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Best convertible and cabriolets 2021
Despite our dodgy weather here in the UK, we buy a huge amount of convertible cars. There’s something better about driving with the roof down and the wind in your hair, right? If you’re in the market, we’ve got together this list of the best across a range of budgets.
Best convertibles with hard tops
It’s no secret that we love our convertible cars here in the UK, but what if you love yours so much that you want to use it everyday, in town and on longer motorway journeys? Well, for a quieter cabin at high speeds it’s worth investigating a hardtop convertible. Their roofs are metal rather than cloth, but fold away with the touch of a button in the same manner. We’ve rounded the best.
Best cheap convertibles
Having a tight budget doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the thrills of wind-in-your-hair motoring. Here our experts list the best cheap convertible cars you can currently buy.
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According to the dictionary of Google… there’s not much difference between a convertible and a cabriolet. A convertible is "a car with a folding or detachable roof". A cabriolet means a "car with a roof that folds down". Then there are roadsters, which are two-seater convertibles and are also sometimes called spiders – or spyders. Sounds confusing but essentially they all mean the same thing – a car that can drop its roof.
Interestingly, originally a cabriolet was a type of horse drawn carriage. It was a two-wheeled carriage with a soft hood and was pulled by a single horse. Cabriolet is from the French word cabriole which means 'goats leap', so called from the motion of the carriage.
Interestingly, originally a cabriolet was a type of horse drawn carriage. It was a two-wheeled carriage with a soft hood and was pulled by a single horse. Cabriolet is from the French word cabriole which means ‘goats leap’, so called from the motion of the carriage.
Types of convertible cars
Convertibles come in a range of shapes and sizes. You can get two-seat convertibles, four- seaters, five-seaters and even off-road convertibles.
You can get convertibles with diesel engines, but they are more enjoyable with petrol engines as these have a nicer exhaust note.
Convertibles with fabric roofs
Many convertibles have a roof made from fabric. Fabric roofs like the one on this Audi A5 are multi-layered to keep the cabin as serene as possible with the roof up but in general they aren’t usually as quiet as a convertible with a metal roof.
Convertibles with metal roofs
A metal-roofed convertible feels just as quiet and secure as a regular hard-top car with the top up, and watching the steel origami unfold looks pretty cool. However, the mechanism adds lots of weight, which affects fuel economy, and significantly eats boot space.
What’s the boot like in a convertible?
Folding roof mechanisms usually eat into boot space. For instance the Audi A5 Convertible’s boot is 85-litres less than the coupe’s with the roof up and you have to lower a compartment before you can retract the roof and this takes up a further 60 litres of space.
Driving a convertible
Convertibles don’t feel quite as sharp to drive as fixed roof cars. That’s because removing a car’s roof reduces its rigidity. Extra bracing is added to make up for this, but often a convertible will still shake a bit more over bumps and a hard topped car.
Performance of a convertible
The extra weight of the bracing and roof mechanism affect performance. With the 190hp diesel engine, the A5 Cabriolet takes 8.3 seconds to get to 62mph, but the coupe version is a full 0.6 seconds faster. The weight affects economy too – the Convertible is 6mpg less economical than the Coupe.
Safety of a convertible car
Convertibles are built to offer similar safety as hard-top cars. They often have strengthened windscreen pillars and either fixed rollover bars to protect your head, or ones which pop out the back of the cabin area within milliseconds of an accident being detected.
Convertibles are almost always pricier than hardtop coupes. For example an A5 Cabriolet costs over £4000 more than an A5 Coupe with a fixed roof. It’s more expensive to insure too, and it’ll use a little more fuel. So there is a price to put on a little extra fun, but do you think it’s worth it?
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