Convertibles have a short shelflife — pick your summer outfit from these drop-tops
is here and with the warmer weather comes a new wave of open-top cruisers designed to make the most of the Australian summer.
Convertibles have always been more fashion accessory than mere transport, so it’s vital to know what’s new and what’s not when shopping for your next drop-top.
It’s worth noting that — supercar variants apart — convertibles have a short shelflife. They may look stunning when new but they only hold the audience’s attention until the next model rolls into town. Then they’re as old as last season’s summer wear.
Carsguide has pulled together a drop-top guide for any budget.
The acclaimed MX-5 is still the cheapest ticket to open-air thrills. The Japanese maker has added a more powerful 2.0-litre engine that takes the price to $34,990, but you can still get the 1.5-litre for $31,990.
If straight-line power isn’t the be-all and end-all, the Mazda excels as a sports car. It is old-school motoring with light but precise steering and a suspension set-up biased towards cornering over comfort. Interior space is minimal and there a bit of noise with the top down but that only adds to the appeal.
Mazda Australia has sold more than 1100 MX-5s so far this year and spokesman Tony Mee says warmer weather customarily causes a spike in convertible sales. Mazda is looking to capitalise on that with the arrival of the hardtopped RF (retractable fastback) version, which should sneak in before the end of summer.
Minis are all about expressing your inner child and the convertible takes that to new heights. It still comes with all the customisable interior and exterior bling (the fabric roof can be optioned with a Union Jack motif ) yet in base guise is comparably priced to the Mazda at $37,900 for the 1.5litre Cooper. The 2.0-litre fourSPRING Cooper S hits $45,400 and the performance-oriented John Cooper Works arrives in October priced at $54,900.
ABARTH 124 SPIDER
Italy’s take on the Mazda MX-5, the Spider gets a 1.4-litre turbo that delivers an on-paper performance advantage over its Japanese cousin. Power is up, from 118kw in the 2.0-litre Mazda to 125kW, but more importantly peak torque, or pulling power, increases from 200Nm to 250Nm and arrives much lower in the rev range.
Offsetting that is bigger bodywork and a more spacious cabin fitted with more gadgets, which is expected to push the price out to the mid-$40,000 range when the car officially goes on sale next month.
In keeping with the Abarth heritage, the 124 Spider is fitted with a limited-slip diff, beefedup anti-roll bars, Brembo brakes and Bilstein dampers.
Overnight, the Mustang has become the most popular convertible in the country but the downside is there’s a big waiting list. The wait for a 5.0cylinder