A drop top VW - how desirable. I take it the people's convertible is back?
Yes and no. True, the Eos is from the people's car maker and it effectively replaces the old Golf cabriolet. But that was a no frills soft top, so archaic it needed a big basket handle over the passenger compartment, to boost rigidity and hold up the roof. This VW is so much more advanced, it feels like the Starship Enterprise in comparison. Its folding steel roof is the most fearsomely complex on sale, one which makes a Rubik's Cube look as simple as a two-year-old's wooden puzzle. That technology doesn't come cheap. The Eos costs from £19,370 – some £2375 more than a Vauxhall Astra TwinTop. Its size, like its price, is midway between the Golf and Passat, and the Eos shares components from both.
Tell me more about that roof...
Naturally it's a folding tin top; the French have made them de rigeur in the mainstream cabrkio segment. But VW is keen to offer a bit more - hence the tinted and laminated glass panels, the integrated electric sunroof, adjustable sunshade and front and rear wind deflectors. Split into five pieces, the roof requires the co-operation of all sorts of hydraulics, levers and flaps and 25secs to take it up or down (to see the Eos in action go to www.volkswagen.co.uk/new_cars/eos).
And the outlook is…?
Meteorologists will love the Eos, with its peerless choice of draughts: calm (with only the sunroof open), mild (with the windows down), stormy (roof and windows down) and breezy (with the roof down but the windows and both wind deflectors in place). With the top down, it's an uncompromised convertible complete with an unimpeded view of the skies.
Thanks for the anemometer readings. Anything else notable inside…?
The roof's main advantage is that it allows for a conventionally shaped windscreen, which eliminates rivals' intimidating and solid looking windscreen header rails parked about two inches from your forehead. In coupé mode, the Eos is almost as quiet as a Golf. Scuttle shake and wind noise are well suppressed, the bodywork is free from rattles and squeaks. The cockpit is generic VW: strong on ergonomics, quality and features but you need the tart's boudoir red interior to add charisma, if not respectable taste. Like every retractable hard top, the roof has two drawbacks. One, it consumes more space than a soft top. It's the rear passengers who take most of the hit: the backrests are too steep, and there's little legroom. And luggage capacity shrinks from 380 litres to 210 litres with the roof down.
What's it like on the road?
That takes me neatly to the second drawback. With the 90kg roof protecting you from the elements, the centre of gravity is raised. So the Eos isn't going to charge effortlessly through winding roads; its raison d’etre is a genteel cruise. The chassis is forgiving and occasionally entertaining, the brakes have bite and stamina, the steering is light and easy if a little short of feedback. Performance from the Golf GTi's 2.0-litre turbo engine feels adequate but not rapid, which says it all about the Eos' mollifying nature. Other engines are the 1.6 and 2.0 FSI petrols, and the R32's 3.2-litre V6.
Naturally, you can choose an Eos with VW's superb DSG gearbox. This has a second clutch to pre-engage the next gear , enabling seamless acceleration without any lurching or fluffed changes. Available with the V6 or 2.0-litre turbo, DSG is a £1155 option. One other thing, you might wish to know is the derivation of the word Eos. She was the Greek goddess of dawn. Neat, eh.
The genteel Eos is the most technically advanced CC on the mainstream market. But there's something slightly tautological about a cabrio with a sun roof. Compare it with Vauxhalls's Astra TwinTop, which has a bigger boot, slower roof, duller interior, lower price. It all comes down to a question of choice, of which punters have got plenty. And the Focus CC comes soon…