The Eos hardtop convertible has never sold in great numbers in the United States, and to understand why—and also to appreciate all its great attributes—it is helpful to examine it from the European perspective. For this is one VW that really seems designed to best serve on the Continent, not here.To start with, it is small, and perhaps more importantly, it looks small. While this compactness makes it easy to park in congested European cities, it works against the Eos in the land of the Big Gulp, where it seems a bit too petite for its price. While others (MINI, Fiat) have gotten away with small, cute and expensive, that’s harder to do with a mainstream brand like Volkswagen, especially when the Eos isn’t visually dramatic; its elegant yet conservative good looks actually work against it.
Inside too, it seems to underwhelm many occupants. I found it classy and well thought out, with a surprising amount of room (with enough space for four in a pinch) both in the cabin and in the trunk, despite the folding metal top. And that roof is a work of genius, with a built-in sliding glass sunroof that companies like Mercedes charge buyers a huge premium to experience.
But that metal top is also part of the Eos’ problem, in that it constantly emits squeaks and the occasional rattle, undermining the sense of quality VW is striving to project. This seems endemic to these larger folding metal roofs, afflicting even extremely expensive cars. In the European context, though, that metal top is essential to reduce petty crime, as sliced cloth convertible tops are a common occurrence across much of the Continent.
What’s equally at home on both landmasses is the Volkswagen’s great powertrain matchup of 2-liter, 200hp turbo and six-speed DSG twin-clutch transmission. Combining seamless shifts, zippy acceleration (0-60 in just over six seconds) and real-world mid-20s fuel economy, it is an excellent choice to power the Eos.
Likewise the Volkswagen’s ride/handling trade off seems well resolved, or at least as much as can be expected for such a small, light car with a huge hole cut out of its structure. For it does suffer from a fair amount of scuttle shake and other symptoms of reduced torsional rigidity (hence those annoying squeaks). But lower the top on a sunny day, power the four windows up with one “global” switch, and all is forgiven. The warmth, smells and sensations that make open-top motoring so addictive flood the cabin with very little unseemly wind buffeting or extra noise. The Eos seats are comfortable, the driving position great, and the steering wheel a pleasure to hold.
Despite not being optimum for most American settings, it is hard not to really like the Eos and appreciate it as one of the only affordable four-seat convertibles you can get here Stateside.
Fuel economy: 22/30mpg
Price as tested: $40,420
Here is what VW has to say about the Eos.