Some cars deserve more attention than they get, and the 2014 Volkswagen Eos convertible is high on that list. First and foremost, there's the Eos model's fancy power hardtop, which folds away in 25 seconds and features a unique sunroof that can power open when the roof is closed. Then there's the car's luxurious interior and confident German feel on the highway. And it's a Volkswagen, so it must be reasonably priced, right?
Well, that's the thing. Although the Eos is a front-wheel-drive convertible with a faint resemblance to the Jetta sedan, the cheapest model starts at over $36,000. That's a lot of coin for a car that's considerably slower than the Ford Mustang V6 convertible, which costs many thousands less.
Then again, not everyone wants to look like a tourist in a rental car, so the Mustang may be off-limits, along with fellow airport mainstays such as the Chevrolet Camaro and Chrysler 200. And remember, the Eos model's trump card is that retractable hardtop; other than the Chrysler, no convertible with a backseat offers one of those in the Eos model's price range.
What's New for 2014?
The Eos can be equipped with VW's Car-Net telematics system, and the Lux trim level has been discontinued. Minor equipment adjustments round out the changes.
What We Like
Unique retractable hardtop with built-in sunroof; peppy and refined engine; high-quality interior
What We Don't
Not an athlete; not cheap; anonymous styling
The Eos is powered by a turbocharged 2-liter inline-4 rated at 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual is the only available transmission.
Fuel economy for the Eos is an Environmental Protection Agency rating of 22 miles per gallon city/30 mpg highway.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Volkswagen Eos hardtop convertible is available in three trim levels: Komfort, Sport and Executive.
The Komfort ($36,060) starts with 17-inch alloy wheels, a trip computer, a power driver's seat, heated front seats with adjustable lumbar, leatherette upholstery, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, an SD-based navigation system and a touchscreen 8-speaker audio system with iPod/Bluetooth connectivity, an auxiliary input and an SD-card reader.
The Sport ($38.790) adds 18-in alloy wheels, bi-xenon adaptive headlights, a rear spoiler, a lowered sport suspension, keyless entry/ignition, stainless steel pedals and a multifunction steering wheel with paddle shifters.
The Executive ($42,560) trim has its own 18-in alloys, the xenon headlights with washers, a sport-tuned suspension, an upgraded trip computer, a hard-drive-based navigation system with digital music storage and a 600-watt Dynaudio sound system.
Some of these high-end features are available on lower trims as options.
The big story with the Eos is, of course, its power-retractable hardtop, which lowers in 25 seconds and features an integrated power sunroof that both tilts and slides independent of the rest of the roof. It's a remarkable engineering achievement, especially given that the sunroof, at 44 in wide and 22 in deep, is one of the largest sliding panels in the business. There's even a manual sliding sunshade that lets you block overhead sunlight if you want. We're used to feeling claustrophobic in a convertible when the top's up, but the Eos truly provides the best of both worlds.
Although the Eos model's interior can be dressed up in a variety of ways (we're especially partial to the red leather upholstery), the dashboard is still rather conservatively styled for a fun-in-the-sun car. Materials quality is very good, though, and there's a distinct premium vibe in this cabin, from the classy analog gauges to the precision feel of the knobs and levers.
The Eos model's front seats provide firm long-distance comfort and surprisingly good lateral support through the corners. The 2-passenger backseat is cramped, however, and while we wouldn't ordinarily harp on this in a convertible, the Eos model's Jetta-like styling had us expecting Jetta-like rear accommodations. Trunk capacity measures 10.5 cu ft with the top up and 6.6 cu ft alfresco, which is about average for a hardtop convertible, but there's also a lockable pass-through for longer items that's integrated into the rear seats.
The Volkswagen Eos comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, four airbags (front and front-side), and a rear-passenger rollover protection system that deploys aluminum posts from behind the rear seats if an imminent rollover is detected.
Optional on all Eos models is VW's Car-Net, a telematics suite offering a number of safety-related features, such as crash notification, roadside assistance, remote vehicle access and boundary and speed alerts. A smartphone app that runs many Car-Net functions is available.
The government has not crash tested the Eos recently, but the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Eos its highest rating of Good in every tested category.
Behind the Wheel
The 2.0T 4-cylinder engine is featured in seemingly every car VW makes these days, and for good reason: It's a pleasantly refined little engine that packs a consistent punch across the rev range. We think it suits the laid-back nature of the Eos quite well. The dual-clutch automatic delivers prompt and mostly smooth shifts, the main exception being low-speed transitions like those that occur during parallel parking.
Thanks in part to that huge glass sunroof, the Eos has an airy, relaxed character at speed. Noise suppression from the insulated hardtop is very good, and the cabin remains turbulence-free at reasonable velocities with the top down. The Eos model's soft underpinnings make it a suboptimal choice for enthusiastic cornering, even with the Executive model's sport-tuned suspension. But if you simply intend to cruise around and soak up the rays, the easy-riding Eos will be a great companion.
Other Cars to Consider
FIAT 500C Abarth -- The spunky turbocharged FIAT is hardly a natural Eos rival, but when you think about it, it offers a similar turbocharged 4-seat layout for considerably less coin.
Ford Mustang convertible -- You can get the sizzling V8-powered Mustang GT soft-top convertible for the same price as an Eos, but the Mustang V6 also outperforms the VW for thousands less.
MINI Cooper S convertible -- The Cooper's back seat is definitely tighter than the Eos model's already cramped rear quarters, but if you'd like extra style and attitude, the spunky MINI is a pleasantly affordable Eos alternative.
We'd be inclined to stick with the base Komfort model. As noted, it's quite well-equipped, and we find the Eos considerably more appealing at around $35,000 than at $40,000-plus.