Passing comment on a person’s choice of car carries significant risk. Unless they have been clever – and wealthy – enough to go for an absolute hero machine, your well-intentioned conversation-starter may not have the intended positive effect.
I know this because unless I am fully focused when somebody reveals their daily drive, I often find myself asking that most heavily loaded of questions: “Why?”
On an innocent level, you are inviting the proud owner to share their automotive enthusiasm. In another way – and let’s face it, invariably what you actually meant – you are inferring that their choice is somewhat chimp-like.
The one genre of car that brings this question to my lips more than any other – and the inspiration for this blog, written because I foolishly expressed my views openly in the office – is the four-seat convertible. With a small number of notable exceptions (true classics, proper old school 4x4s and the Bentley Continental GT) I simply cannot see the attraction of them.
That’s a tad awkward if your boss drives a 2009 M3 Convertible. When Richard brought news of his latest purchase, I was fortunately able to modify my knee-jerk response before opening my mouth.
“Really. That’s an…interesting… choice”
This damning with the faintest of faint praise still said it all. Even people who don’t like M3s acknowledge their abilities. But a convertible? Really? Take a perfectly good, reasonably hardcore saloon/coupe – and lop off the roof.
Let’s consider the negatives – not specific to M3s, but four-seat convertibles per se. This isn’t like a two-seater roadster scenario where the open top model has its own portfolio of strengths that can inform development of a coupe. You can pick one from any of the following downsides: heavier; comprised nvh; more (roof-moving) components to go wrong and – even with a metal rather than fabric roof – almost always less than fully-integrated looks. And despite all of this, more expensive with it!
Now the positives: Hmmmm. Oh yes, ‘fresh air driving/passenger experience’. Anything else? More glamourous? Arguable but possibly. More ‘exhaust note excitement’? Also available with a two-seat roadster. Easier to hoover the cabin area? Absolutely. Further attractions? Sadly, at this point my fingers remain poised over the keyboard…
I’m happy to take criticism from anyone who thinks I am missing the point. Back in the Nineties, any respectable C-segment hatchback had a convertible sibling, so there was a time when I would have been deluged with hate mail. But in 2016, if I were selecting things for the fabled Room 101, four-seat convertibles would be near the top of my list.
I genuinely don’t get it. Buy a regular car with all the metal joined together in the right way and open a window. Or even a sunroof (but don’t get me going on that…)
P.S. The opinions expressed are from a UK perspective. If I was talking about the Chadderton family enjoying a lazy driving holiday down the US west coast, you would find me less opinionated!