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Five Reasons Why You Should Never Buy a Hardtop Convertible

 
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2008 Volvo S40 4-door Sedan 2.4L Man FWD Side Exterior View

Like a modern day version of The Black Death, this plague has already ravaged Europe. Despite published reports of rampant mechanical problems and ridiculous engineering compromises not seen since the Eisenhower Administrationpeople are yet again being suckered into buying hard top convertible automobiles.


Each year as summer arrives many people find themselves being overcome by the notion of owning a convertible. The purchase of a convertible car is the least practical automotive proposition bar perhaps a Lamborghini Murcielago (although that vehicle does come in an even less practical convertible guise as well). While you buy an SUV for your family and your duties, you buy a convertible with your heart. Convertibles, like sports cars, are the purest form of the automotive art. If a convertible is no fun to drive and ugly what is the point?

Sacrilegiously enough, some people are trying to turn convertibles into a quasi-rational proposition with highly technical hard tops that fold into the trunk. Or I should really say, what is left of your trunk. Hardtop convertibles may look cool when the metal roof folds into little pieces of origami but it will still leave you with no trunk space. Essentially the only time you can use the trunk is when the top is up.


So who do we have to blame for this? Well, in this country Mercedes started the trend anew (Lincoln used to sell a hardtop Continental in the 1950s) with the SLK but on the global stage it was Peugeot who took the lead. As the SLK is a pricey luxury car and not a low budget French compact it has taken a while for competitors from BMW, Lexus, Infiniti and Volvo to follow suit with inevitable copycats.


Currently selling 2 varieties of hardtop convertible around the world, the first Peugeot to use the technology was the low priced 206 hatchback. This regular version of the 206 that had a roof wasn't very reliable or rigid in the first place so once they turned it into a hardtop convertible it turned out to be a downright tart French lemon. But that didn't stop Peugeot from selling these convertibles by the absolute boatload. The fact that the hardtops had a habit of getting stuck as customers pulled off the dealer lot was beside the point.


Oddly enough, this summer we are seeing a huge influx of new hardtop convertibles on U.S. soil. No, Peugeot isnt coming back to the United States yet but who knows? If Fiat can buy Chrysler then why cant Peugeot take over GM? Scratch that. I dont think we need Escalades assembled by unionized French employees. They already hate us enough.


Pretty much all of these new convertibles are from the luxury spectrum with the new Infiniti G35, Lexus IS350, BMW 3 series and Volvo S40 all making entries. The only mainstream manufacturers to offer them are VW with the Eos and Mazda with its hardtop version of the Miata. (Another act of heresy but I will get to that later.)


Many buyers rationalize the purchase of a hardtop convertible by saying that it affords them the quietness and security of a coupe mixed with the fun of being able to put the top down. Well, if you haven't driven a modern day soft-top then you would be shocked by how quiet they are at freeway speeds. And if you are worried about car security, why aren't you demanding shatter proof windows on your next car? A thief can put a hammer through a side window as easily as he or she can use a knife to cut open your soft top.


If you don't believe that a cloth top convertible can be quiet then just mosey on down to any Audi dealer and test drive a TT or an A5. As one of the last luxury car makers to not buy into the hardtop convertible craze, this German automaker really has, along with Porsche, perfected the art. Beyond this, here are five good reasons NOT to buy a hardtop convertible this summer.




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Comments (8)
  1. The S40 is not available as a convertible though, I think you mean the C70.
     
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  2. Lincoln didn't build a hardtop convertible in the fifties. Ford did with the Fairlane in 1957, 1958, and 1959. The Lincoln was considered to limited to make it cost effective. To anyone who has had to deal with a cloth "rag" top the new hardtops are great. With so many mistakes in this article, why does this guy have a job as an automotive writer?
     
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  3. written by a prius owner. Look I have no room in my flat as I live in London. Why do I choose to live in a shoe box? because being here is fun. A convertible is fun, hard or soft top. Chill the f*&k out.
     
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  4. I have an SLK

    1. My car is not ugly thank you very much

    2. There is plenty of room for groceries in the trunk with the top down

    3. The "extra weight" is not that crucial given that this is a *car* (& a roadster at that) & not a *sailboat*

    4. So? Welcome to the 21st century ... where *all* cars are complex - why not have some complexity that adds fun

    5. Why oh why would I buy something exclusively because it's existed in the past???

    Oh & BTW sounds like you've never lived in a large city - we who do know that rag tops get routinely slashed in any part of a city
     
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  5. You are SO wrong. I leased a 2007 Mercedes SLK hardtop convertible and then a 2009 Mercerdes SLK hardtop convertible for an additional 4.5 years. I loved both these cars. I felt safe with the hard top (rather than soft top), a real glass window in the back, and many other features. There was absolutely room in the trunk, even with this small car and the to folded into the trunk. I would not hesitate to get another one and I WILL be leasing another hard top convertible next year. I never had one mechanical or other issue with the hardtop convertible. It was wonderful and I enjoyed every minute of driving it whether the top was up or down.
     
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  6. Interesting thoughts. I was looking for Aston Martin V8 Vantage, and I believe soft-top version just spoils all the beauty of the car! The is no hard-top version (and I don't really interested in it), so prefer non-convertible version of the sports car. I tried to drive Mercedes SLK250 with roof down at speed of 110 miles/hour - I'd say that's not very pleasant, and I'm no really a fan of convertible cars - just looks cool from outside.
     
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  7. I have the Mercedes CLK 430. The car is beautifully engineered, but the soft top looks worn and strained. I prefer soft tops to hard tops for their elegance, but be prepared to replace them.
     
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  8. Nonsense. I have a 2007 VW Eos, and it has been a great car. Slightly bulgy back end, OK, but the newer models are better looking. The roof is a sun roof, which no other hardtop convertible has, as far as I know, which is terrific in the winter just for the light. Cloth convertibles don't have that.

    The only drawback was that once I put the top down with a plastic bottle in the wrong place in the trunk. A terrible screeching noise followed, and the top had to be manually articulated to close and open it - repair cost was $600, which caused another screeching noise to come out of me.

    Apart from that, tho, its been great. I have parked it on the street in New York a lot, and, OK somebody broke my window and took my GPS, but that happens.
     
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