Volkswagen EOS and BMW X3
By Kelly Foss, MyCarData.com
Whenever one of those picture-perfect days comes along, have you ever found yourself dreaming about cruising in a convertible? I know I have. A convertible would be nice but not many will buy an additional car for such infrequent use. The new VW EOS provides an excellent solution to that recurring problem. It’s a stylish compact with a retractable hardtop at an affordable price.
The EOS, named after the winged Greek goddess of the dawn, feels similar in many respects to the VW Golf compact. The front half of the car and the interior also looks and feels very Golf-ish, which is not a bad thing. The magic of the EOS is that this city sized car is fitted with an ingenious 3-piece hardtop that, at the press of a button, folds neatly into the trunk. With the top up, the EOS is a very stylish 4-seat coupe. And with it down it’s an even better looking convertible.
This convertible/hardtop technology is compelling because it allows one vehicle to fill several important functions. With the top up, the driving experience is like any hard-topped vehicle. It is solid, safe, secure, quiet and weather proof. Unless someone told them, the average passengers riding in an EOS with the top up would have no idea that the car was also a convertible.
For those who live in climates that are cold enough to not normally warrant buying a convertible, the EOS changes all that. There’s no need to own a “regular” car plus a convertible, which inevitably gets treated like fine jewelry and only taken out of the box on a special occasion. The EOS is both cars in one.
With the EOS you no longer have to plan an “outing” that is weather-dependent to enjoy the benefits of a convertible. You can make any drive convertible fun, as the opportunity presents itself, any hour of the day in just seconds. You can capture 15 minutes of convertible joy even in the middle of other activities. The transformation is almost instant and always on-demand.
In addition to the coolness of the top on the EOS, the car as a whole is very good. Our test car was powered by VW’s excellent 2.0T and their 6 speed DSG transmission. This powerful little 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine is turbocharged and delivers 200 horsepower. The DSG is an automatically shifting manual transmission which is the best of both worlds and the car is a hoot to drive. It is very reminiscent of a Golf GTI driving experience! The spiffed-up EOS will have full leather interior, burl walnut inlays, deluxe navigation, sport suspension and a class exclusive sunroof built into the retractable hardtop. The fit and finish is excellent and the entire package is very nicely done.
The $33,995 starting price is totally reasonable for this car.
The BMW X3 is an upscale compact SUV, CUV, SAV. Though called by a variety of names it’s a good-looking, versatile vehicle that fits the needs of a large number of households today.
From a size standpoint, the X3 compares with a Honda CR-V or an Audi Q5. It is a very solid unibody constructed vehicle full of BMW safety and technology. The X3 accomodates five in two rows of seats and has ample cargo space.
The X3 is a premium vehicle and comes with the upscale accoutrements and level of refinement that one would expect from BMW. No corners have been cut on the X3. The car is rock solid, handles itself very well and will protect you in a crash. It is comfortable and precise like most upscale German vehicles. The seating positions are sufficiently elevated to give passengers an expansive view of the road, yet not so high that you need a ladder to get in and out of the thing.
BMW offers the X3 in two models which are based on the size of the engine. The base 28i is powered by a 3.0 liter inline 6-cylinder engine producing 204 horsepower, and the 35i, which is a twin turbocharged version of the same engine, delivers 300 horsepower. Both have the new 8-speed automatic transmission which adds to the efficiency of the total package. All X3 models sold in the USA are equipped with xDrive which is BMW’s intelligent all-wheel drive system. The trade-off is that the xDrive provides always-available 4-wheel traction but turning that extra machinery plus the 3,700-pound vehicle weight delivers a non-class leading 25 mpg highway EPA economy rating for the 28i… which is about the same as the competitive offerings from Mercedes and Audi.
My test vehicle was a 28i costing $43,875. The X3’s highly developed engine combined with the 8 speed transmission delivered a very fine driving experience. I did a mini-trip to Bandera and back and found the X3 to be an outstanding road vehicle. On some off-pavement back roads driving in the hill country, the xDrive acquitted itself quite nicely and took the vehicle places that it could not have gone without it.
Being a BMW it’s supposed to be fun to drive, right? It was! Utility vehicles often feel numb, clumsy and resistant to going in any direction other than straight ahead. The X3 was far more ready, willing and able to drive wherever you feel like going.
In all I really enjoyed my time with the X3. It is a well-planned and a well-executed premium compact SUV. The starting price of $36,750 makes it accessible to many potential buyers.
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