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Volkswagen Eos 3.2 - First Drive

Forget Engine Swaps, The Cabrio's Back And Available With A 3.2 Liter VR6, the Volkswagen Eos 3.2.

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Even though VW has been manufacturing drop-tops since '49, most have offered below par driving enjoyment and have apparently been aimed at younger, female owners. Fortunately, there are a select group of tuners and enthusiasts who've broken the stereotype and built an assortment of finely-tuned 1.8T-equipped Rabbit Convertibles and VR6-driven Mk3 Cabrios. Yet despite the cult of cabby-lovers, the car's been difficult to sell because of its lack of value and performance.

However, the new Eos may eradicate that mindset. For the first time, VW enters the retractable hardtop convertible market with six different trim levels.

In et 11/06 we introduced the VW Eos during our visit to the production factory in Palmeia, Portugal. While in Europe, we had the opportunity to test the 2.0T. Since then, the Eos 2.0T and 3.2 have reached US soil. And to continue VW's marketing campaign, we were invited to Scottsdale, AZ to drive the more powerful 3.2 liter on the desert highways.

Driving ImpressionsBefore seeing the Eos, I had my reservations. Will people think it's my girlfriend's car? Will it drive slow and handle poorly? Does it make me look fat?

All these questions were circulating through my head as I walked towards a parking lot full of Eos. There was a selection of three colors: Black Uni, Silver Essence and Eismeer blue.

Black was my first choice - stealthy and more masculine than the rest. Unluckily, it was already taken, so I hopped into the silver Eos, which looked simple and welcoming. The blue was almost turquoise and resembled a Tiffany's bag; a little too feminine, in all honesty.

Stepping inside the car, the interior reminded me of the current Mk5 lineup, except for the addition of the retractable hardtop and its controls. Using the DSG transmission, I shifted the car into drive and maneuvered my way out of the city. The Eos 3.2 is only available with a six-speed DSG transmission, which disappointed me because I'm not the greatest fan of automatics. Even though DSG's dual-clutch technology can shift faster than any driver, it does remove some of the fun of driving. To compensate for the loss of gearbox options, the transmission features a Sport Mode and paddle shifters.

Upon reaching the desert, I stopped to lower the hardtop and prepare for the sunny Arizona roads. The roof takes approximately 25sec to lower with the touch of one button.

I turned off the traction control as I departed and put the car into Sport mode. The 250hp motor didn't offer unbelievable power, but it was strong and responsive. It can almost be compared to an R32, but the heavy Eos chassis and front-wheel drive deter its performance. The exhaust note is a bit too quiet for my tastes, but still resonates like a refined VR6 motor should. With a sports exhaust, the Eos 3.2 would sound delightful, especially with the top down.

After cruising at the speed limit for ten miles, I encountered a combination of twisties in the highway. The turns weren't extremely demanding, so I was able to keep the speed around 100mph and was impressed by the handling characteristics of the car. Body roll was less than I expected, especially for a 3600 lb convertible.

Following a few more wide turns, the road transformed into a straight downhill section. Another Eos pulled next to me and we decided to make a run for it. The wind noise increased as we accelerated to 140mph, but even at such high speed the car felt controllable and solid. There may have been more speed to come but we caught up with traffic on the road.

After my top speed run, I relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and was able to review my feelings for the Eos. For a retractable hardtop the car's excellent value, with a base price of $27990 for the 2.0T. The 3.2 drives and sounds wonderful, but costs nearly $9000 more. So it seems to make more financial sense to choose the 2.0T. Whatever you choose, lowered suspension, bigger wheels, a body kit and minor engine upgrades would produce a fantastic sunny-day driver.

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