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Volkswagen Eos 2.0 T FSI Sport

Driven July 2006

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Somehow VeeDub has managed to craft a cabin that includes some rear legroom in the two seats. Given that most convertibles struggle to fit children in the back, this is quite an achievement. The only downside here is that headroom is restricted - well, you can't have it all.

We drove a version with the two-litre turbo-charged FSI that also appears in the Golf GTI, which for the moment is the headline unit. A 1.6 FSI and a 3.2 V6 will appear from July and October respectively, but for the moment you'll have to make do with the featured engine, plus a 2.0 FSI and a 2.0 TDI.

As you'd expect, the former isn't slow but there's definitely less urgency than there is in the GTI. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise, as that fancy roof mechanism adds a good 200kg to the Eos over and above the three-door Golf.

Still, 0-62mph comes up in 7.8 seconds which is far from sluggish, and it's pretty responsive as well, thanks to the 206lb ft coming online from 1,800rpm. Again, the weight hampers it, but there's just enough power for the most committed of cabrio drivers, which is hardly an enormous grouping.

The turbo cuts in smoothly and is matched by the chassis. As with all recent Volkswagens, the Eos rarely gets flustered. VW is keen to stress that this car has been designed from the outset as a cabrio and not simply as a convertible Golf, so lopping the roof off should make little difference to how it drives.

Please don't call it a Golf Convertible in the presence of anyone who works for VW - all their efforts at a new spirit of German geniality will disappear quicker than you can say, erm, lederhosen.

There's not much scuttle shake here, as you'd expect from any modern cabrio, and for the vast majority of the time you'll be wafted along in reasonable comfort.

Front suspension is borrowed from the Golf, while the rear has been snaffled from the Passat and the combination of both works well. It's a bit stiffer than either of those, but overall it feels safely predictable.

The steering's precise but you don't get any feel through it, while the Eos rolls a bit through the corners but won't make you sea-sick.

About the only wild side to this car is the lack of front traction, because the leading wheels easily spin when you accelerate. Doubtless the lower-powered versions wouldn't suffer from this brief bout of tyre-smoking hilarity.

Truth is, there's still a very clinical edge to the Eos that's lacking much emotional pull. In just the same way you know that some piece of Italian exotica with this roof would risk breaking every five minutes but would somehow ooze sex appeal from its very stitching, so the reverse is true of the VW.

Buy it because it's a good car, in fact it might be the best in this class, but don't expect the emotional fireworks suggested. The fuse isn't even lit yet.

Piers Ward

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