Two Volkswagen convertibles illustrate perfectly the old and the new technologies in droptops.
The Beetle convertible comes with a soft top that folds back like that of a baby buggy. It's the distinctive look of Beetle convertibles -- also called Cabriolets/Cabrios before. Whether it's that or the dashboard vase, nearly 70 percent of owners are women.
The Eos is named for the mythical Greek goddess of dawn and comes with cutting-edge technology. The metal roof not only is retractable but boasts an integrated sunroof. VW calls the design "muscular" and aims it at 40-something college grads who are rewarding themselves.
So ... His and Hers convertibles.
His is faster. The Eos streaks to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds thanks to a 3.2L V-6 of 250 horsepower. The Eos also comes with a 2L turbocharged four that takes around a second longer to 60 mph.
The Beetle gets there in a still respectable but pokey 10.4 seconds via a 2.5L inline five-cylinder engine of 150 horsepower.
The Eos' V-6 gets 22 mpg in the city or 29 on the highway. The Beetle ragtop with its five-cylinder power plant comes in almost the same 22/30. The difference is the Eos is bigger.
|Volkswagen Eos & Beetle
•Engines: Eos 2L turbo/3.2L V-6; Beetle 2.5L I-5
•Dimensions: Eos 105.5" wheelbase/173.6" length; Beetle 98.8"/161.1"
•Base price: Eos 3.2L $36,850; Beetle $25,990
•Fuel economy: Eos 22/29; Beetle 22/30
There's a big difference in price, too. The Beetle soft top starts at $22,120 and our tester, a "triple white" color scheme, was $25,990 and came to $26,630. Eos with the four-banger starts at $27,990 and with the six starts at $36,850. Our V-6 tester rang up extras to push the tab to $40,930.
Like many traditional convertibles, the Beetle is at its best dawdling along the beach road at sunset. Seeing the sights is the idea.
When the snug hardtop is down on Eos, there's a rollover protection system that elevates mini-rollbars in accidents. The Beetle also has automatic rollover supports. Both have anti-lock brakes and vehicle stability control systems.
The Beetle's windshield is thrust away from the driver but its severe rake produces a wide expanse of upper dashboard. It's not unlike being in a convertible minivan. With the top down, the view to the rear is restricted.
The Beetle ride is a little trucky but the nicely insulated top mutes road noise. Steering is quick but curves are taken without almost no road feel.
The Eos goes around curves with glue-like adhesion with little body roll. Steering is quick and accurate with agile handling. The 12-way heated seats helps soak up the bumps and makes for fine cross-country driving. Motorists won't be carrying much cargo, though.
Eos is slick. Beetle is cute.