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On a fine summer's day, rolling down the windows might not be enough for you to bask in the sunshine and breeze. With a convertible, you'll have the option of enjoying the warm weather when you want to. Plus, you'll do so in style too.
Read on to learn about this stylish and versatile vehicle type, including what to know when purchasing one and which are the popular models on offer from the various Japanese automobile manufacturers.
Why Buy a Convertible?
As you probably know, convertibles are cars with a retractable roof so that you can drive with or without a roof. This roof could be either a soft (made of fabric) or a hard top. The soft fabric or hardtop roof would need to be manually detached, folded, and stowed away in most older convertibles. These have since made way for automatic soft and hardtop roofs that retract by pressing a button.
This defining trait of the convertible gives you the freedom to choose between enjoying the open air or driving in the security of an enclosed saloon. For taller drivers and taller passengers, this also means the option for a comfier ride with more head clearance. With the roof down, you'll also get a greater field of vision of your surroundings and those envious onlookers staring at your eye-catching convertible.
What to Consider When Buying a Convertible
If you're even considering purchasing a convertible, ample seating area will likely be low on your list of priorities. Convertibles typically come in two or four doors with just one or two rows of seats.
Cargo / Trunk Capacity
The same restrictions apply to cargo space. Convertibles don't pride themselves on their trunk volume. After all, the aim is to only cruise around with people, not with lots of cargo. In some models, when the roof is retracted and folded away, there will be even less space for whatever items you might have.
Engine and Fuel Efficiency
Four-cylinder engines are the standard for convertibles, although, in sportier models which offer greater performance, manufacturers offer six, and even eight-cylinder engines. With more governments worldwide trying to reduce car emissions, manufacturers now offer even greater fuel efficiency with hybrid powertrains options, not only the standard petrol and diesel convertibles.
Most convertibles have standard safety features like ABS, EBD, and airbags. Although convertibles generally range at a higher price point, you'll also find that many come with more advanced safety devices like blind spot warning, forward collision warning, and lane-keep assist.
Best Japanese Convertibles
The Toyota MR-S is a midship (engine in the middle) convertible that's fun to drive, especially since it has an excellent fuel economy at 33.4 mpg. Its midship layout with a long wheelbase gives it superior handling. Coupled with its light weight of 960 kg and short front and rear overhangs, the MR-S can achieve responsive steering. It comes powered by a high-performance 1.8L BEAMS (Breakthrough Engine with Advanced Mechanism System) 1ZZ-FE VVTi engine capable of 138 hp.
Toyota's Soarer is its luxury grand tourer from 1981 to 2005, developed under the theme of "concentrating on the world's latest technologies." While these innovations, such as the digital speed tachometer and GPS automotive navigation system via CD-ROM, are now outdated, the Soarer remains a classy and high-performing option with its good looks and powerful engines such as the 4.3L V8 VVTi in the 2001 model year.
Even if you're not a car enthusiast, you'll know the Nissan Fairlady Z. After all, it has been the world's best-selling sports car since its debut in 1969. It comes as either a hardtop coupe or an open-top convertible roadster. The most recent edition of the Fairlady Z, the Z34, is shorter and wider and adopts a front midship layout, shifting its 3.7L VVEL V6 six-cylinder engine to the center.
The two C's stand for "coupe" and "convertible," though one could also stand for "cute." The Nissan Micra C+C is a fun convertible coupe that uses the chassis of the Micra supermini car. Its short, round body features a 2+2 seating layout and gets an electric folding glass roof made by Karmann coachworks.
The S2000 is Honda's genuine open-top sports car and a modern classic. It was in production for over a decade between 1999 to 2009, and during this time, the S2000 roadster earned a reputation for its exceptional output and value. The last two model years (2008 and 2009) get the Type S trim and a special body kit featuring an aluminum shift knob and suspension tuning.
Good things also come in small packages at Honda. They present the S660 mid-engined two-seater with a Targa top over the front seats that is also removable. Though it fits into the kei-class of vehicles in Japan, the S660 doesn't lack horsepower with its 660cc S07A inline three-cylinder turbocharged engine.
Inspired by the Lotus Elan, the lightweight two-seater Mazda Roadster evokes memories of Italian and British roadster sports cars of the 1950s and '60s. The Roadster is the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car in history, with recent versions continuing to rack up car awards for its ease of driving, performance, and stylish design.
The Eclipse Spyder is the convertible version of the sporty Mitsubishi Eclipse. Its engines range from 2.0L inline four-cylinders to a 3.8L V6 six-cylinder that delivers a performance worthy of its sleek and elegant design.
The Daihatsu Copen is an adorable Kei 2-door convertible roadster. Its bubbly and round body houses a reliable 660cc inline three-cylinder turbocharged engine. These, combined with a folding metal roof, air-con, electric windows, and an affordable price tag, make the Copen a great value-for-money buy.
The fun-sized Suzuki Cappuccino is a 2-door 2-seater roadster with a detachable hardtop. When you buy a Cappuccino, you'll get four cars in one. Its three removable roof panels allow it to become a closed coupe, Targa top coupe, T-top, or full convertible.
Affordable luxury is the name of the game with Lexus's entry luxury sports compact executive, the "Intelligent Sports" IS. The IS 250 C and 350 C are the convertible versions of the IS that get a 2.5L and a 3.5L V6 six-cylinder, respectively. These convertibles are available only for the second generation of this model.
Experience luxurious performance in Lexus's grand tourer, the SC, produced from 1991 to 2010. Second-generation SCs (2001 onwards) feature a design defined by its compact cabin, flowing surfaces, and tight lower body. On the inside, luxurious materials like leather, brushed aluminum, and highly polished bird's eye maple and walnut burl woods adorn the SC.
Where to Get the Best Deals on Convertibles from Japan
Used Japanese convertibles can be found at various Japanese automobile exporters like BE FORWARD. With us, you can be sure you'll get a great deal on a well-maintained Japanese convertible. Shop our selection now!
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