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Home > used car buying guide > The ultimate guide to picking a convertible

The ultimate guide to picking a convertible

What driver doesn't want to enjoy the wind through their hair when cruising down the motorway? Convertible cars are something many of us aspire to - they look cool, are fun to drive and make us feel young again!

With so many great makes and models on the market, it can be difficult to choose which is best for you. Do you go classic or for something more modern? Hard top or soft top? The questions go on. This guide aims to make choosing a convertible a little bit easier.

Decide how practical it needs to be

Some drivers buy a convertible as a second car - they drive their hatchback to and from work every day and keep their sexier vehicle for the weekends. In this case, it doesn't matter whether the car has a lot of boot space or not, as on those occasions you can just use your weekday car.

However, if you can't afford to keep two cars and are considering replacing your existing car with a convertible, this could limit which models you should realistically opt for. If you regularly need to ferry more than one passenger around, take a pet out with you or use your car to help you carry your monthly shop, then you're going to need a more practical convertible which offers a fair amount of room.

If you do need four seats, why not opt for a Volkswagen Beetle? You can still enjoy having the roof down in the summer, but it's a bit more sensible than a Mazda MX-5. Alternatively, there's the Saab 9-3, Audi A5 (if you're after luxury) or Volkswagen EOS to name but a few.

What are you attracted to?

Not many drivers purposely choose to drive what they believe is an ugly car, but there's little point in having a convertible if it doesn't look sexy. Now, everyone has a different opinion of what attractive is - you may want a cute cabriolet over a long, low convertible. Practicality comes first, of course, but looks do matter if you want to be content with your purchase.

Make sure it's fun to drive

Another priority that should be fairly high up on your list is how fun the car is to drive. You simply won't be able to enjoy that cool summer breeze if the car turns awkwardly around corners or struggles to get up to speed. You can read as many reviews as you like, but the only way to truly know whether a convertible is fun to drive is to take it for a test run.

Decide whether you want a hard top or soft top

There are pros and cons to both hard top and soft tops, so it really does depend on your preferences and what you feel most comfortable with. Hard tops, unsurprisingly, are much more durable than soft tops, as they can't be slashed by thieves/vandals. They're also more effective at keeping out any moisture and insulating the car in winter.

Convertibles with soft tops are typically less expensive and, although they can be torn, are cheaper to repair too. If you're after that convertible 'look', then a soft top is preferable - the fabric makes the car look all the more sleeker and sexier. With some cars, such as the MX-5, you can change the roof fairly easily, meaning you can have a hard top on in winter and save the soft top until the summer.

Make sure it's reliable

Although not all convertibles are costly to upkeep, no driver wants to be without their baby for the week while it sits in the garage undergoing repairs. Reliability is important and instead of investing in a crystal ball, we advise checking the Reliability Index.

The index takes data from more than 50,000 Warrant Direct policies and ranks each model of car by its dependability. The MX-5 ranks an impressive fifth in the list (at the time of writing), making it the most reliable convertible on the market. If you're not fussed with Mazdas, you can check the rating of almost any car and see what the average repair cost is.

Do your research

Reading reviews and looking at top ten lists is one thing, but it pays to speak to some actual owners of the car in which you're interested. You can do this easily by joining a dedicated forum - just ask a question and wait for the helpful replies to roll in. It's a great way to learn more about your chosen model and hear the great stories owner tell about their beloved cars.

Soon you'll be cruising down that country lane near you, feeling the wind in your hair. We bet you can't wait.