Full 2009 Volkswagen Eos Review
What's New for 2009
The number of trim levels on the Volkswagen Eos has been whittled down for 2009. Last year's 3.2-liter VR6 engine is no longer available, and all trim levels now come standard with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Other changes this year include optional parking assist (it used to be standard) and a redesigned optional navigation system. The new touchscreen nav system is ready for nearly any type of media with an integrated hard drive, a USB port and an SD card slot.
Like other Volkswagens that came before it (think Jetta, Passat, the ill-fated Phaeton), the Eos draws its name from Greek mythology. Eos was the goddess of the sunrise, which is an appropriate name for a car that offers its passengers the opportunity to soak up plenty of sun. This four-person convertible features a five-panel retractable hardtop design. Like those found on more expensive luxury convertibles, a retractable hardtop offers passengers the best of both worlds, with the open-air experience of a traditional ragtop when lowered, and the comfort and rigidity of a fixed roof when raised.
Introduced two years ago, the VW Eos sees just a few changes for 2009. While nothing's visibly different on the outside, the big news is that VW's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine now comes standard on both trim levels, as the pricey V6 model that offered little performance advantage has been dropped from the Eos lineup. Still, that doesn't make the Eos cheap. With a base price of nearly $31,000 for the entry-level model and $35,200 for the upgraded trim, you'd have to really love that retractable hardtop to get your money's worth.
As such, many buyers might be drawn to less expensive models such as the Chrysler Sebring, Ford Mustang GT, Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GT and Pontiac G6. The Mustang and Eclipse will beat the Eos in a straight line, while the Pontiac also features a retractable hardtop. However, the Eos is the most fuel-efficient of the bunch and is several steps above in regards to overall refinement and interior craftsmanship in particular.
Given its size, quality and price, the Eos' closest rival is BMW's new 128i convertible. Both are smart alternatives to larger, more expensive models like the Saab 9-3 and Volvo C70, whose base trims offer fewer features and less performance. Of the two diminutive German drop tops, the Bimmer is clearly the better driver's car, with a powerful six-cylinder engine and excellent driving manners. There's also no denying the draw of its badge. We'd therefore give the 1 Series a very close look, although it lacks the VW's retractable-hardtop design.
In the end, you'll have to decide how much you want to pay for top-down motoring and how important it is for top-up motoring to include a roof made of metal and glass. If your budget is fixed somewhere in the low $30K range, the 2009 Volkswagen Eos is an excellent choice. However, when fully optioned, the Eos makes less sense as its price nears that of BMW's superb 3 Series convertible, a vehicle that combines a hardtop, driving fun and prestige.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Volkswagen Eos is a front-wheel-drive, two-door convertible with seating for four. It comes in two trim levels: Komfort and Lux. The Komfort model comes standard with 16-inch wheels, a tilting/telescoping steering column, 12-way power driver seat, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, rear center pass-through slot and an eight-speaker stereo system with six-CD changer, auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio. The Lux model bumps the wheel size up to 17 inches (optional on the Komfort) and adds power-folding heated side rearview mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, burled walnut wood interior trim, leather upholstery and a 12-way power front passenger seat. An optional Dynaudio premium sound system on the Lux trim level includes 10 speakers and puts out 600 watts of power.
Available on both trim levels is the Technology Package, which adds adaptive bi-xenon headlights and park distance control. The Navigation Infotainment Package available on the Lux includes a touchscreen navigation system with an SD memory card slot, auxiliary audio jack, USB port and a built-in 30GB hard drive.
Powertrains and Performance
All 2009 Volkswagen Eos models are powered by the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine, which makes 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. The Komfort trim level is available with either a six-speed manual transmission or VW's six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) automated-clutch manual transmission. (The Lux models are available with DSG only.) DSG 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 the Eos with the turbo 2.0 and six-speed manual, the VW did the 0-60 drill in 7.8 seconds. The fuel economy rating for the 2009 Eos with DSG is 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. Opting for the manual nets 1 additional mpg on the highway.
Standard on all Eos models are antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control and front side airbags that provide head and abdomen protection. 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
The innovative retractable hardtop is still the chief attraction on the 2009 Volkswagen Eos. The multifunction glass top drops in a respectable 25 seconds, but it requires 16 inches of clearance behind the car to operate. Fortunately, rear sensors warn you if you don't have enough room.
Interior materials are of high quality, and the Eos' fit and finish is tough to beat in its class. The downside is, there isn't much storage space. The retractable top leaves little room in the trunk once stowed -- a roadster-like 5.4 cubic feet. With the top up, cargo space increases to 9.3 cubes. And while front passengers will most likely find the Eos spacious enough, adults in the backseat might feel cramped.
The 2009 Volkswagen Eos seems to be geared more toward those looking for a relaxed touring convertible rather than a sports car. Steering and handling aren't bad on average city streets, but the Eos can't quite cut it on the twisty back roads. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine has enough power to carry the somewhat hefty convertible, although it lacks some of the get-up-and-go of the now-defunct V6 model. Ride quality is comfortable, although the roof will sometimes rattle when stowed.