12 convertibles you should avoid this summer
It's summertime and a heatwave is gripping most parts of the country.
Might be a nice idea to get something roofless, you ponder, as you lazily get off the couch to refill that glass of Oros.
That's a swell idea, but some drop-top options could induce sweat for all the wrong reasons.
You might envisage yourself looking like a glamorous, well-paid travel influencer as you cruise around town. But in these options, you run the risk of looking like a small-time content creator with only a handful of followers and no blue tick next to your name.
Of course, this is not a definitive list. And please don't take offence if you own one of these fine specimens, or if you're a content creator with only a handful of followers. And no blue tick. You're speaking to a journalist whose Instagram following could fit into a three-row sport-utility vehicle.
Without further delay, allow me to present to you a selection of al fresco motoring options from the past two decades that shouldn't feature on your shortlist this summer.
Range Rover Evoque convertible
The original version of the baby Range Rover was an instant hit. It was hugely fashionable and just about everyone, openly or in secret, desired the edgy, premium British soft-roader. In addition to the five- and three-door body styles, the convertible was offered locally in 2016. If you could drive such a naff thing confidently, roof open, then kudos.
Volkswagen Golf 6 GTI cabriolet
In the pre-Dieselgate era, Volkswagen was pretty experimental. Some creations were more curious than others. Take one class-leading hot hatchback, then ruin it completely by chopping off its roof Scuttle-shake and blunted performance due to the added weight meant the fabric-top GTI had lost the essence of what the acronym symbolised. The rarity factor of the model offers some redemption.
Peugeot CC models: 206, 207, 307, 308
Peugeot did coupé models really, really well. Just look at the two-door iterations of the 406 and 407, or the gorgeous RCZ, before you have a go at me. But its folding metal hardtop creations were less appealing. Chunky proportions made for ungainly styling, larger mass due to required structural reinforcements impacted dynamics and the complicated nature of those ceilings? No wonder you see examples listed for next to nothing on the classifieds.
Citroën C3 Pluriel
Sighting one these days is a rare occasion. And a remarkable one at that: you are looking at a person who suffered through years of ownership, with a convertible top that had to be disassembled and reassembled like a tent. Admittedly, there is something really cute about the snail-shaped Gallic convertible and its modular ceiling arrangement.
Renault Mégane CC
When aficionados cite famous French motoring rivalries, they might include the Peugeot 307 and 308 CC facing battle against the roofless Mégane, which also had a folding metal top. OK, it was hardly an epic duel: both emerged as losers as time proved.
Germany's riposte to those French connections above was the Eos. A cool name, nicely aligned with those sun-seeking ambitious. But imagine if they had given it a simpler, more elegant canvas roof instead? Or if the Eos had taken shape as a fixed-roof coupé? You could have it with a 2.0-litre, normally-aspirated or turbocharged, manual or DSG.
Chrysler Sebring convertible
The Sebring in regular saloon guise wasn't a particularly good car. As a starting point for a convertible, you have to wonder, why? Chintzy styling, shiny wheels and ornate embellishments, the Sebring conveyed delusions of success. Neatly reinforced as the car of choice for the likable but blundering branch manager Michael Scott from The Office.
Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Another chariot of choice for Michael Scott. There was a time when the five-door PT Cruiser was a hugely trendy and alluring piece of metal. Its appeal in our market had long dwindled by the time the drop-top came around, replete with styling updates and large, fixed central hoop.
Mazda MX-5 RF
Local custodians of Mazda said the traditional version of the ND MX-5, with its manual gearbox and fabric roof, had been slow to sell. So they thought it would be a bright idea to remedy the situation by cutting that derivative, offering the MX-5 in the worst possible configuration instead: exclusively with an automatic gearbox and the heavier, more complicated electric folding metal roof. Look at the premium carried by pre-owned examples of the manual, soft-top version. Not many people want the RF. Buy yourself a proper, standard ND roadster and keep the spirit of Jinba-Ittai alive.
What grates me the most about the SLC is that they reappropriated the handle of the classic C107 of yesteryear. The contemporary SLC was just an R172 SLK with a different name and some styling revisions. Why anyone would have picked it over the Porsche Boxster or BMW Z4 of the day, is baffling. An exception does apply to the SLC 43, however. Or even better, the pre-facelift with the 5.5-litre V8.
Lexus IS 250 C
If you ever have the good fortune of meeting my colleague Thomas Falkiner, ask him about the Lexus IS 250 C. A look of pure disdain is what will result at the mere mention. You can understand why. While the IS saloon of that era was striking, visually and dynamically, the “C” - encumbered by the folding hardtop arrangement that was so ubiquitous in those days - was less enticing. It lacked the svelte, lean appearance of its direct rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The compromise in structural rigidity also detracted from that hallmark of driving refinement one associates with Lexus.
Based on the front-wheel drive Corsa platform, the Tigra was not designed from the outset as a roadster with sporting potential. This was strictly for posing, a low-speed, open-air steed, from a time when Samsung flip-phones and music from Danny K were right on trend in Mzansi. We should also give a dishonourable mention to the Opel Astra Twin Top.
Got any other suggestions of no-go convertibles for the author? E-mail email@example.com
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.