2008 Convertibles

by

The Car Family

For more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/

For quality computers and servers that can be made to order (use the interactive order form) and with USA customer service try http://eracks.com

For a list of all car websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

Make your garage happy this holiday season, put something under the roof that will make the neighbors feel old and nothing says that better than a shiny new toy whether it is a Bentley, Mercedes, Audi, or for the self-actualized, a Pontiac convertible. Regardless of what model you choose two things are assured. First, you are going to make your insurance agent very happy and secondly, a relative could have gotten it for you cheaper.

With the most major arteries clogged what you are seen driving is just as important as how fast it goes. So the ideal holiday car is one that articulates style while waiting for the (circle all those that apply) rockslide, floodwaters, movie star gawkers, accident, fire engines, out of state RVs, undressing surfers, and/or crashed Ferraris to be cleared.

Only a couple of decades ago the car industry had written off convertibles as too dangerous due to potential deaths and injuries due to rollovers. Imagine if they had that same safety interest when they started tossing top heavy SUVs on the public which are so unsafe that the government, always slow acting, is forcing manufactures to offer some sort of stability control. That being said, there are now a terrific, entertaining, and fabulous group of convertibles available, including those with retractable hardtops. Here is a review of almost every convertible with the exception of the Ferrari—who wants to pay $100,000 over list, the Porsche, you can’t test our cars because you wrote they weren’t so good, and the restyled Mitsubishi. Pretty much all the others have felt the weight of our rears in their seats.

For the size doesn’t matter buyer the Mazda MX-5 (nee Miata) now comes with as a hardtop convertible that tucks into the briefcase sized trunk. You get room for two and your bottle of STF 50 sun block and not much else. On the other hand that’s all you need. With Mazda’s $22,000 flingable flyer the sky’s the limit for this young at heart tanning machine.

Want something even minier? Try the MINI Cooper convertible. You can order yours with a turbocharger if you fancy playing tag with the big dogs. Either way its Bulldog stance, retro interior, and road-hugging ride make the MINI both frugal and exciting. A perfect car for that tight parking space, too, and you don’t have to challenge your credit limit with a starting price around $22,700 for the fuel sipping 115 horsepower Brit.

Larger five passenger convertibles from Chrysler and Ford are best sellers due to their pricing, relaxed fit comfort levels, and easy egress. No surprises and plenty of standard features make the new 235 horsepower Sebring and 210 horsepower six cylinder Mustang practical driveway decorations for those who like their vehicles traditional while coveting that topless lust. Priced around $30,000 and $24, 000 respectively and ideal for those who just want to get there with a little style and ruffled hair. The Mustang is the nosier of the two with its rough and ready exhaust and a V8 that promises the joy of acceleration. However, it is deer unless you go with the base model. Our test GT was priced over $30,000, well over. It is good looking and can be equipped to your taste, but overall this Ford is going to have its hands full when the competition from Chrysler and General Motors enters into the fray in a few years. Get the base model, the very good six-cylinder engine, and drive a bargain. The Sebring is very large and has a fair amount of cowl shake on tax deprived roads. It is ideal for a large family or those who need room for four adults. Much better than the previous Sebring, the new ones is for those who like to cruise.

Hard top convertibles are hot and the Pontiac GT is one of the best sellers. But be prepared to pay $30,000 for the privilege of watching the metal top fold gently into the trunk to reveal its solar appeal. The 217 horsepower engine gets over 27 mpg. Cute, but the trunk space is Speedo sized. Until a new Firebird emerges, this is the best open Pontiac you can buy and can be well worth it in the long run. Don’t look for a hot rod or canyon cutter, though.

A bit more expensive, but hey, it’s the holidays, are hard top convertibles from Volkswagen and Volvo. We especially liked the Volkswagen Eos, as it not only had the metal top folding option, but a glass sunroof as well. So cool and priced well at about $30,000. The 200 horsepower engine is responsive, gets about 26 mpg, and likes to play. It is easy to see that the Eos is going to be a good seller for Volkswagen and resale promises to be high.

The Volvo was another matter. It was bigger and pricier at $43,000. Competent and eager to please the typical driver, the 227 horsepower Volvo has also been rated one of the safest convertibles you can buy. Spacious and well equipped, the C70 returned 18 mpg for this hardtop convertible with a glued to the road ride. When you compare the ride and handling of the Volvo to the Sebring in terms of performance, handling, and room there is no question they are very similar. So where does the extra $12,000 for the Volvo go? Probably into the abundance of safety features and a more elegant interior as well as that retractable hardtop. The Volvo won’t offend anyone and makes you feel good, but don’t race any Saabs. Speaking of which, the $39,000 Saab is one of our favorites, though it does not have a retractable hardtop. Sharp handling, able to attract attention especially in Electric Blue, this is an underrated driving experience with its turbocharged 210 horsepower engine. Great seats and a responsive engine help offset the 9-3’s large turning radius and dependence on premium fuel. Best of all, its still a bit quirky.

Covet moving to the head of the class? Try the $82, 000 BMW 6 Series convertible. This understated yet elegant convertible is stunning inside and out. Its 360 horsepower may not be as fast as Santa’s reindeer, but he doesn’t have Real Time Traffic information that suggests alternative routes around holiday traffic. And, I’m sure the view out of the BMW’s windshield is better. Fast fun for those who like to drive and don’t mind 19 mpg on high-test fuel.

If you willing to deal with the slow shifted SMG seven speed transmission BMW has put into the M6 convertible, you can count on 500 horsepower, a multitude of transmission, engine output, and ride settings, and a swift power soft top. We highly recommend that you drive this stunning four-passenger convertible and see if you can live with the iDrive and the shifting of the SMG. If you can this is one super fun ride that can get you to 60 mph in less than five seconds. The cost, over $105,000 and that doesn’t count the $3000 gas-guzzler tax. We got 14 mpg, but enjoyed every ounce. However, we never could master the transmission and the way it takes over for you by blipping the throttle for downshifts and being slow to upshift at times. Hopefully, this lovely engine will find happiness with a manual transmission shortly.

What says love more than his and her Mercedes convertibles? In this case the so fast $90.000 6.3 CLK AMG and the stunning retractable hardtop equipped SL 550 roadster. The SL550 has a new seven-speed automatic, a $94,800 price tag, and a 382 horsepower engine. A study in chic understatement, this convertible has everything from stability control to deployable rollover hoops. A great choice for the well kept. In the other corner of the garage is the “What has god wrought?” CLK AMG with 495 horsepower to propel this four-seat convertible to 60 mph fewer than five seconds while looking so innocent. Gas mileage, well better then we expected at 22 mpg in mixed driving.

The only Porsche we can recommend is the 911. The Boxter and the rest are very pricey and don’t offer the performance of other vehicles in their price range. You are paying a lot for the Porsche name at the dealer and at the service bay so why not get one of the truly great Porsche’s and buy the Cabriolet? It is solid, swift, and actually not too bad on fuel consumption. If you can afford the $137,000 get the turbo version and never have to use your rear view mirror again. Those flashing red lights are for you.

Last, and easily the most sexsational holiday vision for your driveway is the Bentley convertible. No need to decorate your dwelling, simply park this beauty out front and watch the traffic slow to view the true spirit of giving. Yep, it is expensive at $190.000, but you had 12 months to save, which is the real reason the holiday season is at the end of the year. The Bentley is a study in outrageous numbers. Two turbochargers, four wheel drive, six speed transmission, a dozen pistons being rammed into action by enough exploding hydrocarbons to make Exxon stockholder’s shout in glee, 15 mpg, 552 horsepower, and I didn’t’ even mention the gas guzzler tax. Whether it is humiliating the Highway Patrol helicopter, or just maxing out your gas credit card, this is the vehicle for those who aspire to show their true love of consumption in this season of giving.

Family conference: There are a few convertibles we couldn’t get for testing and that includes the updated Jaguar, Honda 2000, and the Mitsubishi Eclipse Sypder. The Volkswagen Beatle, Lexus, Toyota Solara, and PT Cruiser are all long in the tooth and don’t have much new to offer even though they are good value with the base engine. That being said our test revealed that buying a convertible no longer has to be considered a summer only decision. Much better top construction and a more solid chassis make the decision to own a convertible as ease as for a sedan or coupe. We especially like the hard top convertibles that blur the distinction between coupe and convertible and offer both glamour and practicality.

The convertibles can be grouped into four main areas. First, the bang for the buck category. This is where the Mustang convertible reins supreme. Not as smooth as the others, it nevertheless is fast fun. Second is the price is no object classification. The BMW M6 is quick and elegant, the Mercedes CLK AMG is a bargain, and the Mercedes SL and Bentley convertibles make those insurance payments feel almost worth it. Of these the quick CLG 6.3 AMG is the best combination of go fast and look good. The final category is based on friskiness. These cars are just plain fun to drive fast or slow. The Mazda MX-5 is the best here with the Volkswagen Eos surprisingly almost as fun. The last area is for those convertibles that are essentially for touring. The Chrysler Sebring, Volvo, and even the Saab fit here. The former two have plenty of room, but the Saab is just too cute to ignore.

Regardless of which classification fits, this is a great time to buy a convertible. And, they hold their value better than most other models. The only cavet is that they have reduced side visibility and are nosier than their hard top cousins. But hey, that’s what a high output stereo is for. Pass the sun block.

For links to all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

Advertisements