Convertibles Sales Plunge Tied To Economy & Aging Population

As sunny summer gives way to the autumn chill, real convertible fans swear it’s the best time to go for a top-down spin.

Based on sales figures, the sun may be setting for convertibles altogether. In 2004 top-down models comprised 5 percent of the total US car market, down to just 1.2 percent this year. And the trend is international, with convertible sales off 44 percent worldwide in the past decade.

Convertible popularity has often been associated with economic downturns as buyers opt for practicality. In the economic malaise of the late 1970’s convertibles became all but extinct, and then roared back to the highest popularity ever in the 80’s and 90’s.

In addition to the economy, the boomers who embraced the carefree convertible lifestyle are now aging, while younger buyers prefer SUVs with an expansive glass sunroof.

And yet recent test-drives of the exciting new BMW 428i convertible and the performance value packed Nissan Z Roadster not only reaffirmed the inherent appeal of convertibles but really showcased how far they have come with one-touch convertible hardtops and performance and safety oriented engineering and construction.


2014 Nissan Z 370 Roadster Tour Edition

This sexy convertible is one of a thinning breed rear-wheel drive action top down sports cars.

Though lightweight enough to maximize the power of its 3.7 liter V6 pumping 332 horsepower, and 7-speed auto paddle shift transmission, the Z is stiff and has a solid feel on the road and feels agile enough for serious competitive driving! And the Nissan vented front and rear sport brake system assures clean stopping power.

With a one-touch 20-second retractable fabric roof and a snug two-person cockpit, this roadster is really very pretty with the top up or down, thanks to the subtly sensuous lines, folds and scoops in the body design.

Inside the sporting design is carried through in heated and cool ventilated leather trimmed sport seats, brushed aluminum trim accents and the three bay gauge cluster and three spoke sport steering wheel.

For modern amenities the Bose 8-speaker audio system, Bluetooth hands free Phone link, hard-drive based Nav system bring the Z right up to date.

Though fuel economy is not at the top of the Z Roadster’s priority list this version of the popular Nissan V6 delivers respectable 18 city and 25 highway mpg stats.

Special Convertible Tour Edition fully equipped tops out at $51,365 starting at a base of about $30,0000.


2014 BMW 428i Convertible:

The creation of the BMW 4 Series by adopting the coupe and convertible models and leaving the 3 Series line-up with the sedans and wagons caused a lot of controversy. But it was a strategic move because it turned an tech and styling update into a new model intro which is a good sales tactic.

No matter how you read the numeric nomenclature the new BMW 428i is a beautifully executed vehicle and more civilized approach to the “ultimate driving machine” benchmark. The lower roofline and pronounced muscular character lines from every view give the new 4 Series a fresh new look. With the top down — after a 20 second one-touch retractable hardtop ballet — even macho BMW fans will have to admit, the 428i convertible is a delicately pretty car.

But sultry good looks are just part of the BMW 428i story and possibly a diversionary maneuver when you cut loose the full fury of its 2.0 liter twin turbo 240 horsepower 4 cylinder plant. This elegant convertible sets fire to the pavement in the straightaways and then shreds through the most challenging twisting and turning track conditions with supreme confidence and aplomb.

A full complement of electronic aids including stability control, brake fade compensation, start-off assist and dynamic traction control, add to the precision engineered BMW platform and suspension design, making this ride both a traditional convertible romp and the epitome of high tech command an control.

With a base price of about $48,000 he fully equipped 428i convertible rolls in at just $62,000, with better than average fuel economy ratings of 23 city and 34 highway mpg.