Despite our generally unkind climate, Brits buy more convertibles (as a percentage of the market) than anybody else in Europe. It’s part of the reason why convertibles come in more shapes and sizes than ever – from tiny two-seater roadsters like the Jaguar F-Type, to luxurious, all-season SUVs like the Range Rover Evoque.
For owners of these drop-top motors, our love affair is easy to understand. But if you’re thinking of joining their ranks, there’s some things you need to consider first…
1. Is it big enough?
Convertibles aren’t renowned for their practicality, so the first thing to ask is; will it work for your life? And will it still work for your life two or three years down the line?
The rear seats – if fitted at all – are often small and designed for occasional use. So too is the boot, and it often gets smaller once the roof is down. Think hard about whether a convertible would work as your only car.
Consider how you’d cope with loading up passengers young and old, hauling all your luggage to the airport, or even the little things that might matter – like bringing home a Christmas tree.
2. Will it be secure?
Look around at the area where you live. The fabric roofs of some convertibles can be irresistible prey for vandals, with a replacement running to several thousand pounds – or a costly insurance claim. Fabric roofs can also perish in winter, so benefit from being garaged. There’s also additional maintenance involved with a fabric roof to prevent mould and moss from growing.
If you’re concerned, opt for a model with a folding metal roof, or look out for a targa top model. These have a removable roof, reducing the car’s weight and dealing with the accusations of portliness that have been levelled at tin-top convertibles in the past.
Remember that leaving the roof open when parked means nothing at all should be left on display – even phone cables. That’s a point to consider if you tend to use your backseats as an extra storage space.
3. Will it cost too much to run?
Most convertibles are sports cars. And that means they’re not often the cheapest cars to run. Be prepared for increased insurance costs – not only are convertibles more appealing to thieves, but they may have fewer safety features (like curtain airbags). You should also expect fuel economy to suffer; roof-down driving increases drag by spoiling the car’s aerodynamics.
4. Will you get use of it?
Convertible ownership is ultimately a compromise – one that’s worth it if you’re able to get the roof down regularly. And if that doesn’t happen often enough, you just end up dealing with all the downsides, without enough of the fun part.
So ask yourself if you’re likely to get the roof down regularly. Think about whether you do most of your driving at night. Do you live in a part of the country renowned for rain, snow and high winds? Is arriving at your destination a little windswept utterly unacceptable to you?
5. Will it be comfortable enough?
Soft-tops can feel relatively cramped, and fabric roofs – with their minimal insulation and soundproofing – can make cars cold, with road and wind noise more intrusive at motorway speeds. If you’re spending long hours behind the wheel, make sure you take an extended test drive.
All things considered, owning a convertible is a fun, exciting and exhilarating experience. If you’re still weighing up the pros and cons of a convertible, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local Inchcape Retail Centre today, for more advice. We’ve a great range of new and used convertibles available, including Audi’s A3, A5 and TT; the 2-Series, 4-Series, and Z4 from BMW; and Mercedes’ SL Class, SLC Class and E Class models.