As a sport coupe, the Eos is impressive. It's simply a very sharp compact car. I suppose the convertible aspect is a bonus. And if that's the case, prospective Eos buyers score big-time.

The five-piece Eos top is something of an engineering marvel, the type of thing worthy of a college thesis. Although the objective (electronically positioning a hard top into the boot) appears fairly straightforward, the reality is a complex bit of ballet, a repetitious dance that will be repeated thousands of times in the exact same tempo.

VW partnered with Webasto, a German company specializing in convertible roof solutions. The end result is a brilliant, self-folding, five-section steel roof, a system powered by a series of hydraulic pumps, electric motors and its own computer. All told, there are some 470 parts in the Eos roof; within 25 seconds each component conspires to sandwich the top in a shape roughly the size of a child's table. The whole thing tucks itself away within the forward section of the trunk, leaving some 205 cubic liters of storage space (from an original 380), a fact destined to cause much weeping from Mercedes SLK owners.

Despite my convertible disinclination, watching the Eos transform from handsome coupe to an equally handsome convertible is remarkable. And what's especially nice is how clean the Eos looks while the top is down. No gaping spaces on the doorsills, no bulky rubber boots. In fact, the Eos appears to be a purpose-built convertible, one of those cars born from a designer's "dream car" sketchbook.

North America will see three versions of the Eos. The basic 2.0T model, only available with a manual transmission and little in the way of options, starts at $27,990. The next level up is a Package 1 Eos 2.0T ($29,990) that includes leather steering wheel, shift knob and hand brake handle, automatic headlamps with coming home feature, dual-zone Climatronic, 12-way power driver seat with adjustable lumbar support, heated front seats, heated washer nozzles, windblocker, center armrest and trip computer. Volkswagen's innovative DSG six-speed automatic is optional at $1,075 (you really want this...trust me). The Eos will also include the same ride height as the German-specification model and optional Sport Package models including stiffer shocks and springs and increased anti-roll bar diameters front and rear will be identical to the European Eos models.

Package 2 cars include everything from Package 1. The Package 2 Luxury models include leather seating, leather wrapped three-spoke steering wheel, wood trim, rain sensing wipers, premium sound, Sirius satellite radio prep, auto-dimming mirror, 12-way power passenger seat with adjustable lumbar support, and 17-inch Le Mans alloy wheels with 235/45-17 all-season tires. If you opt instead for Package 2 Sport, you get leather sport seats, a leather wrapped three-spoke steering wheel, brushed aluminum trim, rain sensing wipers, premium sound system, Sirius satellite radio prep, auto-dimming mirror, 12-way power driver and passenger seats with adjustable lumbar support, sport suspension and 17-inch Avignon alloy wheels with 235/45-17 all-season tires. Stand alone options for the 2.0T Package 2 cars include 18-inch alloy wheels for $400, a fantastic Dynaudio premium sound system for $1,000, DVD-based navigation system for $1,800 and Park Distance Control for $350. Later in the fourth quarter of this year a 250-bhp 3.2-liter VR6 model will be added to the lineup. All 3.2 models will include Package 1 equipment and DSG standard, starting at $36,800. An additional Technology Package option is available on the V6 models and includes Park Distance Control and Bi-xenon headlamps with AFS (Advanced Frontlight System - steerable headlamps) for $1,400.

The Eos is a convertible for people who don't like convertibles. The Eos could live its entire life with the top up and life would be swell. However, if you appreciate a top-down experience, the Volkswagen Eos is as good as it gets.


2006 Volkswagen EOS

Layout
Transverse front engine, front-wheel drive

Engine
2.0-liter inline four, dohc, four valves per cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled

Transmission
Six-speed manual or DSG

Suspension
F: MacPherson struts with lower wishbones, anti-roll bar
R: Four-link suspension with separate springs/shocks, anti-roll bar

Brakes
Dual circuit system, ABS, ESP, mechanical parking brake

Wheels and Tires
Cast aluminum, 7x16215/55R16 W

Dimensions
Length x Width x Height (in.)173.5 x 70.5 x 56.8Wheelbase: 101.5 in.
Curb Weight: 3,393 lb

Performance
Peak Power: 200 bhp @ 6600 rpm
Peak Torque: 207 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm
0-62 mph: 7.8 sec
Top Speed: 144 mph

Why we love it:
Handsome profile, dual-purpose nature, great engine

Why we don't:
Smallish rear seat

The Price Tag: $27,990

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