SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- The seaside curb on Ocean Avenue, perched atop a palm-studded bluff overlooking blue-blue Pacific waves in Santa Monica Bay, is where we encounter the redesigned 2012 Volkswagen Eos pop-top hardtop convertible fresh from a debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show.
Say "EEE-ose" and you're close enough.
The name comes from the goddess of the dawn in ancient Greek mythology and the revamped vehicle from Volkswagen adopting this moniker makes the sun come up every time you tap a console toggle and switch it from a retractable hardtop coupe (with built-in sunroof) to a streamlined open-top and airy convertible.
Sleek Eos with two doors for passengers and seats for four in a well-stocked cabin rides on a platform modified from the subcompact Golf GTI with front-wheel-drive orientation and the muscle of a turbo-charged yet gas-sipping four-cylinder engine.
The 2.0-liter in-line four-cylinder plant -- with turbocharger and intercooler aboard plus direct injection -- produces 200 hp at 5100 rpm and torque of 207 lb-ft between 1800-5000 rpm.
This turbo plant manages to nix the customary lag in timing for launch -- that annoying lull of a second or more after pushing the accelerator while the turbocharger spools up before spitting out boosted torque to turn the wheels.
As a result, the 2012 Eos as outfitted with the turbo in-line-four leaps immediately off the line for a run through the gear ladder.
All of the turbo muscle is manipulated through a twin-clutch and six-speed DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) Tiptronic automatic.
The DSG brings automatic no-need-to-think shifting if you choose, or the hands-on control of manual shifting.
We love to play with a shifter and normally gravitate to a manual transmission. That DSG, however, is the only automated sequential manual transmission we've encountered that makes us rethink our preference.
The metal shell of the 2012 Eos has been honed to a smooth new shape with a streamlined prow and broad horizontal grille tucking between restyled rectangular headlight clusters on front corners containing unique U-shaped LED daytime running lamps.
Flanks show muscular bulges from flares around wheels and side skirts, while the blunt rump has complex LED taillight assemblies wrapping around corners and a body-colored bumper punctuated by dual chrome-tipped pipes.
Yet the coolest aspect of Eos is its conversion from hardtop coupe to airy convertible, a push-button event which only consumes 25 seconds. When you flick a switch on the console, the chameleon VW employs hydraulic cylinders with mechanical linkages to drop sideglass windows, pop open the rear deck lid, pleat the rigid roof panels and fold them neatly into the trunk, then close the deck lid.
And VW's is the only hardtop convertible with a sliding glass roof section in the retractable hardtop.
Here's another asset of Eos: It has Teutonic handling traits and a sport-tuned attitude when steered along a curvy course.
The body structure is made of high-strength rails and beefed-up body panels united by tight bonding techniques such as laser-welded seams. This process forges a strong unibody framework that's incredibly stiff to resist torsional twisting when set to motion and forms a bedrock foundation to carry suspension and powertrain components.
The suspension is tuned for performance. In front, a MacPherson strut arrangement manages to negate that annoying wheel-jerking torque steer effect prevalent in the usual front-wheel-drive vehicle. In back, a multi-link design acts to check body roll while also making the ride quality smooth and comfortable.
And steering is quick but easy through a rack and pinion unit with electric power boost that increases assistance during low-speed maneuvers but decreases the boost as speed rises on the road.
Brakes consist of large disc brakes (ventilated in front, solid at the rear) tied to smart electronic controls. Every edition has an anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) plus VW's anti-slip regulation (ASR) throttle checker and electronic stabilization program (ESP).
Volkswagen trims the 2012 Eos in three editions: Komfort, Lux and Executive.
Eos Komfort rolls on 17-inch alloy wheels with 235/45R17 all-season tires and standard gear like heated exterior mirrors and windshield washer nozzles, foglights, a keyless entry device, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 8-way power controls for heated seats clad in premium vinyl, and an 8-speaker audio package with HD radio, CD deck, iPod interface and touchscreen interface.
Eos Lux upgrades with power-folding mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, automatic wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror, a navigation system and fine leather upholstery, while Eos Executive gets 18-inch alloy wheels with 235/40R18 all-season tires, a sport-tuned suspension and 10-speaker Dynaudio premium audio gear.
Volkswagen sets MSRP points for the 2012 Eos in a range between $33,995 and $39,220.