I’ve never paid more attention to the weather than on the day I proposed to my girlfriend. For starters, the setting was outdoors – at W Singapore’s poolside podium, where the nearest shelter from rain is a 30-second dash away. No Plan B. Second, I’d borrowed a Volkswagen Golf GTI Cabriolet for the occasion. Plan A played out smoothly. It turned out to be a balmy late afternoon, and she said yes (thank you). We drove out of Sentosa Cove with the convertible’s fabric roof down and stereo cranked up, thumping down a tree-lined road and soaking up the Californian cliche.
On days like these, who wouldn’t want a drop-top car as a runabout? After all, modern convertibles are no longer the floppy compromised cousins of the saloon or coupe they’re based on. They are practically just as good as their hatchbacks siblings, with the option to drive alfresco if the mood takes you. And yet, scarcely a few dozen convertibles grace our roads, which is a crying shame.
IT’S FOR THE SUN-SEEKERS
Granted, there are many reasons people don’t buy convertibles in Singapore: the weather’s too hot; the car’s too impractical; the douche from your school days now drives one; you’re over the age of 27; traffic fumes are bad for health; accidents are more likely to be fatal; when it rains, it pours; and unless you get your hands on the brilliant Mazda MX5, convertibles currently on sale are most likely expensive European models. Still, you’re more likely to encounter a breezy, cloudless day than an empty open road in Singapore. Then you can set the folding roof on its course, cue a fast beat (or classical music, if that’s your thing) on the stereo, and enjoy the openair experience. This keeps driving fun when tolerating our highways’ sedate speed limits or the restless 50km/h restrictions in Sentosa. There’s nothing quite like feeling the rush of speed in your face or hair. The caveat: Your girl will probably not appreciate you throwing her blow-dried hair to the wind.
YOU’LL GET MORE HEADSPACE
Sometimes, there’s nothing better for an overworked mind than to take a long drive by yourself. And an open-top connects you to road and nature like no other car. It helps clear your mind, like any good drive should. Blind spots disappear once you drop the roof. Buying a table from Ikea? Unlimited headroom thanks to a retractable roof saves you on delivery costs. Ridiculous small-cars-only lots like those at Shaw Centre? A convertible gives you more entry/exit options if you dare park you car with the top down.
ALL CONVERTIBLES LOOK COOL
Think about it: The plain fact that not many of them are on the roads makes your ride stand out – whether it’s the handsome, understated Audi A3 Cabriolet or the cool, shouty Porsche Carrera Cabriolet. Like hot hatchbacks and sports coupes, most (if not all) convertibles look like fun. They conjure up images of driving around with a group of friends on an open road under a blazing, cloudless sky… By the time I’d contemplated these points, we’d only just reached the Sentosa bridge, and – you guessed it, didn’t you? – storm clouds were quickly making our balmy postproposal evening history.
I panicked. It takes the Cabriolet – at a max speed of 30km/h – nine seconds to put the roof back on. Its leather seats and our iPhones may not survive that long in a downpour. Fortunately, we hit heavy traffic, and I quickly summoned the soft top back on, right before the heavens rained on our parade. If there’s one thing convertible owners do more than other drivers, it’s to check the weather.