And the heavens opened

We have already moved into an era where the underpinnings of most cars are – by-and-large – irrelevant.  Certainly, some cars handle better than others and yes, some are better over bumps – but they are inherently programmed for these different characteristics.  The point I am making is that using one basic floorpan, it is possible to build a car to suit almost all customer desires.  Of course, I am thinking about VW Group’s Golf.  Other manufacturers share their bottoms and VW shares its larger and smaller footprints across various models but I believe the floorpan of the Golf is the most widely used in the industry.

This is a good thing.  Purists might look at some of the limitations but the sheer flexibility of this almost modular building technique – and the inherent cost savings – provide huge consumer choice.  And this brings me on to the VW Eos – a folding tin-top convertible closely based on the Golf.

The idea of a folding hard roof has always appealed – providing good weather protection, security and relaxed motorway cruising with the obvious open top motoring when the sun shines.  There are some penalties though.  With an extra 182kgs (13%) on top of the Golf’s weight, it doesn’t feel quite so spritely.  That’s like carrying 67 bricks everywhere you go.  Or 40 cats.  All the time.

Like most convertibles the Eos has poor rear visibility.  This is acknowledged by VW in that once reverse gear is selected ‘please ensure there are no small children playing behind the car’ (or something similar) is displayed on the dashboard.  Which is odd given the driver should have his or her head screwed round to look for small children instead of reading the display panel.

The other common convertible compromises are there too.  By moments, the view behind becomes blurred because the driving mirror is vibrating along with the windscreen – a result of the slightly less rigid shell.  There’s extra wind noise too – and the low profile tyres on this particular vehicle don’t make any sense at all, hardening the ride and further increasing road noise.

This does seem to be a long list of negative points for one single bonus feature but by-and-large VW has done well to minimise the impact of the absent roof.  As a coupé – which it quickly became once the shower started – it is very civilised.  It is light and airy too, with the integral glass sunroof.

Running gear is the stock two litre Bluemotion 140 PS diesel with stop-start feature.  It is refined; the light clutch and slick (but slightly notchy) gear change provide an easy drive.  One feature carried over from the Golf which could spoil one’s boulevard cruising is the vicious braking action – more on-off than progressive.

Aesthetically, it’s somewhere between sophisticated and bland.  It is unlikely to offend anyone but it lacks bold design features to set the world on fire.   It seems I am not alone in stating that colour choice is important too – there are many forum threads debating this same quandary.  Unfortunately, only blacks, dark blues, greys, beige and white are available with one dark red being the slightly brighter exception. Something a little cheerier wouldn’t go amiss.

Having tried a number of Golf platform variants and putting the body shape and trim designs aside, it is remarkable how different most of these cars feel.  The Eos, though, still feels like a Golf, albeit a very laden one.  (Not always a bad thing: Golfs are very good for moving paving stones.)

The Eos isn’t a ‘look at me’ convertible (although passing motorists did as I started to become damp while the roof went up).  It’s for those who want the capability of its utilitarian sibling – and a bit more fun.

What to play on the radio: “Here comes the rain again”, Eurythmics

What not to play on the radio: “Fade to grey”, Visage

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