2008 Volkswagen Eos

2008 Volkswagen Eos – The Volkswagen EOS hit the scene with surprisingly tiny fanfare, although it combines the sporty two.0T engine and athletic driving dynamics of a Rabbit with a killer hard-top convertible. The EOS appears to have everything it takes to be a summer classic, a claim they put under the microscope by inviting the automobile in to our Autoblog Garage for a week.

Even though Volkswagen has of the fullest lineups in its history of selling cars in the U.S., these are not the best of times in North The united states for the French automaker. Since 2005, VW has lost somewhere around $2 billion in the U.S. and the company has decided to lay off 30% of its workforce by moving its U.S. headquarters from Detroit to Virginia. Horrendous Euro to Dollar exchange rates are definitely part of the issue, but VW is having much more trouble offering Americans vehicles that fit our tastes.

An all-new model last year, the Volkswagen Eos enters 2008 with revisions to its trim levels. The most significant of these changes is the introduction of the four-cylinder model’s “Lux” trim, which comes with the luxury features of the V6-powered Eos.

Introduction

Like a little brother wanting so much to emulate his bigger bro, Volkswagen wants its image to be more like that of its upscale sibling — Audi. It’s certainly not a bad aspiration, but when the company goes hog wild, as it did with the super nice but super expensive Phaeton luxury sedan, VW loses touch with the populace. The 2008 Volkswagen Eos, however, strikes a happy medium between being just the “people’s car” and a true luxury vehicle with a luxury price tag.

Introduced just last year, the Eos is a compact hardtop convertible based on a shortened version of the Passat’s platform. It starts at around 30 grand and boasts greater refinement and luxury than similarly priced rivals while being priced thousands less than other Euro-bred drop tops. In addition to the added comfort and security that come with any folding metal top, the Eos’ retracting roof features a built-in power sunroof. If it’s too chilly to drop the roof, you can slide open the sunroof just as you would with a sunroof-equipped coupe.

Although Volkswagen offers both a 200-horsepower turbocharged inline four-cylinder and a 250-hp V6 in the Eos, one needn’t upgrade to the six to get brisk performance. That said, this VW isn’t geared toward hard-core enthusiasts despite its sporty looks. Volkswagen’s hardtop convertible is certainly composed and enjoyable on back roads, but ultimately, the Eos is more grand tourer than sports machine.

This year, the Eos’ trim levels are revised. The former base trim is replaced by the Turbo; last year’s 2.0T is replaced by the Komfort; the former 3.2L is renamed VR6; and a new Lux trim debuts. The Lux offers the luxury features of the Eos VR6 on the four-cylinder model, resulting in a substantial savings for buyers who care more about amenities than cylinder count.

Equipped with that turbocharged-4, the 2008 Volkswagen Eos is a keen choice in the convertible market, a market that also includes models like the Chrysler Sebring, Ford Mustang GT, Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GT, Pontiac G6 and Toyota Camry Solara. The Mustang and Eclipse will beat the Eos in a straight line but fall short in refinement and rear-seat space. The Pontiac also features a retractable hardtop, but its execution is nowhere near as polished as the VW’s. The roomy Toyota is a solid choice if you don’t mind a cloth top, though its complete lack of athleticism will turn off those who enjoy driving.

In VR6 trim, however, the VW Eos is harder to justify, as its higher price tag shrinks the value proposition. Go with the top-dog VR6, check off a few options and you’re looking at a sticker similar to other tempting Europeans such as the Volvo C70 or the Saab 9-3. Even a lightly optioned BMW 328i convertible would be in reach. In short, if you’re planning on spending somewhere in the low $30K range, then the 2008 Volkswagen Eos is an excellent choice, offering Audi-like quality and performance for substantially less money than its big brother. A loaded Eos VR6 in the low $40Ks, however, is not as much of a slam dunk.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

A four-seat hardtop convertible, the 2008 Volkswagen Eos comes in four trim levels: Turbo, Komfort, Lux and VR6. The Turbo comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, a wind blocker, heated mirrors, leatherette upholstery, a telescoping steering wheel, air-conditioning, a CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack, full power accessories and leather wrapping for the steering wheel and shift knob. The Komfort adds a power driver seat, front seat heaters, dual-zone automatic climate control, a trip computer and additional cabin lighting.

The new Lux trim level has those features plus 17-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather seating, a power passenger seat and an upgraded audio system with a CD changer and satellite radio. The Eos VR6 is similar but also has a V6 engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, power-folding side mirrors, aluminum cabin accents and sport seats.

Options available, depending on trim level, include a navigation system, a 10-speaker Dynaudio sound system, a dedicated iPod integration kit and adaptive bi-xenon headlights.

Powertrains and Performance

Every Eos except the VR6 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged, inline-4 that makes 200 hp and 207 pound-feet of torque. The VR6 is equipped with a 3.2-liter V6 rated at 250 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque. All models are front-wheel drive.

A conventional six-speed manual transmission is standard on the Turbo and Komfort trim levels. Optional on these trims and standard on the Lux and VR6 is VW’s Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) six-speed automated-clutch manual transmission, which functions like a conventional automatic when left in its “D” setting. However, it also does a convincing impression of a traditional manual, executing rapid shifts when the driver tugs on its steering-wheel-mounted paddles.

In our test of an Eos with the turbo 2.0 and six-speed manual, the VW did the 0-60 drill in 7.8 seconds. For the VR6 running the same race, the factory estimates a 6.9-second effort. Fuel economy ratings for the 2008 Eos range from 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway for the VR6 up to 21/30 mpg for the Turbo 2.0 automatic.

Safety

Antilock disc brakes, stability control and side airbags designed to protect both the head and torso of front occupants are standard on all Eos models. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the VW Eos earned a rating of “Good” (the highest of four) for both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

A chief attraction of the 2008 Volkswagen Eos is its innovative retractable hardtop, which incorporates a large power sunroof. The multifunction glass top fills the cockpit with light on cold days and gives you the option to slide the panel open to catch some fresh air in warmer weather. Of course, you can enjoy the full roadster experience by lowering the top completely in 25 seconds. Dropping the top requires at least 16 inches of clearance behind the car. Rear sensors warn you if you don’t have enough room.

 

Once al fresco, the Eos does a good job of protecting its occupants from wind gusts. Cockpit materials are top-grade and fit and finish is superb. Ergonomics are solid, too, but there isn’t much in the way of in-cabin storage. Cargo space is compromised by the retractable hardtop, but Volkswagen provides a divider to demarcate the 5.4 cubic feet of available space once the top is down. With the top up, there are 9.3 cubes available.

Driving Impressions

Volkswagen engineered the Eos to be a relaxed touring convertible rather than a sports car, a personality that comes through as soon as you get behind the wheel. Its steering is fairly quick and its handling is capable, but the Eos doesn’t inspire its driver on twisty back roads. Ride quality is comfortable and composed for the most part, though you might hear the stowed retractable roof rattle when you hit a sharp bump. With its broad torque band, the turbo-4 provides ample motivation for the hefty 2008 Volkswagen Eos. While the 3.2-liter V6 delivers brisker acceleration, those who want this additional performance will find that it doesn’t come cheap.

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