Eos, for those not well-versed in Greek mythology, was their culture’s goddess of the dawn. So it’s not some made-up corporate-speak name like “Integra,” even if the average recognition level with Americans hovers close to 0%. Sadly, America’s recognition of the Volkswagen Eos in general has been hovering near 0% since it first debuted here way back in 2006; on sale for four years now, you still only occasionally see Eos convertibles on the road today.

Why has this car enjoyed such minimal market success here where other VW convertibles have succeeded so greatly (Cabrio, Beetle Cabrio)? Perhaps it’s important to examine what the Eos is and what the Eos is not.

The Eos is: Clever.

The Eos isn’t the first car to have a folding, retractable metal hard-top. If you want to be technical, Ford was doing it back in the 60′s -- but the first modern adapter of the PRHT concept was Mitsubishi with it’s ASC-engineered 3000GT Spyder back in 1996. What makes the Eos’s metal-origami roof clever, then? Well, not only is it a coupe and convertible, but it’s also got a sliding glass sunroof incorporated into it -- for when you want some wind and sun, but not all of it. Clever stuff. Watching the roof go up and down is a spectacle, as it always is with these folding-hardtop cars.

Technical cleverness on the Eos is more than skin deep, too. Like almost every VW, it comes equipped with the 2.0TSI turbo motor. And while you can get it with a traditional six-speed manual in base “Komfort” trim, the optional 6-speed DSG Automatic is a nerd’s transmission dream. This twin-clutch automated manual shifts right now, not in a second -- by design, it’s always got the gear above and below the one you’re in pre-selected on the other clutch, so no matter which way you go it’s just a matter of swapping clutches. If you’ve never driven a car with a DSG, you wouldn’t believe how creepy it feels. There’s no shift interruption at all; there’s not really even a bump when you change gears -- the rpms just drop and you’re in the next gear.

The Eos is: Cute.

This is important for the Eos’ two primary clienteles, which I figure to be: Florida retirees, and upper-class Sorority girls. It’s cute as a button. Just looking at it, you want to give it a hug. This means it has approximately 0 appeal to people like me, who are more into torque curves than body curves. Still, relative to it’s competition (which these days are cheap four-seat drop tops like the Sebring and V6 Mustang) it’s much better looking. But if I wanted to have a cute 4-seat drop top, for this price it’d be a Cooper S JCW, which is actually fun to drive… which brings us to our next point.

The Eos is Not: Fun to drive.

Sorry. All that German heritage, cool technology, turbochargers and DSG gearboxes and TLA’s does not make the Eos fun to drive. It’s a significantly heavier MKV GTI, and if you know anything about cars, heavier is bad. The 2.0T feels overburdened in the Eos, with much more noticeable turbo lag than in a GTI or Jetta. There used to be an optional 3.2L 250bhp VR6, but VW killed that option in 2009 when they realized no one really cared how fast the Eos is. The DSG transmission is cool, but it’s not the most intelligent gearbox out there when it’s in regular “drive” mode, popping off upshifts at part throttle as early as it can to save gas, and while downshifts themselves are quick and seamless, it’s almost like you’re sending a request to a group committee to get one to happen.

Pop the shifter down into “sport” mode and it hands onto revs with tenacity, happily cruising along at 4,000 rpm and refusing to upshift. Which would make sense if you’re carving corners in a GTI, but in a 3,600lb Eos, it feels like it’s breathing heavily just to keep up. There’s a “shift it yourself” gate, but no paddle shifters to go along with it, so you end up not bothering most of the time.

But remember, this car is for Florida retirees and sorority girls, two groups which frankly don’t give a crap about torque curves and transmission downshift response. They mainly care that it’s cute.

The Eos Is: A Cruiser.

Once you get out of red-mist full blooded attack mode, it starts to make more sense. Hold down the fancy chrome lever and watch the top fold. Turn on the stereo to your local mix channel, relax in the comfortable leather seat, and just float down the road. Here it comes into it’s own: the tight structure doesn’t transmit rattles and shimmys like a Sebring, and if it’s not as pretty as the now-dead Pontiac G6 convertible, it doesn’t have a wheezing asthmatic pushrod V6 you need to drown out with Oldies, either.

The ride is squishy-soft compared to the CC Sport I jumped out of into this. There’s body roll, perhaps not Buick quantities. It actually rebounds over bumps. This isn’t a sports car, so don’t mistake it for one and you’ll enjoy it a lot more.

Conclusion: The Eos is a great car for someone wholly unlike myself.

Maybe it’s my own fault for lacking a certain depth of understanding. The Eos wasn’t built for me. Car guys should -- and will -- skip this chic cruisermobile over in favor of the lighter, cheaper, stiffer, more fun-to-drive MKVI GTI. If you’re a retiree or a sorority pledge, you’ll be pleased as punch with an Eos. And that’s what defines a good product -- how well it’ll satisfy it’s intended audience. Here, it’s a direct hit.

2010 Volkswagen Eos Lux

Base price: $32,390 (Eos Komfort)
Price as tested: $40,790 (Eos Lux)

Base price: $27,760
Price as tested: $28,560

Body: Unit-construction 2-door folding hardtop convertible
Drivetrain: transverse front-engine, front wheel drive
Accomodations: 4 passengers

Engine: Cast-iron Inline 4 cylinder with aluminum head
Displacement: 2.0L
Aspiration: Turbocharged, intercooled (Borg-Warner K03 sport turbo, air-to-air intercooler)
Fuel delivery: High-pressure direct injection
Valvetrain: Chain-driven dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters, VVT
Compression ratio: 9.6:1
Horsepower: 200bhp@5,100-6,000rpm
Torque: 207lb-ft@1,700-5,000rpm
Rev limit: 7,000rpm

0-60mph: 7.4 seconds (mfr claim)
Top speed: 130mph, electronically limited (mfr claim)
EPA fuel mileage estimate: 22 city/29 hwy
Recommended fuel: 93 octane premium unleaded

Length: 173.6?
Track (F/R): 60.8?/61.1?
Width: 70.5?
Height: 56.8:”
Curb weight: 3,569lbs (with DSG)

Pros: Painfully cute, reasonable pricing, great cruiser convertible for the Florida crowd, nifty folding hardtop with built in sunroof
Cons: Painfully cute, Not exactly fun to drive, DSG transmission seems confused, 2.0T overburdened, small trunk with roof down
Conclusion: If you’ve been missing the Golf Cabrio since it’s death, this is the car for you. If you like autocrossing and track days, it most certainly is not.

A special thank-you to Chris Duncan at Southern States Volkswagen in Raleigh, NC for letting me test drive the CC and putting up with all my questions.