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A guide to convertible carsBack

BMW4SeriesConvertibleSpring is a popular time of year for sales of convertible cars. Buyers are keen for summer to arrive, and what better way to enjoy it than behind the wheel of an open-top car exposed to the elements!

You’ll usually pay a premium for a convertible car – manufacturers get away with charging inflated prices for the added appeal of a soft-top , and most buyers will pay it so we really can’t blame them.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a convertible, follow Trusted Dealers’ guide below, to avoid any pitfalls and ensure you get the best value for money when it’s time to close the deal.

Should I buy one?

There are many pros and cons to purchasing a soft-top car. The pros are quite obvious – you get to explore the world of open-top driving, feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your face etcetera. But what about the cons? Below we cover some of the areas you may need to consider before buying a convertible car.

Security – security has been heightened a great deal on modern soft-top cars, but the fact remains you’ll have more security in a closed top car where your belongings are not exposed to thieves.

Refinement – refinement has improved significantly in soft top cars but there will still be a higher level of cabin noise prevalent. Some people love the roar of an engine on an open-road, but if you’re not a fan, you may want to reconsider.

Practicality – A convertible will never be as practical as a normal car. Often the folding roof reduces your boot space and the mechanics of the roof can and do go wrong at times. Many manufacturers now make four-seater models, but space is still quite tight on longer journeys.

Safety – there’s no denying that if you’re in an accident, you’re more exposed in a convertible car, but many modern convertibles now have pop-up roll bars which will react in the event of an accident, providing more protection than just the windscreen mounts.

261211 Save money on car insuranceCost – convertible cars will usually cost more to buy than non-convertible equivalents. The more you pay for a convertible, the more likely you are to benefit from the latest design systems. Cheaper convertibles may require tools and manpower, so it’s worth paying more for your convertible if you can because the harder it is to convert, the less likely you’ll probably use it.

Handling – despite the past stigma behind convertibles, modern soft-tops are just as capable of handling as well as normal cars. Weight and stiffness is no longer an issue and soft-tops are being made to be just as light and with as much rigidity. Some of the convertibles best known for their superb handling include the Mazda MX-5 and the Porsche Boxster.

Maintenance – convertibles may require a little more TLC, particularly if the roof is a canvas one. You’ll need to make sure the roof is up after every journey to protect the car from rain and if you have a garage, its best to store your convertible in there for added security. Fabric tops may also need to be patched or replaced if they wear down or are vandalised.

Climate – If you’re considering buying a convertible it is well worth thinking about the climate you’ll be driving in. The UK is not prone to boiling temperatures, so it is likely you’ll spend a lot of the year with the roof on. However, soft tops have now been designed to be more attractive to cooler climates thanks to seat and neck warmers and blowing heat vents designed to keep passengers warm.

Insurance – If you’re worried about insuring a convertible car, don’t be. Insurance companies do not penalise soft-top owners unless a particular model is prone to theft. In some cases, convertible cars can cost less to insure than regular cars.

Soft top or solid retractable roof

A solution to some of the points above is to choose a car with a retractable solid metal roof such as a BMW Z4 or a Mercedes-Benz SLK. These type of cars will genuinely be more expensive to buy than a canvas top, and you will lose luggage capacity as the folding top often encroaches on boot space.

Fiat500CConvertible or Sunroof

If you’re not sure whether to opt for a soft-top car, there are many cars now available with what is essentially a larger sun roof. Cars with foldable sun roofs stretching from one end of the car to the other are increasing in popularity and will appeal to buyers on a budget. Some city cars are even available with a sunroof such as the popular Fiat 500C and the Citroen C1 Airscape.

Convertible or Coupe

Convertibles and Coupe cars are very similar aside from the fact one has an open top and one has a closed hard roof. Choosing which one to go for is down to individual taste. The advantage of a coupe is that it will offer more security and generally refinement will be less compromised, but a convertible will be less confined and both have small boots.

Convertible sports cars

Not all convertibles are sports cars, and many modern convertibles are now available as four-seaters, so there’s room in the back for the whole family to enjoy. If you’ve got small children, you might struggle to fit car seats into the back, but this is also the case in some coupe cars. If you’re looking for a family car, you may be better suited to an SUV, medium or estate car.

Converting a convertible

If you are put off by the idea of converting a convertible car yourself, there are many cars that are aftermarket hardtops, which pretty much semi-permanently turn a convertible into a hard top. Some of the most popular examples include the Mazda MX-5 and the Audi TT. Land Rover has also recently announced that it will be producing a convertible version of its highly popular Range Rover Evoque.

Top 3 buying tips

If you decide that a convertible car is the right choice for you, here are three simple buying tips from Trusted Dealers to ensure you get the best value for money on the forecourt.

  1. Colour – buyers are advised to choose standard colours such as black or white which are popular on the second-hand market. Opting for a bright yellow might seem like a great idea and will certainly get you noticed, but might not be to other buyer’s taste when it comes to resale. Consider your choice of interior colour scheme, too – dark leathers or fabric may heat up quicker under the sun. Consider your choice of interior colour scheme too – dark leathers or fabric may heat up quicker on sunny days.
  2. Running costs – the cheapest convertible cars might not always be the cheapest cars to run. For example, the Fiat 500C is not the cheapest car to buy, but it is one of the most economical. It might be worth forking out a bit more cash to save money in the long run. Furthermore, an economical car will prove more attractive to used car buyers.
  3. Classic cars – if you fancy something a bit different, why not opt for a classic open top car? Classic models may cost more in terms of maintenance and servicing, but they can prove just as economical as modern convertibles. The reason being that most modern convertibles will depreciate over time whilst a classic soft top will most likely do the opposite.

Posted by Leana Kell on 23/03/2016