The UK is expected to be the third largest international market for Volkswagen's new Eos coupe-cabriolet behind Germany and USA after sales of right-hand drive models start here in mid-July.

Importer Volkswagen UK expects to sell 2,600 Eos this year and 4,000 units in a full year. Competition will include the established Peugeot 307CC and Renault Megane Coupe-Cabriolet plus upcoming Ford Focus and Volvo C70 rivals. All have retracting metal or metal/glass lids.

The Eos will be offered with a choice of two trims, five engines (three to start) and manual or twin-clutch DSG automatic gearboxes (the latter from BorgWarner).

Top selling model is forecast to be the 150PS two-litre FSI petrol engine with manual gearbox.

The Eos is based on the Concept C shown at Geneva in March 2003. It has a unique five-piece steel and glass roof which also comprises a sunroof.

VW calls it a CSC - because it has the characteristics of a hard-top coupé, sliding glass sunroof, and fully convertible electrically operated metal roof which takes a claimed 25 seconds to open or close.

All UK models have ESP (electronic stabilisation programme); twin front and combined curtain and side impact airbags for front and rear passengers; semi-automatic air conditioning; front fog lights; electric windows, electric heated and adjustable door mirrors; radio/CD player; 16" alloy wheels; and parking sensors.

The Sport versions add 17" alloy wheels; additional chrome grille louvres; cherry red rear light clusters; sports suspension; aluminium-look pedals and dash inserts.

The range-topping 3.2-litre V6 model also has leather trim and other items.

As always, VW has a large options list which includes high-quality 'Dynaudio' sound system, iPod adaptor and a USB port for connecting memory sticks carrying MP3 music files.

The Eos is built at Volkswagen's Autoeuropa plant in Setubal, Portugal, also the home of the Sharan minivan.

It is 4,407 mm long, 1,791 mm wide and 1,443 high, placing it between the Golf/[to be called the Rabbit when the US finally gets it] (4,204; 1,759; 1,485) and Passat (4,765, 1,820, 1,472) and opening a new sub-segment in the UK market, according to VW UK.

Luggage space is 380 litres with the roof up, 205 litres when down.

New running gear was developed specifically for the Eos, but essentially it combines the Golf's strut system front suspension with the Passat's four-link rear arrangement. It has a transverse engine and front-wheel drive.

The production Eos made its world debut with left-hand drive at Frankfurt in September 2005; the German home market launch is this month.

Buyers guide website Edmunds.com says the Eos will go on sale in the US "this summer" as a 2007 model; VW's own US consumer website offers only basic details and pictures in a 'new models' section.

In contrast, VW UK opened its Eos order book some months ahead of the on-sale date and soon followed that up with full details on its website.

And the name Eos? The Greek goddess of the dawn, VW says.

Graeme Roberts