Hardtop vs. soft-top

Hardtop Convertible or Soft-top Convertible? Pros and Cons

Looking at a hardtop convertible, but not sure if a soft-top might be a better choice?

It’s not always easy to know which type of convertible design is the best fit for your particular needs, which is why we’ve put together this quick guide to help you figure out where your priorities are in an open-air car.

All-Weather Comfort

Perhaps the single biggest advantage that a hardtop convertible (or even a targa top) has over a traditional soft-top design is the extra insulation that it offers during colder, wetter weather. With a full steel roof over your head, combined with the additional padding of the headliner, you’re much less likely to experience winter’s chill in a hardtop design.

Coupe-like Styling

Another factor working in favor of a hardtop convertible is the fact that its retractable metal roof gives it a look that’s much closer to a coupe when closed, as compared to a fabric roof. A hardtop’s lines are often less awkward when driving with the roof up.

More Security

ConvertibleA fabric roof essentially provides no real security to your convertible’s cabin — anyone with a knife and a bit of time on their hands can cut their way in, grab whatever’s inside the car or even try to steal the vehicle itself. A hardtop convertible or a targa top gives you peace of mind when parking in unfamiliar areas and also offers better crash protection in an accident.

Heavier Design

It’s not all positives when discussing hardtop convertibles. The extra weight and complexity of the mechanism that retracts the roof, combined with the mass of the steel itself, adds significant weight to a hardtop design as compared to a soft-top, which can reduce the performance of the car in question.

Less Cargo Space

That same mechanism takes up considerable room in the trunk — or just in front of it — which often means that hardtop convertible and targa top cars offer less cargo storage than their soft-top cousins. If you plan to take longer trips in your vehicle, then this becomes a fairly important consideration.

Fewer Choices

There simply aren’t as many hardtop convertibles on the market as there are fabric-roof models, and most hail from luxury brands that charge you a premium to get behind the wheel. Make sure your budget is robust enough to handle hardtop pricing before you commit to the idea of a retractable steel roof.

Both convertible types have their own unique set of benefits and drawbacks, so take time to discover which roof makes the most sense for you.

Check out all the Body & Accessory products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on the benefits of hardtop convertibles, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.

about author

Benjamin Hunting

Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time.  I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

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