Car of the Year 2008 - Open-top

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What we were looking for
Modern convertibles must offer great open-air entertainment with the least compromise. They have to look extremely good while doing it, too.








WINNER
Volkswagen Eos 2.0 T-FSI Sport
List price £23,667
Target Price £23,094
The Porsche Boxster S may be fast and furious, and the Mazda MX-5 offers fresh-air fun at a low price, but the Volkwagen Eos still our favourite open-top. Its brilliant blend of driving pleasure, everyday practicality and affordability is unbeatable.

True to Volkswagen's 'people's-car' ethos, it's an open-top anyone can enjoy. For starters, it has four seats, including a rear pair that's genuinely comfortable for adults to use, so it's a realistic proposition for families.

The boot is useable, too, with space for two large holdalls even when the roof is folded down, and plenty more when it's not.

The controls are sensibly laid out and instinctive to use, and the whole cabin is classy to look at, not least because it's also very well built, as the plastics and fittings feel carefully designed and are made to last.

Even on our favourite Sport model, with its slightly lowered and firmer suspension, the ride is very comfortable; you can feel just enough of the road's texture to give you a sense of contact with it, but it's never jarring.

It's also impressively refined throughout, while engine, road and wind noise only become noticeable at the motorway limit.

With the same 2.0-litre turbocharged FSI engine that goes into the Golf GTI, it's no surprise that the Eos provides a lively performance. It has 197bhp and a tremendous 207lb ft to call on, which means you can nip neatly round traffic and out of junctions in town or sail blithely past other traffic on the motorway when you want to get a proper move on.

Quick and precise
Of course, none of this nipping and dashing would be satisfying if it wasn't for the Eos' superb handling. The steering is quick and precise, and gives plenty of information about the road conditions without ever losing its smoothness.

Combine this with the car's firm hold on the road and you can feel confident at every twist and turn.

Among the biggest feathers in the Eos' fancy cap is that it remains supple and composed whether the roof is up or down - you never have to compromise.

The 2.0 T-FSI Sport may seem a bit pricey next to some rivals, but it'll be money well spent - quite aside from the fun you'll have from driving it, it should be a sound investment, hanging on to 54% of its value after three years.

That makes the Eos a great buy, whichever way you look at it.


BEST BUYS

Under £16,000
Mazda MX-5 1.8i
List price £15,730
Target Price £14,605

Over £30,000
Porsche Boxster S
List price £39,995
Target Price £39,995

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