Alfa Romeo
Land Rover
Volkswagen Eos
Top down, hair back
March 2007

A BIG tip when trying to impress your four-year-old daughter how cool driving a convertible is ... tie her hair back.

The idea was just too cool when I came up with it on the way out of Super Amart on the way back to the spiffy new Volkswagen Eos.

"Want to put the top down?". "Yes please Daddy that would be great for my birthday (a day early but who's counting?)."

Not only did I impress my little one during the 25 seconds while the hard top packed itself away in the boot but a couple of other little kids standing nearby as well.

Better than average chance their dads were thinking "tosser" though.

A shriek of excitement as we took off, flipped into second gear and ... silence. I turned back to look and she was head down trying to stop her long hair stockwhipping her eyes out.

"Dad," came the voice muffled through the hair and hands, "can we put the top back up now?"

Rather than spoil the moment, we took a back road and stayed under 40km/h and the hair resumed it normal non-life-threatening ways.

There are a couple of things that make Eos's folding roof stand out, apart from the fact that it's the only five-section hard-top with integrated sliding/tilting glass roof in the world.

Firstly the windscreen frame doesn't protrude into the cabin as much as usual, and therefore it's easier to get in and out of, and also offers better visibility than normal.

It also has the added benefit that if you don't intend to go topless, you can remove the storage compartment for the hardtop from the boot and get back some much-needed storage room.

With the top down the storage room is very tight (like a bag of ice and a carton of beer was a squeeze ... seriously).

The sunroof aperture itself is a massive 1.035x0.39 metres so you can get that freedom road feeling just by having it open.

The mechanism that opens and closes the roof is quite a feat of engineering with 470 parts.

The parking sensors integrated in the bumpers are called in to scan the space behind the car for obstacles before activating the roof and even the air conditioning mode changes from coupe to convertible.

NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) with the sunroof closed is very good to say the least, with it being all but as quiet inside the cabin as any normal sedan.

Due to the fact that during the opening and closing of the roof the longitudinal roof spars first move horizontally backwards and then vertically downwards, a very low height is achieved in conjunction with the equally compact ‘sandwich’ unit.

This allows the transformation to go ahead even in a low garage without any problem. In addition the lid of the boot is less bulky, which creates room for a harmonious rear design.

When the top is down the boot offers the equivalent of 205 litres space; when the roof is closed the available space is 380 litres. For the last few millimetres the lid of the boot closes via a power latching system as a standard feature.

There's a ski port through the back seat for longer items like ... erm ... skis.

So how does it drive? Surprisingly well actually.

The Eos is quite broad at 1.79 metres wide, 4.41 metres long and 1.44 metres high. The wheel base is 2.58 metres.

Add to this the fact that it has high torsional rigidity thanks to firmer sheet metal and special railing pipe in the doors and the roadholding is well above average and makes for a very sporting drive.

The steering is direct and responsive. The ride may be considered a little stiff by some so a longer test drive would be a good idea, but purists will argue this is how a convertible should be anyway.

If you are worried about the safety of the Eos in the event of a rollover, there is a roll bar system that shoots up from behind the rear bench in 0.25 seconds.

Together with the windscreen frame, the extended aluminium profiles provide effective protection in the event of the vehicle being turned over.

Also as standard, the Eos has safety optimised head rests and four front airbags, along with special lateral head-thorax airbags. During a collision they open horizontally and vertically and cover the entire lateral window band.

From a conceptual approach, this way they also perform the tasks of conventional head or window airbags, which could obviously not be stored in an open roof.

Standard features in the Eos are 17" alloy rims (Le Mans), sports seats, six-disc CD player, leather steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake lever.

Also fitted are park distance control, ABS, ESP, remote central locking, low tyre pressure indicator, cruise control and rain sensing windscreen wipers.

Options include a satellite navigation system, 12-way electrically adjustable seats, 18" rims (Samarkand) with sport suspension available.

If you are trying to stand out from the crowd a bit more, the Eos Individual package includes 18" alloy rims type VeraCruz, sport chassis, radiator grille in chrome, dual coloured sport seats in Nappa leather (black with light corn silk beige), light seams (also for the leather steering wheel), decor inlays in black piano lacquer and aluminium hook sill inlays.

There are two engines to ponder, a turbo petrol or TDI (diesel).

The 2.0 T FSI, first deployed in the Golf GTI, suits the Eos perfectly with its

1800rpm-5000rpm torque maximum of 280Nm and 147kW of power.

It is good for a 7.8 second 0-100km/h time and uses on average 8.4 litres per 100 km (manual transmission).

The TDI's 103kW (4000 rpm) reaches maximum torque of 320Nm even at 1750rpm (up to 2500rpm). While it takes a more leisurely 10.3 seconds to reach 100km/h the payoff is in the fuel consumption of 6.0 litres per 100 km average with a standard manual six speed transmission.

A Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) is optional. It combines the comfort of an automatic gearbox with a sporty and fuel saving advantages of a manual gearbox.

It has six forward gears and changes gear extremely quickly and without interrupting the drive power. The gear changes happen so quickly that even experienced drivers would not be able to keep up changing gear manually.

In Tiptronic-mode, where the gears are changed via "+ / -", there is an unprecedented sporty feel.



ENGINES: 2.0-litre turbo petrol or turbo diesel

TRANSMISSION: Five or six-speed manual, Tiptronic automatic and optional super shifter Direct Shift Gearbox

POWER: 147kW @ 000rpm; 103kW @ 4000rpm

TORQUE: 280Nm @ 1800-5000rpm; 320Nm @ 1750rpm

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 8.4l/100km average; 6.0l/100km average

ACCELERATION 0-100km/h: 7.8s; 10.3s

PROS: Dynamic drive; quiet in cabin; sophisticated hardtop retraction; good looks; choice of performance or economy but both with super torque

CONS: Very few. Perhaps just the sheer lack of boot space. Oh and you might need some rubber bands if you have a ponytail

THE BOTTOM LINE: Eos TDI manual $47,990, DSG $50,290; Eos FSI manual $49,990, DSG $52,290


Metallic / Pearl Effect Paint $690

Eos Individual Package $6,990

Vienna Leather Upholstery (Titanium Black or Corn Silk Beige) $3290

Napa Leather Upholstery (Deep Red) $3890

Samarkand 18" Alloy Wheels $2490

Chicago 18" Alloy Wheels $2490

Bi-Xenon Headlights With Dynamic Cornering Lights $1990

Anti-theft Alarm System $590

Electrically Adjustable Front Seats $1490

Satellite Navigation $2990

Dynaudio 600W Premium Audio System $1990

Satellite Navigation with Dynaudio 600W Premium Audio System $4990

Walnut Wood Interior Trim $490