Pros And Cons Of Hardtop Convertibles

A convertible is always a compromise. You always sacrifice something to the joy of having an open car and a firm secure roof above your head in one vehicle, and hardtops are also not problem-free. The list of pros and cons of hardtop convertible is quite standard, most points repeat from review to review. In my review I tried to add some more points and, possibly, give a more or less fresh look on well-known points.

The Pros

  • No matter how sophisticated car thieves have become today as in concerns penetrating cars, a firm protection of a hardtop still works better that a soft one of a soft top convertible. Breaking a glass is noisy. Rain or shine, thieves still prefer to stay as imperceptible and noiseless as possible, so breaking a glass may be a stronger deterrent than simply cutting the soft fabric.
  • Better noise isolation than in soft-tops.
  • Hardtops are warmer in winter than soft tops, the latter wouldn’t be a good choice in Canada as your only car.
  • Better rollover safety
  • Better rear visibility, less blind spots than in a soft top
  • The hardtop is easier to clean, a regular car wash is enough, while the soft tops need special care.

To be honest, in modern soft-roof verts, the issues of being too noisy on highway, too cols in winter and too easy to cut are now becoming a remnant of the automotive past - the properties of the soft tops are nearly identical to hard ones.

The Cons

  • You will have to move the roof up and down more often than you may expect. Would you leave your drop top car car open when leaving it for a while in the street? The only better thing I can think of is sending an invitation card to the thief. This means putting the roof up and down every time you leave your car. Of course, the soft top does not acquit pulling the roof on, but a soft roof is mechanically simpler, less prone to failure and cheaper to fix or replace in case of breakage. A hardtop loses this round.
  • Ugly looks - definitely a very questionable “con”. Some assert that hardtop convertibles look ugly because of the massive rear end that receives the folded roof, this is one of the most often mentioned drawbacks. In my opinion though, it’s at least an overstatement. At least, in my view none of the most popular models look anything close to ugly. On the contrary, while a soft top with a folded roof looks great and elegant but I always disliked they way it looks when the top is up. Gives me an impression of an old pram or an umbrella pulled over a car, that’s the impression I can’t do away with. Technically, the massive rear is not a problem but rather a matter of taste and a possible solution to small trunk space, as long as the top functions flawlessly and you have sufficient trunk space when the top is down. You can’t blame a van for being too square or a truck for having an ugly truncated rear. Then all SUVs and minivans are total eye-defiling monsters that don’t have the right to exist at all. Sound like some “fat-rear” complex to me. The bottom line (if you’ll pardon the pun) is, I’d rather have my own rear slim and my car’s massive than vise versa ;)
  • Truncated trunk space. Want to enjoy views and the sun? Sacrifice the trunk or drive with the roof up. Definitely a strong con that demolishes the very sense of having a convertible, especially in the so-called family cars: you are going to a picnic and want to drop the top, but where will your store all your buckets with groceries and other recreational stuff? Although Volvo C70 should be rendered some credit for it’s quite usable trunk and yet quite attractive looks.
  • Extra-weight so undesired in sports cars, means extra weight penalty and fuel consumption. That could be an issue for hardtop 2-seaters, obviously purchased for fun and speed rather than practicality, although the owners of MX-5 don’t complain of extra pounds affecting handling and fuel consumption. The extra weight comes from the motor operating the top, the construction that lifts and folds the top and reinforced lower parts of the body that compensate for the loss or rigidity. On the average, weight difference between a hardtop and a similar sedan is 350-400 lbs. However, a 4-seat hardtop convertible is a practical, not a sports cars in the first place. If you are buying a sports car just for summer fun, that should be a soft top, just mind rollover safety, choose the one with pop-up roll bars or just drive carefully. That will cost much less and leave much more space in the trunk, which is more than necessary in summer, the time of picnics and trips to the shore.
  • The price tag, the thing I dislike most about hardtops. The price may be about twice as high as for a sedan with similar specs, leaving a very limited choice to those whose income is not through the roof yet. And if you are seeking for an all wheel drive hardtop or the one with 4 doors, the you can literally choose only between a couple of models. On the average price range, a hardtop being a rational practical solution seems but a hype, especially when the buyer is an average buyer with an average income, an average attitude to cars (which is far below what is known as passion), a couple of kids and, consequently, above the average need for trunk capacity. It’s a matter of prioritizing one’s needs. If one has passion for cars and won’t sleep well until he or she own a convertible (which does not give you an impression of an old pram or an umbrella pulled over a car with the top up - that’s what soft roofs remind me of), and is ready to properly care for it, a hard top is a perfect choice. Provided that one is also ready to part ways with some extra cash without cutting down on necessary daily things. Buying a manual transmission (and a powered top) is a way to save some cash.
  • Higher center of gravity due to the complex roof, which means being less steady on the road and higher rollover risks.
  • Higher repair bills. As long as your hardtop is under warranty all the issues with the roof should be fixed free of charge, provided that the failure didn’t result from an obviously damaging act on your side. However, when the warranty is over only God knows how much you’ll spend on repairs, considering that hardtops don’t have such a long history and are not so well-tested as soft tops, and the mechanism is very fragile and precise.