Home » The Volkswagen Eos Was A Coupe And A Convertible Available With A Legendary Six Cylinder Engine Yet You Still Forgot About It

The Volkswagen Eos Was A Coupe And A Convertible Available With A Legendary Six Cylinder Engine Yet You Still Forgot About It

Eos Vr6 Grail 2
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Two of Volkswagen’s more popular modern cars are the Golf R and its predecessor, the R32. Buying these cars gets you the most powerful Golf-badge-wearing Volkswagens in America, but what if the hatchback form factor doesn’t do it for you? For just a couple of years, you could get the legendary Golf R32’s VR6 engine in the Volkswagen Eos 3.2, a 250 HP coupe with a hopelessly complicated, sunroof-equipped hardtop that retracted and stowed itself for open-air motoring. Many people have forgotten about these cars, but they’re still out there.

This car was a product of a patently wild time at Volkswagen. At the time, the marque was under control of wannabe James Bond villain and madman extraordinaire executive Ferdinand Piëch. He was credited for reviving Volkswagen into the engineering powerhouse it is today and Piëch’s name is attached to some of the coolest cars to be constructed in modern history.

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If you’ve missed our previous coverage on Piëch’s antics, you should know that he’s responsible for such great cars as the uber-luxurious Volkswagen Phaeton, and his work on the W-engine not only birthed the oddball Passat W8 but also helped the Bugatti Veyron become a reality. If you grew up in the 2000s, there’s a chance that Piëch had some sort of influence in at least one of the supercars on your bedroom wall.

Volkswagen Eos 2006 Pictures 1

It was also Piëch’s Volkswagen Group that created the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg, the Volkswagen Lupo 3L, the Audi A2, the Audi TT, the Volkswagen XL1, and so many more vehicles. The company also wasn’t afraid to put interesting engines in unexpected places. The Touareg was available with a V10 TDI engine as well as a W12. The A8 also got a W12 and the S6 got a gasoline V10. That’s not even talking about the concept cars, where even the Golf got a W12 that totally should have gone into production.

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VAG put out so many bangers in the 2000s and some of them seem to have gotten overshadowed by the cars above. One of those cars was the Volkswagen Eos, a car that was somehow the successor to the Cabrio while also being VW’s first coupe since the 1995 death of the Corrado. Thanks to its complicated five-piece motorized hard roof, the car was a coupe with a sliding sunroof and a convertible at the same time. And you got to pair your drop-top ride with the powertrain from a Golf GTI, or for just a couple of years, the quirky VR6 from the era’s R32.

A Long History Of Drop-Top Fun

Volkswagen Beetle 1965 Photos 1

Volkswagen has enjoyed a long history of selling cars to catch some wind and rays in. America didn’t even get the most quirky drop-top Volkswagen, the T-Roc convertible crossover. Oh yeah, Volkswagen more or less had its own Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet.

Volkswagen says the history of Golf-based convertibles started with the Beetle Convertible. The open-top version of Volkswagen’s iconic car sold 332,000 copies, convincing the automaker to keep making more convertibles. The automaker says the development of the next-generation Volkswagen convertible began in the mid-1970s after the launch of the Golf, sold in America as the Rabbit. Volkswagen wanted this new convertible to be compact and affordable but with safety as a focus.

Product: Golf Cabrio (1988)

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The new Golf I Cabriolet was shown off at the 1979 Geneva International Motor Show. Volkswagen and Karmann began production of the Golf Cabriolet later that year and in 1980, production of the Beetle Cabriolet came to an end. Fans of the Beetle Cabriolet gathered in Wolfsburg to mourn the loss of their beloved cars, but VW used this as the perfect opportunity to show fans how far the Golf Cabriolet moved the needle:

Anton Konrad, who at that time was PR Director at Volkswagen, recalls: “The Beetle community even came together for a funeral procession in Wolfsburg.” When Konrad learned of this, instead of sending out security he sent out a refreshment booth with sausages, and he invited the spokesperson of the Beetle friends for a test drive in the Golf Cabrio. Bottom line: “He was amazed at how much more technically advanced it was than his beloved Beetle.” In fact, the new Golf Cabriolet had a sophisticated and yet uncomplicated roof design with a five-layer fabric-lined top, four full-size seats, a fuel-efficient and yet agile drive system and fabulous running gear. The rest is history: the first generation not only overtook the Beetle Cabriolet in sales with 388,522 units built; it also went on to become the most successful cabriolet of its time.

Volkswagen says that the Golf I Cabriolet was the first vehicle in its class to have a permanent roll bar. Volkswagen also boasted the fact that you could get four people in the vehicle comfortably. In 1983, the Golf moved to its second generation. However, Volkswagen decided to keep the Golf Cabriolet on the first-generation platform, freshening the vehicle up for more years of sales.

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In addition to a physical facelift, the Golf I Cabriolet second series gained the option for an electro-hydraulically actuated soft top and later, the vehicle would get an optional driver airbag. Volkswagen says the Golf Cabriolet was a popular vehicle until it was discontinued in 2002:

Around the world, Volkswagen would offer the Cabriolet under several names and special editions, including Wolfsburg models in the United States. By the time production of the first-generation Cabriolet ended in 1993, Volkswagen had sold 388,552 of them worldwide.

In America, Volkswagen launched the second generation as the Cabrio in 1995, featuring several upgrades from the third-generation Golf, along with an optional power roof with glass rear window. This version would eventually be the best-selling Cabriolet worldwide, with more than 600,000 produced, before production ended in 2002.

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It should be noted that the first generations of the Golf Cabriolet were a little odd in that they did not follow the generations of the Golfs they were based on. As noted above, the second series Golf Cabriolet was based on the first-generation Golf. Meanwhile, the Golf III Cabriolet and Golf IV Cabriolet were based on the third-generation Golf platform. The Golf IV Cabriolet was similar to the second series in that Volkswagen gave a facelift to an older platform to freshen it up for the modern day.

Either way, when Golf Cabriolet production ended in 2002, Volkswagen briefly didn’t have any convertible to sell. That hole was filled by the New Beetle convertible in 2003, and then the Eos came around as a more proper successor.

Two Cars In One

Concept C

It wasn’t long after the Golf Cabriolet’s death before Volkswagen was looking for its next big convertible move. A hint at what was coming was showcased at the 2004 Geneva Auto Show. The Volkswagen Concept C was a “series-model-mature” vehicle, which meant that the concept previewed a future vehicle. As for the name, that “C” was supposed to stand for “cabriolet and coupé.” Yes, I know there’s just a single C there, but that’s what Volkswagen said it meant.

The design of the Eos is credited to Robert Lešnik, who worked in the design team led by Peter Schreyer. Reportedly, Volkswagen CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder believed that VAG’s six brands needed to be distinct and that design would do just that. The project that led to the Concept C started with designers working with an A-segment coupe and hard-top roadster based on the Golf MkV. However, it was discovered that this car would be too small to be good as a four-seat car.

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Concept C

As a response, VW’s designers and engineers decided to make a larger car. This one would share components from the fifth-generation Golf and the Passat B6, but would be a unique vehicle with its own bodywork. Volkswagen was revamping its corporate “face” at this time, and the Concept C would proudly show off what the marque’s designers were putting together.

The Concept C had an imposing presence. It was 1.3 inches wider than an Audi A4 Cabriolet and 2.8 inches wider than a Mercedes-Benz CLK Convertible. The Concept C was low, wide, and had gentle, sweeping curves.

Concept C

Of course, the highlight of the concept car was its five-piece hard roof developed with Webasto, what Volkswagen called the CSC (coupe-sunroof-convertible). When the roof was closed, you got a two-door coupe with a steel and glass roof. If you wanted to let some air in, the CSC has a sunroof that opens and closes just like any normal car with a roof. But, if you wanted a convertible experience, the entire motorized roof system would take 25 seconds to break apart, transform, and store itself behind the rear seats. Here’s Volkswagen’s explanation:

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CSC-Design: When closed, the CSC-roof curves in an arc between the rear and the windscreen. This creates an outstanding coupe roof, elegant and sporty. The roof’s curve is elongated, the rear is muscular and the overall impression is one of high quality. With the roof open, it is obvious that the Eos was specifically designed as a convertible-coupe and that its bodywork design was not derived from an existing model. Due to the CSC-roof it was possible to keep the windscreen frame short and the rear compact. Consequence: clear cut proportions in the style of classic convertibles. Not even one antenna disturbs its appearance. Background: the developers built each antenna into the trunk lid made of high rigidity synthetic.

CSC characteristics: The five-section CSC structure offers not only visual, but also practical advantages. Firstly, the pure convertible-feeling. Since the windscreen frame – or to be precise – the roof cross member – projects out into the interior to a far lesser degree than many similar vehicles there is nothing but the sky above the driver and front passenger. Secondly: optimal entry and exit. The reduced width of the wind screen frame makes it easier to get into the open Eos, since it is not necessary to maneuver around the frame. Thirdly: the integrated CSC-roof of the Eos captures light, air and a good mood. The complete opening and closing of the roof systems happens very quickly – from the first ‘clack’ to the last ‘click’ it only takes around 25 seconds. Once everything is covered, the system confirms the completion of the action by sounding a signal. In addition the CSC-roof offers the general advantages of an unlimited all-year-round suitability as well as lower driving noise levels when closed. The hard shell also makes life harder for vandals and thieves.

Volkswagen Eos 2006 Wallpapers 1

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GIF via HejaSverigeee

It took Volkswagen 18 months to turn the Concept C and that 470-part roof into reality. In September 2005, the Eos made its debut, bearing the name of the goddess of dawn. The car is supposed to evoke images of chasing a sunrise in a convertible.

The production Eos was largely faithful to the concept and Volkswagen marketed the vehicle as a car of no compromise. The automaker wanted you to know that it was both a coupe and a convertible, not a car suffering from an identity crisis. Early reviews did suggest that Wolfsburg wasn’t blowing smoke. The Eos has a body structure based on the Golf MkV, but reinforced using hot-stamped high-strength steel blanks in the floor. You’ll notice the lack of a roll bar, but Volkswagen didn’t forget it. Instead, it’s a steel tube that runs down behind the doors and under the floor. It’s also noted that the rear end of the Eos has diagonal struts inside what VW called a “reinforcement shell” that tied the rear end together with the front end. The windshield frame also got its own beefing up.

Photos Volkswagen Eos 2006 7

Reinforcing the vehicle with all of this steel meant that the rear seat passengers had ten fewer inches of shoulder room compared to a Golf MkV, but this allowed the Eos to lean into that dual identity as there wasn’t an obvious “basket handle” getting in the way. As noted, the vehicle does borrow some architecture from the Golf, but the Eos also gets its front suspension from the Golf GTI and its rear multi-link suspension from the Passat. An automatic roll bar is there as well, and that came from the Beetle Convertible.

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Volkswagen Eos 2006 Wallpapers 8

The result was a car that had a wider track than a Golf and its 14.5-foot length was also about 8 inches longer than a Golf hatchback. Volkswagen positioned the Eos above the Beetle Convertible. Period reviews suggest that the Eos wasn’t nearly as wobbly as the typical convertible, so it would appear that Volkswagen achieved its mission. That’s the benefit of making a car a convertible from the start rather than just cutting the roof off of an existing car.

The fun continued under the hood, where the base Eos 2.0T got the Golf GTI’s engine, which was rated for 200 HP and 207 lb-ft of torque. Your standard transmission was also a manual with DSG as an option. When MotorWeek tested the Eos 2.0T, the car hit 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, squealing tires through multiple gears in the process:

I could end this article here. Volkswagen essentially made a cushy combination coupe and convertible with the heart of a GTI. However, from 2006 to 2008, Volkswagen sold an even better version of the Eos.

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Mo’ Power, Baby

America got just two engine options for the Eos, and the better engine was sold here for just a blip of time. That better engine is Volkswagen’s legendary narrow bank angle VR6 engine.

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Tom Bush Volkswagen

It’s no secret that I am a fan of the recently departed VR6, and I’ll remind you of why it’s so great:

The VR6 engine is a rare configuration: it’s a compact V-engine that takes some attributes from an inline. The “V” in the VR6 name refers to “V-Motor” while the “R” refers to “Reihenmotor”, or inline-engine in German. Smash it all together and you get V-inline engine. But how can an engine be a V and inline at the same time, and why does it even exist?

[In 1991,] the Corrado and the Passat B3 would have the option of a 2.8-liter VR6 making 178 HP and 172 HP, respectively. The VR6 was a triumph in packaging. It allowed Volkswagen to shoehorn V6 power into an engine bay that normally housed a four. For example, when the Corrado launched, the most powerful engine was a 1.8-liter G60 supercharged four making 158 HP. The VR6 allowed that modest gain to 176 HP and later, 188 HP. Back in the days before turbocharged four-cylinder engines were as ubiquitous as they are now, this allowed VW to put down some respectable grunt in a small package.

How Volkswagen did it was pretty genius, too. Instead of having a 60-degree or 90-degree angle between cylinder banks like you’d see in a typical V-engine, Volkswagen’s VR6 would initially space them out only 15 degrees. The cylinders would be staggered and thanks to the compact packaging, these were technically V-engines that shared a common head.

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Volkswagen didn’t invent the VR engine. Its history goes back over a century to 1922 when Lancia launched its famous V4 in the Lambda. The bank angle started at 13 degrees and displacement started at 2.1 liters, growing to 2.6 liters. These engines had power outputs from 49 horses to 69 horses. Lancia produced it for decades, and the last car to get it was the Fulvia, which launched in 1963. By then Lancia’s V4 still had a 13-degree bank angle and was mounted at a 45-degree angle. The Fulvia got V4 power until its final year in 1976. By the end, Lancia got the bank angle down to 11 degrees.

Volkswagen got a lot of mileage out of its VR engines. A variety of passenger cars got different variations of the VR6 and the engine architecture was used to create the VR5, a VR6 missing a cylinder, and the W8, or two VR4-type blocks combined to make an eight-cylinder. Multiply that engine to make a W16 and of course, Volkswagen also had a W12.

Volkswagen Eos 2006 Pictures 5

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While the big deal of a VR6 was to provide V6 power in compact spaces, the engine is known for its tuning potential and for its Star Wars Wookie-like exhaust note. Sadly, the VR6 eventually became old hat. As Volkswagen of America officials have informed me, the old VR6 became difficult to certify for modern emissions, and besides, Volkswagen’s fours now make the same power with better fuel economy. The last car in America to get the engine was the 2023 Volkswagen Atlas.

The Eos 3.2 VR6 was made when Volkswagen was still happy to play with its weird engine. In the case of the Eos 3.2, the VR6 was a 3.2-liter engine with a bank angle of 15 degrees. This engine, which was borrowed from the R32, made 250 HP and 235 lb-ft of torque. Sadly, you didn’t get everything from the R32 as the Eos VR6 remained front-wheel-drive. Though, like the R32, the Eos VR6 also didn’t have the option for a manual transmission.

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Motor Trend reviewed the Eos VR6 twice, and both gave the car positive marks. Here’s the publication’s remarks from its first round:

For the last 20 minutes I’ve had my foot buried in the new VW Eos. Its deep-lunged, 3.2-liter VR6 loves to run, and if a car could smile, I’d swear this one was grinning. I’m driving on the autoroute, the French equivalent of Germany’s autobahn. Although they sound similar, the rules are different. The French are not big on unrestricted speeds and every few miles there’s a posted limit. The sign says 130 kph but everyone goes faster; some a little, some a lot. And then there are the mathematically-challenged people, like me, who think kph is simply Euro-speak for mph. So for the last 60 miles I’ve been doing an indicated 135 mph (I figure five over is safe). And it’s not reckless or dangerous either. The roads are perfect and fellow drivers heed the golden rule: the left lane is for high speed and overtaking.

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And the magazine’s second run, which features even more triple-digit fun:

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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.

The second review is a bit odd as the writer spent quite a lot of time talking about if the Eos was masculine enough or if people thought the car was his girlfriend’s. Look, guys, don’t be afraid to drive a car with some curves.

At any rate, the Eos, and especially the VR6 model, were well-received cars. In addition to the tight body, magazines reported 60 mph acceleration times in the mid-six second range, which isn’t bad.

Sadly, the VR6 model commanded $36,970, a notable price increase over the $28,110. Was the price hike worth 50 HP? Well, Volkswagen never released sales numbers for just the VR6 model, but sales of that version ended after 2008. Enthusiasts believe the VR6-powered Eos to be quite rare. I’ve been off and on shopping for an Eos VR6 for a couple of years and have found that these vehicles can be found for sale, but they aren’t super common. Asking prices are all over the place. I’ve seen running Eos VR6 examples for sale for as little as $2,000 to as expensive as $16,500.

Volkswagen Eos 2006 Images 4 (1)

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With that said, the Eos itself was never a huge seller in America. In the model years between 2006 and 2008, Volkswagen sold 28,975 units and production ended in 2015. Volkswagen did reintroduce a Golf Cabriolet model in 2011, but that car did not make it over to America.

The Volkswagen Eos is just another example of how crazy Volkswagen used to be. This was a car that wanted to be both a coupe and a convertible while having the firepower of either a GTI or an R32. Sure, it had a hopelessly complex roof and looks that weren’t macho, but it was something different, something that Volkswagen could use a little more of today.

(Images: VW, unless otherwise noted.)

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SomeIntern
SomeIntern
13 days ago

My Grandmother had one of these, she loved it but ended up selling it for an A5 Cab because she herd the hard top was significantly more expensive to repair than a soft top like the SLK she had before and the A5 she got later.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
17 days ago

If this is the actual holy grail, I’d be like that Nazi in Indiana Jones and choose the completely wrong one. Because this sucks, just like that shitty wooden cup that Jones realized was the actual holy grail.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
18 days ago

ehhhh, yeah no. I wish I could forget about this. Expensive, heavy, not luxurious, not efficient, not attractive, destined for mechanical issues with that stupid top, and trunk so small it could only be used for a few pizzas. This car sucked, always sucked, will continue to suck.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
18 days ago

Oh man, timely article. I pulled up to one at the light and saw one in front of me. It had the logo blacked out and a sticker that said “Size Matters”. It was lined up with a Pontiac Holden GTO next to it. I told my wife “that VW is going to try and race the GTO. And of course it did. It definitely sounded like the V6 version. Good times.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
18 days ago

Wow, great article- there was a lot about this car that I didn’t know and it’s very interesting. It would be fun to get one eventually but since it’s more of a “newer” VW I still really want one of the “classic” ones- I really want another VW Rabbit GTI like I used to have 1st and then get an 80’s Cabriolet like on License To Drive. I really don’t care about the stereotypes and that it’s called a “bitch basket” it just looks like so much fun!!!

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
19 days ago

I keep thinking it would be a great bad idea to run a scruffy VR5 Eos in Lemons. You should be able to pick up one with failed top mechanism cheap—and I wouldn’t imagine you’d get many penalty laps because modern VW.

clicking away and carefully not looking at CL or marketplace…

Marty Densch
Marty Densch
19 days ago

I rode in an Eos owned by a friend and the body structure felt anything but rigid. The top was up and it creaked and rattled worse that any of the fabric top convertibles I’ve owned.

Zac H
Zac H
18 days ago
Reply to  Marty Densch

I test drove one a few years ago with 80k miles on it. Top up it rattled like crazy, and top down the cowl shake was worse than my Fox body Mustang convertible.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
18 days ago
Reply to  Marty Densch

That just reminded me of a story my friend who had Eos told me. The cowl shake was annoyingly awful, but the thing that really drove him nuts was that in heavy rain storms he had to be careful about how he entered parking lots lest the body twist be enough to allow the water to start pouring in. He did say the seats were comfy, though.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
18 days ago
Reply to  Marty Densch

Similar experience here. Had a friend that had one for a few days and was thinking about buying it. I talked her out of it. She is still thankful.

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