IN most cases, it’s hard to argue against the benefits of a diesel car in the fleet sector, what with the lower emissions and higher fuel economy benefits.
Except when that diesel engine is under the bonnet of a convertible. Put simply, the rackety clatter emitted by even the most refined diesels just doesn’t suit the romance of wind-in-the-hair driving.
Obviously, with the roof up in the Volkswagen Eos engine noise is less of an issue, although there is still more intrusion than in, say, a Golf, but put the roof down and it all gets a little embarrassing.
Sitting at traffic lights the other day with the roof stowed and the Eos made its presence felt more for the diesel clatter than for its undeniably handsome looks. I was almost moved to apologise to passing pedestrians for the noise.
Choice of fuel aside, there’s a lot to praise in the Eos – elegant looks, quality interior, strong operating economy and, of course, the folding roof – the Eos’ party piece.
It transforms from coupe to convertible in 25 seconds and, in the process, puts on a fascinating metal ballet as panels and pieces glide this way and that. Once the roof is stowed away, the Eos retains the styling proportions which look so good with the roof up.
Not so good is the boot volume, though. With the roof up there is 380 litres of space in the Eos’ boot, better than the Peugeot 307’s 350 litres but well short of the Renault Megane and Vauxhall Astra on 490 and 440 litres respectively.
It’s also a tight squeeze loading the boot when the roof is down on the Eos, thanks to the way the complex roof stows away. It lacks the solution from Vauxhall of lifting the roof unit by 10 centimetres when the roof is stowed to aid loading.
At least there’s more room in the cabin, with space for four adults to sit comfortably.
The driving experience is typically Volkswagen, which is good but lacking something in driver involvement. Everything works very well, but the steering, gearchange and pedals all have numb feeling in their actions.
And the mid-range perfor-mance that makes the Golf TDI such a rapid car has been lost in the Eos. Much of this is due to the extra 200kg of weight in strengthening the chassis and accommodating the extra mechanicals needed to house and operate the roof system.
But the Eos is not a sports car, – it’s more of a fashion statement, and in this respect it excels.
And with the Volkswagen badge on the front grille it will appeal to fleet managers, thanks to the marque’s reputation for reliability and competitive wholelife costs.
For drivers, there is much appeal in the Eos, although they would be wise to avoid the diesel version and opt for the cheaper and, more importantly, quieter 2.0-litre FSI 150 petrol engine.
P11D value: £21,187
CO2 emissions (g/km): 159
BIK % of P11D in 2006: 21%
Graduated VED rate: £135
Insurance group: 11
Combined mpg: 47.1
CAP RV (3yr/60k): £9,625/45%
Monthly lease (3yr/60k): £389
We don’t like:
THREE RIVALS TO CONSIDER
THE Peugeot is the most expensive but does come with the most equipment – leather seats and cruise control are standard on the 307. The Astra and Megane are in high-spec trim, while the Eos is base level, although it still offers air-conditioning and a CD player.
Megane: £21,337 307: £21,377
EMISSIONS AND TAX RATES
THE Renault offers the cheapest BIK bills, costing a 40% taxpayer £142 a month, thanks to its low emissions. The Eos is the next cheapest on £148 a month – £1 cheaper than the Peugeot. The Astra’s higher emissions off-set its front-end price advantage, costing £157 a month.
AN evenly-matched group, with £400 separating first and last place. The Astra leads the way on servicing, maintenance and repair costs and is likely to cost a fleet around £2,200, or 3.63pence per mile, over three years/60,000 miles. The Eos is the most expensive at nearly £2,600.
Astra: 3.63 (ppm) £2,178 (60,000 miles total)
Megane: 3.95 £2,370
307: 4.16 £2,496
Eos: 4.31 £2,586
DESPITE having the most powerful engine at 150bhp, the Megane is the most fuel-efficient, returning a claimed average of 49.6mpg that translates into a fuel spend of £5,500 over 60,000 miles. The Astra is the least frugal on 46.3mpg, while the Eos and 307 return 47.1mpg.
Megane: 9.15 (ppm) £5,490 (60,000 miles total)
Eos: 9.64 £5,784
307: 9.64 £5,784
Astra: 9.81 £5,886
THE Eos leads the way in retained value, with CAP predicting it will be worth 45% of its cost new after three years/60,000 miles for a depreciation cost of £11,400. The Astra and 307 both return 37%, although the Astra loses less cash, and the Megane retains 35%.
Eos: 19.02 (ppm) £11,412 (60,000 miles total)
Astra: 21.20 £12,720
307: 22.33 £13,398
Megane: 23.06 £13,836
AT more than 1.5ppm cheaper than its nearest rival, the Eos will cost a fleet £1,000 less to run than the Astra in second place – and the gap widens hugely when the Volkswagen is compared to the two French models, which both cost more than 36ppm to run.
Eos: 32.97 (ppm) £19,782 (60,000 miles total)
Astra: 34.64 £20,784
307: 36.13 £21,678
Megane 36.16 £21,696
THEY may have pioneered the coupe-convertible sector, but the two French cars are the first to be discounted – drivers looking at these cars want the latest fashion and the 307 and Megane have been around a while now.
The Astra Twin Top is a fantastic car, blending performance and great looks in a competitively priced package, except at this top level where the Eos has the running costs advantage to seal the win. The Vauxhall is better to drive and, in my eyes, to look at, but the Volkswagen makes more financial sense.