Top up or down, this VW convertible inherits the Karmann Ghia’s evocative styling
VW Eos 2.0T
Decades ago Volkswagen wanted to make a sexy model without milking the cow dry. They took the Beetle’s basic components, commissioned the Italian design firm Ghia to pen a gorgeous four-seat coupe-convertible and contracted with the German coachbuilder Karmann to assemble it.
The result was the Karmann Ghia, which put the best of design and engineering into the hands of the middle class.
Volkswagen did it again — with the Eos.
This time, the inspiration was to build a more affordable version of the sexy A4 cabrio, produced by VW’s upscale sibling, Audi. Eos is produced on a fortified version of the latest Rabbit/Jetta architecture, which has won acclaim for its outstanding road manners.
The front-drive platform includes an independent suspension system, Electronic Stability Control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and speed-sensitive electro-mechanical power steering (no hydraulic pump for increased efficiency). The steering can feel numb at low speeds, but feels great as the car hits its stride on the freeway.
Especially with the top down, it is easy to confuse the Eos with an A4. It looks very expensive with its clean-cut lines, 18" alloy wheels with low profile tires, hard tonneau cover, high rear deck, and clear lenses. Large badges front and rear pronounce proudly that it is a Volkswagen. I especially like the chrome grille, which connects the Eos to more expensive VWs like the Passat and discontinued Phaeton. It is a small car, but gives the impression of something much bigger and more dear.
Unlike the soft top A4, the Eos seals up with a folding hard top for the serenity of a closed coupe. I love folding hardtops â€“ whether they are on a Mercedes SLK, Lexus SC, or Pontiac G6. It’s truly the best of both worlds when you can drive comfortably without wind rumpling canvas, but can also enjoy sunshine and warm summer nights.
Like many German cars, the Eos is impressive not for chrome and crazy style, but for its thoughtful design, pure forms and restraint.
Like all great German cars, the Eos lives to devour interstate. You can get a 3.2-litre V6 engine, and you would love its power and smoothness, but I have no complaints about the efficient 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged, direct-injected powerplant that produces 200 horsepower and 207 lbs.-ft. of torque. Mated to the standard six-speed manual transmission, it would run all day at speeds one shouldn’t encourage. The four-cylinder engine rewards drivers with 23/32-mpg city/highway.
Buying an Eos is not cheap considering a base price of $30,110 and as tested for $37,990. That’s quite a premium for a refined Rabbit. But the car feels worth every penny — especially considering its posh interior and ingenious top system.
If you want something less expensive from the German brand, you can’t go wrong with a Beetle Convertible — very much like four decades ago.
Competitors include the Pontiac G6 Convertible, Volvo C70 and Chrysler Sebring Convertible.
WHAT YOU GET —
Fuel economy: 23/32-MPG city/hwy.
As tested price: $37,990.
Inside: woodgrain dash, doors and center console, heated leather seats, analog gauges with indigo lighting, Dynaudio premium sound system, 6-disc changer, park distance control, rain sensing wipers, satellite radio, 12 way power seats, dual zone automatic climate control, one-touch four-down window switch, large cupholders front and rear.
Safety: side curtain airbags and integrated roll bars in the rear headrests.
Who: Jack E. Jett, from "QueerEdge with Jack Jett and Sandra Bernhard."
Occupations: Aging TV gasbag, bridge burner, ’80s model, male impersonator.
Why are you famous in the gay community? I was America’s first out gay TV talk-show host.
Current car: 2003 Mercedes E320, black.
Purchased from which dealer? Park Place — where else?
Were you a tough negotiator? Yes, because I didn’t give a shit. I knew this city was full of Mercedes Benz as well as people wanting to sell them. So I could take it or leave it. The dealer’s rent was due.
How much did you settle on? $37,000.
Insurance agent: Hub International (William Morris for talent, Ford Models for runway).
Monthly insurance rate? $135.
Why this car? Because it’s black and sturdy — like my men. And because I like to waste money. In addition, I was in the middle of a mid-life crisis.
Favorite feature: The cock ring and nipple clamps that connect directly to the battery
Keep anything interesting in your glove box? Poppers, nude photos of Laura Bush and William Shatner. A Wolf Blitzer lunch box. Two of my children.
Previous vehicles: Mercedes 450 SL, 1969 Ford Mustang, 1972 Ford Gremlin (Levi Special Edition with Levi interior).
Average weekly fuel expenses: Depending on how much I can siphon from my elderly neighbors … usually about $55 a week, thank you very much George W. Bush.
Do you merge well with other drivers? My church believes that merging is a sin, so I let others merge, and I just judge them for it. I love the merger but hate the merging.
How often do you wash your car? I find that to be a rather personal question. However, I usually have my car washed on the same day I have my colonics. One is by hand, the other by drive thru.
Worst speeding story: I mixed some cocaine with Viagra and a hand full of diet pills and topped it off with a three-pack of Red Bull. Did I mention the crack?
Worst flat tire: After partaking in said speed, I decided to drive to Memphis to visit Graceland. On the way, we had a flat. Three men in our car and not one knew how to change a tire or even where the spare was — and we are in Arkansas. So we stood on the side of the road waiting to be shot or for someone to fix the flat. A burley lesbian saved the day. This is why I worship the ground that lesbians walk on — sometimes.
Worst intersection in Dallas: The parking lot of any El Fenix on Wednesday’s "taco special" night. People lose all self-control over the prospect of cheese enchiladas for under $4.99.
Most ridiculous car repair: I have my car serviced at Park Place, so every repair is ridiculous. I had to have my house re-financed just to replace a rearview mirror.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 6, 2008.
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