It was, for me, an unnerving moment. At the recent Geneva Motor Show, as they proudly unveiled their new Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet, the VW bosses declared “the return of the four-seater convertible”, at least from VW.
And yet, back home I had left behind another VW four-seat convertible; still in production and indeed recently “refreshed” with a new front end, tail lights and other cosmetic improvements. Had they, I wonder, forgotten the Eos? Was their coupé-convertible about to die of neglect, as the new baby convertible arrived?
Despite the obvious snub to their own product, VW says that the Eos and Golf Cabrio will “sit alongside” each other. For how long, I wonder. There is an obvious physical similarity when they have their roofs down – the Eos looks like a slightly scaled-up Golf Cabrio – and they will both seat four, though in neither case with much comfort for the rear occupants.
The main difference is that the Golf Cabrio will have a good, old-fashioned fabric roof, like those old soft-top Golf “Clippers” and the like you might remember in Essex stiletto white from the 1980s. The Eos, meanwhile, perseveres with a folding metal roof, a device that became fashionable in the 1990s. The Eos is, essentially, a five-year-old design now, but its complex five-piece roof, incorporating a sunroof, remains a superb piece of engineering. Watching it fold down is like viewing a scene from Transformers. At the first available opportunity – a crisp but sunny afternoon in Bath – I went topless.
Suddenly I could appreciate Bath in all its Georgian glory and the Bathonians could observe me in my own Baroque grandeur. Yet that roof worries me. I fret about that complex mechanism proving unreliable one day – and the cost of fixing it. I worry, too, about what the weight of the metal roof inevitably does to the fuel consumption of this heavy car, even in its diesel and “Bluemotion” versions. I worry, in fact, that I, and you, might be better off waiting for a Golf Cabrio, which will be cheaper too. Volkswagen will take orders for it in July. The Eos may well soon find itself being eclipsed.
VW EOS SE 1.4-LITRE TSI
Engine capacity: 1.4 (4 cylinders, 16 valves)
Power output (PS @ rpm): 160 @ 5800
Max torque (Nm @ rpm):1500-4500
Top speed (mph): 135
0-62 mph (seconds): 8.8
Fuel economy (mpg): 41.5
CO2 emissions (g/km):157
The Renault Megane CC is stylish enough, roof down, but feels less well engineered. The Volvo C70 is also excellent but pricier. The Saab 9-3 is ancient and hard to shift, so make sure you drive a hard bargain. Or wait for the VW Golf Cabrio...