2007 Volkswagen Eos 3.2 : Preview
By Carey Russ
The Auto Channel
When Volkswagen recently introduced its new Eos hardtop convertible, it was available only with the company's 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder engine. No complaints there, as the 2.0T, found also in VW's GTI, Jetta GLI, and Passat, is torquey, efficient, and, with 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque over a wide rev range, as powerful as many a 3-liter V6. Any car in which it is found is in no way underpowered.
But for some people, 200 horses is not enough. There are also market positioning issues - VW, while retaining its commitment to it's "People's Car" roots, would also like to compete in the entry-luxury market. And a four-cylinder engine, even a high-tech turbo, just doesn't make it in that class. In order to compete with more upscale machinery, more cylinders are necessary.
The Eos was meant from its initial design to have both engines, and because of the design of both its chassis structure and the new-generation VR6, that's no problem at all. The compact narrow-angle engine is barely larger than the four, and makes noticeably more power, with 250 horses and 236 lb-ft from its 3.2-liter displacement. Unlike the four, which is offered with both a six-speed manual and the six-speed DSG automanual transmissions, the 3.2 comes only with the DSG. All models of the Eos are front-wheel drive. The suspension is the same fully-independent system with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link rear as is found in the 2.0T, with no tuning differences as there is only a minimal weight difference between the engines.
With a base price of $27,990 and an expected typical price in the low 30s, the 2.0T is quite a value. Although the Eos 3.2 seems appreciably more expensive, with a base price of $36,850 and expected typical price under $38,000, it also comes with a significantly higher level of standard equipment to justify that price. Essentially, the 2.0T "Luxury Package" of interior, wheel and tire, and audio upgrades is standard fare in the 3.2, along with the DSG gearbox. As with the 2.0T, the 3.2 Sport Package adds brushed-aluminum interior trim, Nappa leather seating with full power adjustability for both front seats, firmer shocks and springs, and steering-wheel shift paddles; it also upgrades the 3.2's standard 17-inch wheels and tires to 18s. A Technology Package not offered on the 2.0T includes such upscale features as ultrasonic park distance control and bi-xenon headlights with the horizontally-swivelling adaptive front lighting system for improved night vision.
So the Eos 3.2 gets genuine walnut trim in its stylish interior. And, like the 2.0T, it boasts a fully-functional trunk even with the top down. With 10.5 cubic feet top-up and 6.6 top-down, it should provide adequate space for a long weekend. The rear seat holds two people well.
Safety equipment is comprehensive. Three-point harnesses, driver and passenger front airbags, with the Passenger Occupant Detection System (PODS), front combined side thorax and head airbags, emergency locking belt retractors, and the Rollover Protection System, with spring-loaded roll bars that pop up from behind the rear seats in the event of a collision or if the car gets extremely sideways. Brakes are four-wheel discs, with standard antilock, Brake Assist, traction control, and the ESP electronic stability control program. A brake disc wiper system keeps moisture from unduly decreasing brake performance in wet weather.
The "CSC" coupe-sunroof-convertible concept is the same in the 3.2 VR6 as in the 2.0T, so both can be year-round cars. The folding metal hardtop concept dates to the 1950s, but VW is the first to integrate a smoked-glass sunroof panel the top, giving the Eos owner three top options depending on weather and mood. It only takes 25 seconds to go from coupe to convertible, and much less to enjoy the sunroof.
I had the opportunity to drive the new Eos 3.2 recently, when it was introduced to the automotive press in Scottsdale, Arizona. The drive route went from the valley floor up into the mountains to the east, and the weather was perfect for a convertible, with no threat of rain. Unsurprisingly, the 3.2 feels little different from the 2.0T, with the exception of more urge at any given throttle setting. Climbing steep mountain grades, even at altitude, presented no difficulty, and the twisting and sometimes indifferently-paved roads highlighted the Eos's fine handling and ride comfort. As in other cars so-equipped, the DSG was faultless as an automatic, shifting more quickly and positively than a regular torque-converter automatic while being more efficient. Manual shifting was also quick and positive.
Wind buffeting was never excessive, nor was wind (or road, or mechanical) noise. Conversations were never strained, and the views were magnificent. I did put the top up when I got back into town, just to do so. Hold one button for under 30 seconds, no latching necessary. The metal roof offers far better antitheft protection than canvas or vinyl.
The Eos is a fine coupe and a fine convertible. With the addition of the 3.2 VR6 to the lineup, Volkswagen goes into more direct competition with other European brands to offer convertibles. Most Eoses - as in 80 percent - are expected to be sold with the four-cylinder engine, with a 20 percent take on the six. Either way, the car is a winner, with convertible appeal, comfort, style, and practicality.