Tag Archive | "convertible"

Open Top Motoring

There is no other feeling quite like driving with the roof off. It feels entirely different from driving in a saloon. Not only do you feel the wind in your hair, but the sounds and the smells are different too. Birdsong and the sweet aromas of the countryside take on a different complexion. And once you have tried it, then it is likely that you will become addicted to it; in a recent survey, around 95 percent of people who own an open top say that their next car will be an open top too.

Modern open tops are every bit as safe to drive as saloons, though there are some precautions you need to take when driving one, as evidenced by what happened recently to a man in Germany who happened to have €23,000 in an envelope on his back seat. He had intended to use the money to pay for a car. The envelope was whisked away by the wind with the result that the driver left behind a paper trail of notes. The road was closed by the police for some time so that they could recover the cash and, surprisingly, €20,000 was returned to him.

So what to wear for open top motoring? If you have done much of it in the past then you will be aware of what a long journey can do to the skin. You might not notice at the time, but with the combination of wind and sunlight you are likely to arrive at your journey’s end with a bright red face which can take several days to fade to a mellower tan.

This can be avoided with the right head gear. The best kind of hat to wear is a peaked cap, and if you want to look cool then a peaked leather cap is a good choice. If you are an all-weather open topper, then why not match it up with a flying jacket? Not only will it keep you warm and cosy when the icy wind doth blow, that retro look is very stylish too, and that goes for both the boys and the girls. Soft leather driving gloves are also highly recommended.

In the olden days raising the roof was a manual job, but with modern open top cars you can raise and lower the roof at the touch of a button; the whole process takes just a few seconds. There are still many cloth tops around, though some modern open top cars have a metal roof which provides the best of both worlds, allowing you to enjoy the wind in your hair along with providing all the comfort and style of a coupe.

The fabrics used to make the roofs of modern soft tops are very different from those that were used in the past. In order to cut out much of the wind noise that one had to endure when the roof was down, many modern soft tops have a layer of insulation sandwiched between an outer and inner lining. This technology has been used on the new Vauxhall Cascada, a particularly stylish four seater convertible that will be launched in 2013. A feature of the car is that you can raise and lower the roof at speeds of up to 30 mph and it takes just seventeen seconds to do so, so you don’t need to actually stop when it starts to rain.


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Topless Mini Soon To Hit The Showrooms

Hot on the heels of the coupé comes the latest in the ever growing list of MINI derivatives. This time it’s a roadster, the sixth unique model in the line-up and it will hit the showrooms next Spring. Although they’ve offered convertible Mini’s before, this is their first two-seater and what a cracker it looks to be. Ever since the first example rolled off the Longbridge/ Cowley production line in 1959 the car has been noted as a fun drive and there’s no reason to think that things have changed with the new model. And being built at Plant Oxford means it can justifiably claim to be a spiritual successor to the traditional British roadsters of old.

Mini claims a useful 240L luggage area with an additional stowage area behind the seats plus a ski hatch. The tailored canvas, soft-top roof has semi-automatic operation for rapid opening and closing up to speeds of 20mph and the company says that it doesn’t affect the car’s practicality in any way. When opened, the roof folds down flat behind the seats, keeping the car’s elegant lines intact. And since the outer skin of the roof faces upwards, there is no need for any additional cover.

Prices appear to start at around £18,000. It will be offered in the usual Cooper variants and, if you’ve got a handy £25k, there will even be a John Cooper Works option. It will be interesting to see how it compares with Mazda’s terrific MX5 for value and performance.

All the usual styling cues are there – including the circular speedo – and the makers claim that the roofline is a sleek 20mm lower than the four-seat convertible for that low-slung appearance. Fuel economy stretches from 38.7mpg to 62.8mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as just 118g/km on the Cooper SD. Even the MINI John Cooper Works Roadster emits only 169g/km. Vital to getting the best from the powerful engines and customary front-wheel drive transmission is MINI’s outstanding chassis technology. It pushes the brand’s hallmark driving fun to the fore, with a ‘go-kart’ feeling that’s agile, precise and stable according to the company. The Roadster has an active rear spoiler in the tailgate. It deploys when the car reaches fifty miles per hour and closes when the speed drops below 37mph. Posers can operate it manually.

As with many new cars today the two-seater comes with electric power steering. It remains to be seen whether or not the familiar handling and feel will be compromised – MINI say not. A sport button is included to alter steering and accelerator responses should you be in the mood. You’d think that we would all be getting fed up with an endless stream of new Mini’s, wouldn’t you, but with a generous list of standard equipment and some great new features it looks very much as if they’ve done it again. Start saving.

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