Volkswagen Eos 1.4 TSI SE driven

£23,970 Driven June 2011
Rated 10 out of 20

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These are confusing times at Volkswagen. The Golf-based coupe-cabriolet Eos has been facelifted to bring it into line with the rest of the family look, just as VW announces that it's going to start building a Golf Cabriolet. Surely some mistake?
The Eos hasn't even been priced wildly differently to distinguish it from the Golf - it's only £200 more expensive. So the choice between the two ultimately boils down to a simple matter of the roof - the Eos's is metal, while the Golf's is fabric.
OK, we haven't driven the Golf yet, but visually the Eos is hardly ground-breaking, even if the mild rejig brings more angular front and rear lights, as well as integrated LED daytime running lights and a reprofiled front bumper. It's sharpened things up and compared to other cars in the coupe-cabriolet class, the Eos doesn't have a terribly fat arse due to the neat three-piece roof. Chubbier than the Golf's though.
There have also been some spec changes as part of the facelift. There's remote roof operation (£425) so you can lower the lid using the key, and heat-reflecting leather can be specified as part of a cow upgrade (£2,200).
The advantage of the Eos's metal roof is refinement. The 1.4-litre TSI has always been a smooth lump, and it's no different in the Eos. It's the twin-charger engine, using both a supercharger and turbocharger, to generate 158bhp and 177lb ft, so the 0-62mph sprint only takes 8.8 seconds - competitive with most hard-top rivals. Fuel economy is reasonable at 41.5mpg.
There's never any lack of torque - even when you accelerate from below 1,500rpm, the Eos responds quite well. But it doesn't feel as punchy as the equivalent Golf hatch. The blame for this lies at the feet of that metal roof - the Eos is roughly 200kg heavier as a result. That's the same as loading your car up with a pair of prop forwards.
But the ride and handling fit in well with this slightly more sedate feel. The Eos cruises very well - the suspension is comfortable, and you hardly get any scuttle-shake over big potholes. The downside is that it's boring - the steering is precise, but very numb, and there's never any excitement generated from any part of the Eos. Buy it to potter, not to be wowed.
Pottering isn't good enough anymore, though. The changes don't distinguish the Eos enough from rivals, so it has only quality and brand image to fall back on. And knowing how good the normal Golf is, the Eos's biggest problem will be the upcoming convertible version. The Cabrio is based on a newer chassis and, in theory, should drive better. Consider your foot shot, VW.
We like: Ride quality, smooth engine
We don't like: Fatter arse than new Golf Cab
The verdict: Still comfy and quiet. But there are more exciting ways to get wind in your hair
Performance: 0-62mph in 8.8secs, max 135mph, 41.5mpg
Tech: 1390cc, 4cyl, FWD, 158bhp, 177lb ft, 1526kg, 157g/km CO2
Tick this on the options list: Wind deflector, £255
And avoid this: Park Assist, £330
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