It may seem counterintuitive, but autumn and winter are the best seasons to drive around in a convertible in South Africa.
The exceptional climate should be taken advantage of while driving and a convertible is an excellent way to do this.
Unfortunately, the criminal element has kept a firm lid on the popularity of convertibles in recent years – while the deteriorating state of our roads has meant that bakkies and small SUVs are the new “lifestyle” cars of choice.
Still, there is an excellent range of cars with no roof which can be bought locally – as listed below.
The Affordable Option – Mini Cooper Convertible
- Price – R537,692
The days of truly affordable ragtops are gone.
The Mini Cooper Convertible, however, has been one of the most popular drop-tops since its introduction nearly two decades ago and is the cheapest on this list.
It will seat four people in the same kind of comfort as a regular Mini Cooper – slightly cramped, but not uncomfortably so.
The boot practicality suffers as a result of the design, but overall it’s still a good car and holds its value reasonably well.
You can also choose from the 100kW 1.5 turbo model or the 141kW 2.0-litre turbo Cooper S variant.
The Stylish 4-Seater – BMW 420i Convertible
- Price – R957,466
I never thought I would see the day when a 2.0-litre BMW which costs nearly R1,000,000 was the cheapest full-sized, four-seater convertible on offer – but here we are.
Look past the gaping maw, you get the country’s newest convertible with a 135kW, four-cylinder engine and all the tech and toys that BMW is renowned for.
An options list as long as your arm will make it truly unique, if desired.
It’s also reverted to a soft top and as with most BMWs, the joy is in the drive.
The Iconic Muscle – Ford Mustang 2.3 Ecoboost Convertible
- Price – R928,800
Most people think you need to go for the 5.0-litre model, but the power delivery of the 2.3-litre turbo is the sweet spot for the Mustang – especially the convertible, which is unlikely to be stretched to its handling limits.
Sure the V8 burble is gone, but at speed with the sun setting and the ocean to your left, the 5.0-litre is insignificant in the greater scheme of things.
The Mustang is popular in South Africa and will likely be for years to come, so it may not suffer the meteoric depreciation that other high-end convertibles do.
The Roadster – Jaguar F-Type P300 R-Dynamic
- Price – R1,290,600
There was a time when roadsters were the default convertibles.
Today, one of the finest-looking roadsters is the Jaguar F-Type R-Dynamic, which competes against the likes of the BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster.
The P300 packs a turbocharged, four-cylinder, but Jaguar has managed to still make it bark like its six-cylinder sibling.
It will rocket to 100km/h, top down, in under 6 seconds thanks to 221kW of power from its engine.
Additionally, it’s just been updated with a new front-end. This has made it more striking.
The Luxury Ride – Mercedes-Benz E-Class E200 Cabriolet
- Price: R1,164,000
Mercedes-Benz still has a good portfolio of convertibles on offer, starting with the C-Class Cabriolet through to the maniacal AMG GT drop-top.
Its E-Class Cabriolet is then one of the more popular, large cabriolets for cruising around town.
It has many pioneering technologies like the AI navigation, MBUX voice control for virtually anything inside of the car, an Aircap to divert air up and over the passenger compartment, and an Airscarf to keep your neck warm on colder evenings.
And like every convertible nowadays, the E-Class Cabriolet has a luxurious, soundproof fabric folding top.
The Unorthodox Pick – Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4-Door
- Price: R919,719
It’s the cheapest full-sized, four-seater with a removable top available in South Africa and sports a robust 3.6-litre, V6 with 209kW and 247Nm.
South Africans love the outdoors – or at least living the “outdoor life” – even if it means parking on the pavement at the local eatery on the weekend.
There’s no electric hood here and you will need to find a place to stow the roof, but drivers of Jeeps love the fact that they’re able to ditch the hardtop and cruise down to the beach.
There’s also a manual canvas top for when the sun gets too much, while the hardcore off-roaders have a veritable plethora of aftermarket options on offer.