Pros And Cons Of A Soft Top Convertible

This is a quick list of the advantages and disadvantages of soft top convertibles compared against hardtops. To read about the pros and cons of convertibles in general click here.

The Pros:

  • More proportional appearance, no problem with the clumsy, disproportional rear end that stores the roof in hardtops. However, this point is questionable. I’m fine with hardtop proportions and not so fine with the way a soft top looks when the roof is deployed.
  • Smaller weight, which means lower weight tax and fuel consumption.
  • Significantly lower price than for a similar hardtop.
  • Lager trunk space because of less space occupied by the roof.
  • Less trouble with the roof. Although a rag roof is less durable and more fragile, a single repair bill for a hardtop when some tiny component goes out of wack may be higher than soft roof replacement.
  • Faster roof deployment and retraction. With most hardtops the average time is 30 sec, the best results are about 16-17 sec on some models, on all modern soft tops it’s about than 12 sec.

The Cons:

  • Soft-tops are more susceptible to thefts and break-ins. Using a hammer against a glass window is not a know-how, however, slashing the soft fabric is more appealing to thieves than the loud, catching attention destructive actions against hard materials.
  • They are noisy. The cloth and even vinyl are too thin to isolate you from the outside noises and turbulence. However, some of the new models provide almost as good noise isolation as hard tops.
  • Fabric and vinyl roofs are less durable and more prone to wear and damage: tear and cracking. While a fixed or a hard top will serve a full car’s lifetime, a soft top will need to be replaced in 5 years at the utmost.
  • Unless it it equipped with rollover protection bars that pop up crating life-saving space for the head when the cars turns upside down. Some cars have rollover prevention systems, which costs extra dollars, of course.
  • Good only for garage keeping.
  • Can be kept only as your second summer car if you don’t have sun and warm temperatures all the year round.
  • Your warranty contract will most likely exclude exclude the materials of the top (vinyl, cloth).
  • Soft-top care requires a bit more than just taking it to a car washer.
  • Appearance being an advantage or a disadvantaged is a matter of taste, and my own taste insists that a soft roof on a car looks cheap and misplaced and I know a few people who share this view. Anyway, it’s not the roof but absence of one you are buying a convertible for and planning to enjoy.
  • Higher insurance rates as soft-tops are easier to break in and get vandalized, stripped or even steal that hardtops or normal cars.
  • Many soft tops are manual operated. However, these are cheaper - but such a big disadvantage for some.

Caution! When your top is down, you are more vulnerable to thieves that steal handbags while you are standing at the crossing or a gas station, or just pull over. Also, it’s a very popular scheme when one thief distracts attention by pretending sick, hurt, run over or asking something, and the other steals you bag. Don’t fall into that trap!