Europe which also comes with paddle shift DSG, though perhaps that's just the petrol-head in me.