So you want to buy a convertible. Summer is quickly approaching, you’ve got some money set aside, and you’re looking for a toy to have some fun with throughout the Spring/Summer/Fall months or even year-round if you live in a warm climate. Well a convertible is perfect for that but as with all cars there are drawbacks, so here are 10 things to consider before making the commitment to purchasing a convertible.
Number one is the weight. You might think that after becoming a soft-top the car might lose weight but in fact, it’s the opposite. The car gains weight due to the supports that need to be put in place to keep the car rigid, as there’s no solid metal roof connecting it from front to back. Besides, the folding mechanism of the roof and the motors also add weight. A soft-top like Carmann will weigh less than a hardtop but, either way, you are gaining weight, so your acceleration might be a little bit slower and the handling a little bit sloppier. Just all-in-all, it’s not as performance-oriented of a car as the standard coupe model would be.
Have you ever wondered why Dodge doesn’t make a Challenger convertible? – The answer is simple – because of the weight. The coupe version of this car weighs about 4182lbs (almost 1900kg, as per Wiki) which is close to the weight of a full-size SUV. The convertible version of this car with strengthened chassis and convertible top motors would be much heavier, and certainly more difficult to drive, even with an almighty Hellcat engine.
#2 Chassis rigidity
If you only want the car to cruise down a coastal town, this shouldn’t matter to you, but if you plan on doing track days or anything along those lines, a convertible might not be for you. More supports are put underneath the car in the sides which does gain weight but also keeps it more rigid. The car no longer feels as stable as a sports coupe and you can even feel flex on hard cornering.
In the event of a crash or, heaven forbid, a rollover, a convertible car may be a little bit more unsafe if compared to regular cars. The safety level depends on the model, but the majority of modern convertible cars are equipped with safety roll bars that eject instantly once the roll-over sensors detect a dangerous angle or a collision. The windshield frames are usually strong enough to hold the weight of a vehicle, which creates a more or less safe cage for the passengers trapped inside.
Although many old-school convertible cars are not equipped with such systems, and therefore become reasonable more dangerous to the passengers.
#4 Storage space
Practicality varies from car to car, but generally, you get less cargo space in the trunk because a folded convertible top with the motors and power braces takes from 10% (soft tops) up to 75% (hard tops) of your trunk area. In addition to that, you lose the ability to fold down the rear seats to load some oversized items.
One of the obvious disadvantages of a convertible car is safety. A soft top is not going to protect someone from just slicing through the roof and grabbing all your belongings or even trying to still your car. If the problem with car thieves can be addressed by getting a locking storage box and additional vehicle protection devices such as a car alarm, manual steering wheel and pedal lockers, immobilizers, and other devices, then a problem with vandalizing will be a little more difficult to resolve. If you’re parked in a bad neighborhood, there is a chance that you can find your car with cuts and holes in the soft top. Although if the area where you are going to park your car can’t be considered a soft-top car-friendly, consider buying a hard-top convertible, such as a Mercedes SLK or a BMW 3-Series E93. These cars are just as thief- and vandal-prone as regular sedans and usually don’t attract as much criminal attention.
#6 The Noise
Convertible cars produce much more noise compared to regular cars due to the nature of their roof construction. The sound waves pass through the soft top material and insulation much easier and can’t guarantee a perfect sound deadening. The window seals is another place that will let the noises into the cabin, as they are usually a little bit sloppier. Convertible never quite match the same refinement and isolation from the outside world as a standard our hardtop cars.
Hard-top convertibles, don’t have such problems and provide a higher comfort level, although you will still hear the squeaking noise produced by rubber seals of the rooftop components on the potholes or other road imperfections. But don’t get upset, this problem can be easily addressed by regular maintenance and lubrication.
#7 Fuel Consumption
This is a little bit of a negligible one, but because of the extra weight that you get in the convertible, the gas mileage will drop. More weight means more stress to the motor to pull around, which results in worse fuel consumption.
Driving with the top and windows down is a challenge for aerodynamics because the airflow behind your windshield creates drag, which will also affect the fuel economy.
Of course, it’s not a surprise, but convertibles are not the most versatile cars on the planet. There are some limitations with owning one: you can’t seat more than four passengers, you can’t take all the stuff that you want to on a long road trip, you can’t load it with bulky items on a rainy day, etc. If you need to do at least some of the above-mentioned things, a convertible should not be your only car. It may be a good idea to have a versatile daily driver or a family road trip car as your second car if you don’t want compromises.
We live in a world where anything can go wrong. A retractable roof is another mechanical component that requires attention and regular preventive maintenance. The motors, regulators, electronics, and moving components of a convertible top must be inspected, lubricated, and replaced when necessary.
#10 Insurance cost
Convertible is a higher-risk car to insure because it’s not quite as safe and not quite as secure as a coupe. It depends on the car itself, so the price difference may not be that noticeable. It’s just another cost that you need to consider when buying a convertible car.
Why it’s still worth it?
The answer is simple – convertibles are awesome! Driving a convertible is a unique experience that allows you to interact with the outside world and enjoy the wind in your hair. Live is short, so why not fill it with some pleasant things. They do cost more, but in the end, you get what you pay for!
Automotive journalist and technical writer with more than 10 years of experience. Specialized in aftermarket parts and modifications. Loves everything on four wheels and obsessed with classic and modern convertible cars.