The 2007 Volkswagen Eos on the Florida Keys 0

Imagine a New England winter—the air is cold, crisp and clear. It’s a perfect evening to slide back the moon roof and watch the stars with that special someone. Imagine a Florida spring—temperate and green—with weather that makes you want to slide open the sunroof. Imagine a California summer—hot and bright—a convertible paradise.

Picture a car that can satisfy all three: the view of a moon roof, the breeze of a sunroof and the sheer satisfaction of a convertible.

Enter the 2007 Volkswagen Eos.

The Eos is the first hardtop convertible with a sunroof. While it may sound well overdue, this car has arrived right on time to usher in a new bar height for others to crawl under.

The secret is the coupe-sunroof-convertible (CSC).

“The CSC is a revolutionary five-panel roof that transforms the coup’es hardtop, with integrated sunroof and heated-glass rear window, into an open-air convertible,” said Kristin Lambert, spokeswoman for Volkswagen. According to Lambert (and first-hand experience) the whole transformation happens in 25 seconds.

Your editor spent a grueling work week between Miami and the Florida Keys in March with other members of the media. While there, we had a chance to check in on this German-engineered powerhouse and see what it can do.

The Florida Keys didn’t know what they were in for when the 3.2L turbocharged V6′s roared to life.

To be honest, I was a bit skeptical at first, not sure what the land of Bugs and Jettas was putting out in the Eos.

The Eos seemed strangely at home in Key West (which features the end of U.S. Rt. 1 and the southernmost point in the continental United States) enroute to Key Largo.

The 3.2L package I drove includes a double clutch automatic transmission system. You simply don’t feel the gears shift. It’s a computerized system that’s so smart, it could out-shift a professional racer, according to one Volkswagen spokesman.

While I tested the better engine package, the Eos comes standard with a four-cylinder engine and manual transmission also.

The convertible mechanism is a thing of beauty. As long as the Eos is stopped, one lever raises or lowers the top, sunroof and all, and folds it into the trunk in less than 30 seconds.

The Eos is also fast. 0-60 mph is well covered and (shh) so are 60-80 and beyond. The turbocharged engine performs amazingly well; stick your hand out the window in a Cali-style sloped motion if you need any visual help in that area. The car is just a pleasure to drive.

An onboard GPS navigation system is available to make sure your road trips don’t involve any more gas station stops than necessary. It’s built into the LCD on the dash and powered by DVD (by the way, there’s DVD too) so the system is constantly upgradeable.

One such upgrade-a partnership with Google Earth-is on the way, according to a VW press release.

Of course, AM/FM radio is included and satellite radio is an option that’s growing in popularity. This is powered by a 10-speaker Dynaudio sound system. A six-disc CD player in the armrest rounds off the audio/visual elements.

So those are the specifications and specifics. What makes the Eos better than any other sports car?

More importantly, what was it about the Eos that impressed an otherwise not easily-impressed media type?

As soon as I stepped into the driver’s seat, the Eos felt like it was mine.

It’s a hard feeling to describe. The smaller racing-style wheel and sleek racing pedals give the car an exciting edge. The side mirrors can be adjusted without looking away. The top comes up with a flick of the wrist. It comes in a variety of sexy colors. The seat was adjustable in a dozen different ways, including spinal support inward and outward; something swoon-worthy.

Basically, this car is actually comfortable to sit in and drive for several hours.

Think about that.

The whole concept of stretching legs was invented as a break in the otherwise uncomfortable long-form driving scenario. Here, it’s just not necessary.

The Volkswagen Eos is the ultimate cruising vehicle. It will seat four on your way to New England, Florida or California, no matter what season.

Skepticism resided, the Eos pleased me. It delivers. I just wish it was included in the “Three V-dubs for under $17,000″ campaign.

It starts around $27,000. The 3.2L is nicely equipped at $38,000.