There’s nothing quite like cruising along in your convertible on a hot summer’s day with the wind in your hair.
However, modern convertibles shouldn’t be thought of as just seasonal vehicles - improvements in components and design mean that they’re much more robust nowadays, and can be good all-round vehicles and certainly worth considering if you’re in the market for a similarly sized car.
Types of convertible
Soft tops - Fabric hoods are the lightweight option, but these fabric covers don’t last forever and over time they can deteriorate. It’s always a good idea to inspect these types of hoods thoroughly on any used vehicle before looking to buy.
Fabric hoods are great for smaller cars as they can maximise the storage on offer by folding into small spaces. Also, they’re often cheaper to construct than hard tops and have a lower maintenance cost due to their less complicated folding systems. The system itself can often be manual, but the more expensive manufacturers tend to opt for power-operated soft tops.
Hard tops - Hard tops use ridged panels that fold and retract into the boot, or even a separate compartment that sits just in front the boot. These offer better protection from the elements and use a more complex retraction system controlled through electrics or hydraulics.
These systems tend to be more complex, so they can prove to be more costly to repair if anything goes wrong. If you’re buying a used car with a hard top roof, always test the system out a few times - especially if you’re looking at older models.
Convertibles need to have more rigidity built into their floor pans to be able to hold the excess weight. Their structure doesn’t have the additional support of a roof or pillars, like your typical car, and this can sometimes change the driving characteristics of convertibles. There are also normally losses in both cabin and boot storage as these areas are required to stow the roof.
Some older convertibles can be less efficient at blocking out general road noise and they provide less insulation, so if a quiet cabin is high on your priority list, you should opt for a later model as these will often have improved insulation and sound deadening.
Before you decide to buy a convertible, we’d recommend taking it out for a good test drive with the hood up and down on your regular cruise through town and the highway this will help you to get a get for the vehicle.
There are so many differences across models in how they perform with convertible manufactures going out of their way to improve your ride take the Mercedes for example their C-Class Cabriolet has an innovative Aircap and Airscarf heating systems. Airscarf keeps the driver and their passengers warm in the cooler weather while still enjoying the fresh air generated with the roof down without the necessity of a scarf. The warm air is released from the headrests creating a pleasurable sensation of warm air being gently blown on your neck.
These days, convertibles aren’t just available at the top end of the market. For example, the economical Mazda MX5, available in both soft and hard tops, starts from a reasonable $41,895 (+ORC). However, there are of course many models that are guaranteed to ‘turn heads’ for those with a larger budget. Convertibles can be great, everyday cars and the biggest budget isn’t necessary to give you the liberating experience of dropping the top while out driving on the open road.
If you’ve ever dreamed of buying a convertible but feel unsure as to whether or not it would suit your lifestyle, the only way to find out is to pick a fine day and head down to the dealer for a test drive, then you can find out if the lure of open-top cruising overcomes some of the practicality issues a convertible may possess.