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Thursday, July 25, 2013

11 practical things to consider when buying a convertible

There was recently a question somewhere on the net about Volvo C70 convertible. After a short talk it wasn't about a C70 but about convertibles in general. To compare convertibles and to set expectations for a newbie are two different discussions. Since there are people having  a convertible desire and never owned one, here are a couple of practical points, the obvious and the less obvious, to consider.

Most probably you need a garage
Outside can be cold, snowy and frosty. Not everywhere, but still. Also thiefs. Your future toy doesn't like none of these things, so doesn't do your wallet. 

Consider a wind deflector
A ride with the wind in the hair might sound romantic, but when after a full-day trip your frequence of asking "What? I didn't understand, could you please repeat ?" increases, you will know why some kind of wind protection is needed. If it doesn't hurt, it's the better case. The leather flying caps from WWI might look like from psychiatry these days, but the creators knew what they did. The creators of wind deflectors knew as well. Some of them are built in, mainly in roadsters (two-seaters), some you have to buy. It's not a cheap thing, but it works great.

What about the trunk / cargo space? Is it large enough?

In our Saab 9-3 convertible we could comfortably pack our stuff for a one week long vacation for two people and drive with the roof down with attached wind deflector along the adriatic coast a couple of hundred kilometers. The back seats are a huge help. Try that in a two-seater.

In general, there is more trunk space in soft-tops, then in hard-tops. Check it, when you buy your convertible. It's far less, then normal sedan trunk space but still with a bit of thinking, you can pack a lot of thigs inside.

Is in a four-seats convertible really enough space for four people? 
For short trips yes. One, two hours maybe. We did two times 11 hours in three people. It was ok. But to do this in four people you need a special kind of people. The ones who enjoy to suffer. Then it's ok.

A cap, a jacket and gloves
You have no roof, so the sun can look into your eyes in a very detailistic manner. A cap helps significantly, together with sunglasses. If you are afraid to look stupid in a cap (I do), you either ignore it or find a normal cap. There are so many choices. Also through the sunny days consider sun lotion. The sunburn can come very quickly.

The temperature jumps sometimes like crazy and you don't want to close the roof. Mountains, fields, city, countryside, morning, sunny day, evening, season, whatever. I've experienced 15º C difference within ~3 hours. You can use the A/C or heater but to have a light jacket with neck protection for the colder passages is very practical. Somewhere hidden in the car, it doesn't take too much place. The gloves are stylish, but that's it. Imho. Try them. Unless you drive with the roof down in winter.

And unless you dont have a special heater for the neck or so which the luxury convertibles offer.

Strong or weak engine? 
Of course strong. All the slow cruising things are *******. A weak engine means less fun. You don't need to be a notoric speeder to have moments when you love to push the gas pedal a bit more than usual. This experience in a convertible is simply more intense. If you like diesels, fine. But be aware of the engine sound. You drive a convertible, not a tractor.

Hard top or soft top? 
Firstly it depends on your taste. From the practical side both have pros and cons. Hard tops are heavier, slower in operation, take more place in the trunk and have a more complicated construction.  On the other hand they are less sensitive against bad weather, thieves and the cars are more quiet in the down position. They are also easier to clean. Soft tops are the exact opposite. Modern soft tops have multiple layers, mine survived several strong storms without any problems.

Dark or light interior? 
Again it's up to your taste. The dark seats heaten up faster if you leave your car open, that is true. In my experience I had only once a situation, where they were really hot. Not a real problem here. On the opossite side, it's an open car, it will always be a bit dirty inside. Do you want to clean it ? How often ?

Parking sensors or rearview camera 
Strictly recommended. You don't see too much in reverse with the roof down. The rear window is small and some kind of assistant is very helpful. 

Heated or / and cooled seats
Heated seats are great, when the temperature goes down or when you drive through the night. It's pleasant and comfortable. I don't have any experience with cooled seats.

Edit: now I have. Well, I can live very well without it.

What is the right temperature for driving with the roof down ?
Depends on your sensitivity. In my opinion the ideal temperature is 24-28ºC (75-82º F), It starts to be too hot after 33º C (91º C) and too cold below 17º C. However in the spring when you can't wait for an open ride, you will definitely drive in colder conditions.

I might forgot on something so feel free to ask. Enjoy the ride.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Alexander, thanks for the nice article.

    Here my two cents:

    Most probably you need a least a carport

    Consider a wind deflector: A must for colder climates. Also you can drive as fast as you can (240 km/h on the Autobahn, ;-) ). On the other hand, I like the "psycho" hair look in the summer...

    What about the trunk / cargo space: 9-3 MY2007, two people and one labrador for a week at the Lago di Como, no problem.

    Is in a four-seats convertible really enough space for four people ? Yes, for short to medium trips on country roads.

    A cap, a jacket and gloves: you need at least a cap and a jacket, if driving with less than 15°C. I am thinking also about gloves, haven't decided yeet...But I use the heated seats sometimes...

    Strong or weak engine? Mine has 210 HP. It is OK...

    Hard top or soft top? Of course, soft top and of course, "sand"!

    Dark or light interior? Light leather please! Dirty things have to be cleaned, that's all!

    Parking sensors or rearview camera: parking assistance is recommendable for the 9-3

    Heated or / and cooled seats: s. comment above.

    What is the right temperature for driving with the roof down? I open the "open season" (sic) when the thermometer shows 15°C. From 30°C and above is getting nasty...

    I would like to add: you will need a decent audio system!

    Cheers, Alexandros