Way back in the 1950s, Ford had some models with retractable hardtops for a few model years, and it was the “wizard's magic” until it would get stuck half way up or halfway down. Well, that was 50 years ago. Now the auto industry has a new generation of retractable hardtops, and once you try it you'll never want an old fashioned ragtop again.

The car is called the VW Eos (named after the Greek goddess). It's a four-seater with a lively 2.0 liter four cylinder turbocharged engine, or an optional 250 hp. 3.2 liter V6, which offers more power and considerably more torque down at a lower rpm, where it kicks in closer to throttle tip for jet airliner like acceleration.

My car has as standard what they call the DSG (direct shift gearbox) that can be left in D to shift for itself or you can move the lever over to a separate slot that allows you to pick the gears one by one and drive it like a manual. It can also be downshifted, but only sequentially. I wasn't able to skip gears as I could normally on a common manual shift gearbox.

The Eos's top is one of the marvels of the modern world, so much so that bystanders stop and watch its intricate dance as it folds. Once up, it is solid as a bridge, and I could detect no rattles.

One warning about this kind of top: It needs a lot of room in the trunk because the top stows itself there. So whenever you lower the top you automatically lose 40 percent of your trunk room. There's a storage bin to protect the baggage, but you might have to drive most of your road trip with the top up to get all your luggage there and only put the top down once you've unloaded.

The top has a very large sunroof that can be opened when the top is up. The beauty of this car is that Volvo has much the same thing in the C70 convertible, but that car costs another $10,000 more. Though I haven't driven it, I doubt it could be any better in quality, fit and finish, all of which were A-plus in my test car. (The base price of the Eos is close to $28,000.)

The top has a beautiful shape but the rest of the car is a little bland, though well-built and well-appointed. I was impressed with the optional wood and metal trim in the leather-finished interior.

The dashboard display is easy to see because it has a hood over it, but the center screen is hard to read because it has no hood shielding it from the sun. The navigation system, CD system and satellite radio all use the center screen.

I was ecstatic over the 2.0 liter turbocharged engine in the 2007 VW GTI I drove recently, but this VW Eos – because of the steel top and all the motors to raise and lower it – weighs 400 pounds more. It doesn't have the scintillating performance of the same engine in the GTI, which is why I liked the V6. It had more low-end torque.

Mileage with either version is not going to crack 32 mpg. The four cylinder will get you 1 mpg better in the city, at around 19 mpg, and a little better than the V6 version on the open road, 32 mpg. I think of this car as a compact luxury car, and whenever you want luxury, it's going to cost you in gas mileage.

My test car also had the optional 18-inch wheels and leather seats that come in the Sport package. I enjoyed both!

Overall it's a fun car, though a bit pricey. You'll save money by going with the standard turbo four and save even more by leaving off some of the expensive options.

If you enjoy winter sports opt for this sort of convertible rather than a cloth or vinyl roof because traditional convertible tops tend to go bad in a hurry, sometimes in two or three years depending on exposure to the elements.

Wyss is the co-host of “Autotalk” radio show, which has run every week on KUCR-FM Riverside for 13 years.