The new Volkswagen Eos seats four in a tightly efficient body and has a convertible hardtop that stows itself securely in the trunk in about 25 seconds. Is that enough to make the car a success?
Maybe in Europe, where even secretaries drive SLKs. And maybe here, too, since the Eos does what no other entry in its class can. True, there are plenty of four-seat convertibles here, from the Audi A4 to the Volvo C70a good 10 in all. And there are hardtop convertibles, too, though only the Volvo seats four. So what does the Eos have that the C70 doesn't? The VW's five-piece convertible hardtop sports a fully opening sunroof.
Will America care? In the past it has. The Eos should appeal to the same audience that bought tens of thousands of the old VW Cabrios, a model discontinued about four years ago. This new car is far stiffer and doesn't require that big basket-handle roll hoop to both hold it together and protect passengers in the event of a rollover (there are pop-up roll hoops behind the rear seats in Eos).
The convertible gets its stiffness from an increased use of hot-stamping in the A-pillar and in other crucial frame locations. Using steel so hard it would dent a normal sheetmetal press, VW heats the material to soften it, then whomps it into shape.