By on September 26, 2017

2004 Mazda MX-5 Miata GT - Image: © Timothy CainMrs. Cain is taking the littlest boy to a baby shower. I’ve got the older boy, a car-loving three-year-old who’s been pleading for a trip to the ice cream barn for days.

I take the car seat out of our Honda Odyssey and am presented with a choice. For roughly 40 minutes of evening driving from Margate to Schurmans Point, around Summerside, and back home, do we take the 2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Coupe with its massaging seats and Burmester audio? Or do we opt for our 2004 Mazda MX-5 Miata? It’s fall in Canada, but the heat wave experienced by much of the continent has presented us with a lovely day. Granted, the evening temperature is fast falling, and the boy has a runny nose.

It’s snot a difficult choice to make. The roof goes down, his window stays up, the heater cranks up, the garage door goes down, and we’re off for a father-son bonding session in the best car in the world. (Read More…)

By on September 20, 2017

2018 Buick Cascada Rioja Malbec - Image: General MotorsBy the standards of niche market convertibles, the Buick Cascada is, or at least was, a certifiable hit.

Sales of the Cascada have tumbled by a fifth in 2017, year-over-year. More recently, Cascada sales fell by nearly 40 percent during the height of the summer. But since going on sale at the beginning of 2016, more than 11,000 Buick Cascadas have been sold in the United States. At times, the Buick has even outsold Mazda’s MX-5 Miata. And no, before you draw an entirely incorrect conclusion, hardly any Cascadas have gone into the daily rental mix. More than 99 percent of the Buick Cascadas sold in America were retail acquisitions.

But for its third model year, Buick feels it’s time to spice things up. The Cascada, historically available in very few shades, is getting new paint options for the 2018 model year. Why?

“Color is back,” Buick’s Catherine Black says.  (Read More…)

By on September 12, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet - Image: VWIf it’s not Obama’s fault, then it’s probably Brexit’s.

Volkswagen’s sixth-generation Golf is destined to mark the end of the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet run. The Mk7 Golf didn’t spawn a droptop variant and the United Kingdom’s shrinking car market has reportedly caused Volkswagen to cease development of the eighth-generation Golf’s cabriolet.

Of course, Volkswagen hasn’t sold a topless Golf in the United States since the 2002 model year, when an Mk3 Golf essentially wore the Mk4 Golf’s face. That’s a 15-year gap for topdown Golf motoring, a timespan which saw Golf Cabriolets disappear in other markets, as well. But five years after launching the Volkswagen Eos — a Golf-related convertible with a power retractable hardtop — Volkswagen brought the Golf Cabriolet back from the grave for the Mk6 generation. There was even a GTI.

With the Eos’s death, it appeared likely that the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet would be redeveloped yet again. But with a soft UK car market — a bizarrely convertible-hungry market, by the by — since Britons voted to sever ties with the European Union, Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess told Autocar, “We wanted to do a convertible now, but with the relatively weak UK market and the uncertainty about what will happen, we had to think against it.”

So, Beetle Convertible it is. (Read More…)

By on August 31, 2017

Image: 1990 BMW Z1, image via seller

Though not the first BMW-powered vehicle in our Rare Rides series, and not the first with two doors, it is the first BMW convertible we’ve seen here. And the two aforementioned doors on this little convertible have One Simple Trick up their sleeve — disappearing into the body of the car. It’s the kind of detail you’d only expect on some crazy old Citroën.

But that’s not the only unique aspect of the Z1. Want to learn something?

(Read More…)

By on August 28, 2017

Image: 1985 ASC McLaren Capri Convertible, image via seller

Last time on Rare Rides we featured a V8-powered American muscle car that started out as a coupe and had the roof removed by an aftermarket company. Opinions of the Callaway Speedster were mixed, ranging from “meh” to “1990s meh.” So for this Rare Rides entry, we are doing something completely different following the exact same formula, executed in a different way.

It’s a very special Mercury, at a much lower price point. McLaren anyone?

(Read More…)

By on August 5, 2017

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Lusso - Image: FCAJuly 2017 was the first month in which we could ascertain the year-over-year U.S. sales direction of the one-year-old Fiat 124 Spider.

That direction is down.

In fact, the rate of year-over-year decline — 124 Spider sales fell only 6 percent in a passenger car market that was down 15 percent — was by no means severe. But it’s yet another sign that when American roadster buyers want a Mazda Miata, they buy a Mazda Miata. (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2017

2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet - Image: © Timothy CainTo be very honest with you, those of us who track traffic and take the odd look at analytics already know the TTAC audience for a review of the 2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet is small.

At first glance, it doesn’t make sense. Reviews are the most reliable source of traffic on The Truth About Cars.

The TTAC audience, the B&B, is a pragmatic bunch of car enthusiasts, however. A sensible group of auto industry intellects. $72,305 German convertibles? Not exactly right up the alley of the proverbial 2004 Honda Accord.

And with good reason. Sensible pragmatists don’t see the point in the incremental performance upgrade of a $162,850 Porsche 911 Turbo from an $80,490 Chevrolet Corvette Z06; the off-road credentials of a $52,275 Lexus GX460 over and above a $35,930 Toyota 4Runner; the scant luxurious advantages of a $58,050 BMW X5 in contrast to a $47,140 Kia Sorento SX Limited.

But what if the four-seat, twin-turbo, all-wheel-drive, German convertible was actually worth 83 percent more than the basic C-Class; 43 percent more than a basic C-Class Cabriolet?

Then, maybe, TTAC could actually find an audience for a review of an expensive car. (Read More…)

By on June 28, 2017

2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet - Image: © Timothy Cain250 years ago, in Prince Edward Island’s 1767 land lottery of 64 parcels, Lot 20 was scooped up by Theodore Houltain and Thomas Basset.

Encompassing the communities of Malpeque Bay, Clinton, French River, Park Corner, Sea View, and other hamlets, and possessing fewer than 1,000 people, Lot 20 is a gem along the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It’s a gem I thought I knew well, at least until I took possession of our new family home earlier this week. Last night, with my friend Jeff The HR Manager operating as a tour guide, we traversed virtually every road on Lot 20 in the company of a 2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet.

We reached antisocial speeds, as AMGs are prone to do. We consumed fuel, as twin-turbo V6s are inclined to do. We made inappropriate noises, as Mercedes-Benz’s Dynamic Select Sport+ mode (with the Performance Exhaust System’s button also depressed) is wont to do.

And we made friends, as convertibles have always and will forever do. (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2017

718 boxster S

A segment of the automotive enthusiast community holds a real prejudice against convertibles. While the majority of the ire stems from an irrational bitterness or assumption that any car that sacrifices any amount body stiffness for style is inherently wrong, there is one valid complaint: most convertibles are less safe in a crash than a hardtop.

With that in mind, Porsche has patented an airbag concealed within the A-pillar specifically designed to protect soft-top occupants in the event that the windshield frame bends toward their fragile skulls during an accident — a handy feature for a vehicle lacking roof support. However, there is no reason the system couldn’t also be implemented in vehicles with a rigid ceiling.  (Read More…)

By on March 20, 2017

2017 BMW 4 Series Convertible – Image: BMW

Choice is good for car buyers. But in the never-ending quest to produce incremental volume gains, the planet’s largest premium auto brands agree that certain niches are quickly becoming untenable.

Known for questioning in 2014 whether the global sports car market would ever recover from its post-recession collapse, BMW sales boss Ian Robertson told Car And Driver earlier this month that “some body styles will be removed in the future.”

Meanwhile, the head of Mercedes-Benz Dieter Zetsche said at the Geneva auto show that the lack of Chinese uptake for specialty cars “makes the business case for these vehicles less easy.”

Yet long before a model cull returns us to the days of tidy luxury lineups — 3 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series, and 8 Series as the 1990s intended! — premium German marques will first introduce a slew of new models. And the body styles destined for removal? Likely not the silly four-door coupes and impractical SUVs you love to hate. (Read More…)

By on January 27, 2017

Aston Martin Vanquish Volante S

Even though the DB11 highlights a marked transformation for Aston Martin, there are still a few sexy dinosaurs milling around its factory floors. The Vanquish is one of those dinosaurs and, last November, Aston debuted a 580 horsepower S coupe to keep it from supplicating for its own extinction. This month, the British automaker hacked off its roof to bestow unto us the Vanquish Volante S.

Unless your supercar is completely ridiculous-looking — and Aston’s tasteful examples typically are not — converting one into a droptop is a straightforward way to ruin its grandeur. Fortunately, Aston Martin has a decent track record with convertibles, thanks in no small part to bulging rear fenders and abundance of inoffensive style.  (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2017

ford-mustang-gt-convertible-ingot-silver

Okay, it certainly wasn’t hard to imagine the upcoming 2018 Mustang sans roof, but here it is.

No, there’s no retractable hardtop or innovative Mazda MX-3-esque retractable fastback to be found on the upcoming convertible, as that might be a little too high-minded for the Blue Oval. As well, lower price points are a pony car tradition. (Read More…)

By on January 4, 2017

Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet 2012

Convertible sales have slid steadily for a while now and “everyday” droptops like the difficult to praise Chrysler Sebring have vanished from the automotive market. With the exception of a few premium options from Germany, fun in the sun doesn’t seem to coincide with daily driving anymore.

With their sales volume now trumped even by impractical, short-ranged electric vehicles, lidless cars are less popular than ever. In fact, America’s most popular convertible isn’t even a car (Jeep Wangler), and today’s remaining open-air options are either performance focused, comically small, or extremely expensive European luxury items. That’s likely to remain the case for some time, considering it took us over a decade to get here.  (Read More…)

By on November 22, 2016

2015 Kawasaki ZX-14R, Image: © 2016 Jack Baruth/The Truth About Cars

For the time being, we can still call it “Indian Summer.” Maybe not for much longer — my alma mater, Miami University, bent the knee to social-justice pressure on this issue a few years ago. We had been the Miami Redskins, but after a prolonged siege by the forces of manufactured outrage the university agreed to change us to the Miami Redhawks. It is worth noting that the Chief of the Miami Tribe in no way objected to the old logo or name; he thought it was used in a reasonable and dignified manner. But when faced between the choice of respecting the opinion of an actual Native American or listening to the incoherent babble of their own privileged white-girl hearts, Miami’s students of course chose the latter.

I kind of like the bird they chose — it looks angry, although to my mind it is not distinct enough from the Bowling Green Falcon, and that’s a shame because BG is an emphatically third-rate university and Miami is only second-rate. Angry is good. It’s easy to picture such a red hawk flying above the muted palette of the Ohio late fall forest, two-lane roads with orange and red leaves disconnected from stems by a killing morning frost then resurrected in impromptu whirling whorls set to spinning above the tarmac by the Vettes and ‘vertibles of all sorts, the lumbering Harleys and white-trash sportbikes and adventure-cuck bikes taking brief but permitted nonsense trips to nowhere. We can get these magical weekends every once in awhile, right at the end of the season, and this past Saturday was the perfect example — 76 degrees and a panoply parade of pleasure vehicles out for the last sorties of the year.

Now it’s 28 and I’m the only bike on the road to work this morning, flash-frozen on the freeway, every joint hurting and the tires chilled to a sort of bitter truce with the road surface, chittering at the hint of a lean.

(Read More…)

By on November 16, 2016

2017 Buick Cascada - Image: BuickFront-wheel-drive, soft top, four-cylinder engine, hefty curb weight— the ideal car for the Enterprise Rent-A-Car lot at Miami International Airport?

Not so.

On sale since January, the Buick Cascada has attracted 6,154 individual U.S. buyers over the last ten months.

According to Buick, General Motors has only seen three Cascadas make their way into fleet use, for a total of 6,157 Cascada sales through the end of October. (Read More…)

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