Project Heartland Eos: Part 2

It’s been a couple months since we’ve checked in on our Eos project. That’s because the Midwest winters are good for killing project car momentum. But we knew that going in, hence the name…Heartland Eos. – Ed.

This chapter is dedicated to those readers who live in the Midwest, particularly on the Great Lakes. You are the only members who can really sympathize with us when it comes to the intensity of winter in this region. Although it remained mild for most of January, who can forget the lovely Valentine’s Day storm that shut down much of the area? And of course, the more recent Easter Weekend snowfall, which dropped over 24 inches of snow on my front porch in 72 hours. These are the joys of living here and for those of us who are silly enough to endure it, we have learned how to make the best of our situation.

Such is the case of my wife and me and the VW Eos that we bought last fall. Beyond the amazing CSC roof for those random warm summer days we will eventually get, it also came equipped with ESP traction control. This has proven to be a huge bonus for us in the winter, making it quite the snow kitten, actually. Upgrading the factory tires to Hankook Winter iPikes made for an enjoyable off-season, traversing the white powder. I strongly recommend snow tires to those who live in this part of the country, and further remark that when coupled with the ESP system in new VW vehicles, it performs quite admirably.

Over these bitter cold months we assembled a small list of upgrades, most of which were easy enough to install in just minutes. This was key, so as to spend as little time in the cold as possible. We saved the tough installs for those few unseasonably warm days, and the final product is what you see before you. All of the items for this chapter (save for the GTI steering wheel) came from OEM Plus, whose customer service and enthusiasm go above and beyond most other retail shops.

Our first two upgrades to the car were quite simple but very useful. The European-market headlight switch (Euro Switch, for short) allows us to flip on the fog lights with the parking lights, without turning on the headlights. Not only is this the preferred way to operate in actual fog, it also just looks killer, especially in the faint daylight of dawn and dusk. This switch also permits operation of a rear fog light, a feature the Eos does not normally come with in the USA. But we’ll come back to that in a moment. We also added a torch light, commonly known as the Touareg Flashlight, in the cigarette plug. OK, it’s not really so much a modification as an addition, but you just never know when a small flashlight could come in handy. The fact that it charges off the car is just so cool, too!

Next are the big guys, and the inspiration for the title of this chapter. We wanted to give the car a slightly smoked flavor, without going overboard. Right now styling options for the Eos are slim, but OEMplus carries quite a few of the available items, both aftermarket and European OEM. As with most new Volkswagen models, the side markers that once resided on the fenders are now part of the mirror housings. We replaced our white/clear factory lenses with In.Pro smoked side mirror markers. Given the dark color of the car, the new marker lights blend in better than the old ones for a cleaner look.

As long as we were working with the mirrors, we decided to upgrade the actual mirrors themselves to European-market convex lenses, which have a special area on the outer edges that offers a more complete view of the road immediately behind and to the side of the car. Merging onto an expressway or making lane changes with these mirrors gives the driver a much better view of traffic. We opted for the blue-tinted versions, which match the Island Grey color of the car nicely, and give the mirrors a slightly tinted appearance. These also seem to have reduced some of the headlight glare at night, which was an added bonus.

While the mirrors are something my wife and I notice every time we drive the car, perhaps the biggest and most noticeable upgrade to others this time around will be the European-market taillights. Just like the factory North American-market tails that came on the car, these are true factory items, so they were straight plug-and-play for the most part. One of the inner lights replaces a reverse lamp with a rear fog light, and you will need to do some minor rewiring and coding in order to utilize it. You will also need the European headlight switch to activate the rear foglight. But the biggest change with these tail lights is that the turn signal is now amber, instead of red. Stunning! Along the top rim of the lights is a nice cherry red smoked portion, which added character to the car, and gave us the darker, more aggressive look we were looking for.

We rounded out this installment with a set of factory aluminum pedals from the current GLI and a GTI steering wheel. The pedals were new and once again came from OEM Plus, while the steering wheel was a previously-used item we found in the VWvortex classifieds. Installation of both of these items was quick and easy, taking less than 10 minutes for each item. Since our Eos is just a basic 2.0T package car with no extra Luxury or Sport packages, we have the standard black pedals and a nice but basic leather steering wheel. The new pedals add a splash of character to the interior of the car. And for those of you who have driven a Mk5 GTI, you’ll know why I think the steering wheel is worth its weight in gold!

The calendar may say it’s spring now, but the warmer weather has been slow to catch up. With warmer months soon upon us, it will be time to ditch the snow tires for something a bit more aggressive and a lot bigger. And naturally, bigger wheels are going to beg for a more aggressive stance. These are our plans as we look ahead, so stay tuned!

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