Here’s why you must own a convertible.
It was the second weekend in May 2016 and my weekend wheels had awoken from its winter slumber just a few days earlier.
My girlfriend and I had a real hankering for the Lake District and were hanging on until last minute to see what the weather was going to do with itself. After repeatedly refreshing the BBC weather page on our smartphones, we decided to just take the risk as it looked like the sun would burn through the cloud around midday. We were right. It did.
As we got nearer to the Lake District, I lowered the roof at the Penrith roundabout while we were held at the traffic lights. By the time we were approaching Ullswater, the clouds had completely dispersed and the sun was blaring down on us. It felt Mediterranean.
The keen drivers among you will know the Lake District is home to some of the most fabulous driving roads in the UK and we had the perfect car, too. My favourite roads are the A591, the passage between Windemere and Keswick (which at time of writing is still closed, after having been battered by severe winter storms) and the A592, which runs from Penrith, by Ullswater and leading onto the Kirkstone Pass. The trip turned out to be one of the best days of this year so far; a nice relief after a few weeks of intense pressure in other areas of life.
On the right day, there’s nothing better than driving a convertible through the English countryside. It depends how far you want to buy into the driving experience of course, but for me, it has to be a sports car.
What defines a sports car? Well, there are several different opinions on this matter, but I would say something with at least 150bhp, (which is enough to feel fast in relativity) a strong set of brakes, a relatively short wheel base (for agility) and a great engine tone. I will add that I don’t believe a sports car has to be rear wheel drive, because you just adapt your driving style to suit. My Z3 is rear wheel drive however, and has a superb engine tone, especially over the last 250rpm, before the rev-limiter kicks in at 6,250rpm. The BMW M54 straight-six fizzes and howls with mechanical energy and on the overrun with a trailing throttle, the exhaust woofles snap, crackle and pop, which sounds superb; childish, but so good – to the point where even SWMBO gasps and chuckles. I digress.
The beauty of convertibles is best experienced on a day like this, where you can be comfortably exposed to the fresh air. Hearing the birds tweet and feeling the warm breeze ruffle your hair and watching mountains zoom in and tower above you as you get closer, is phenomenal. The experience engages your senses (including taste if you have a drink because it is so hot) and in an analogue sports car like the BMW Z3, the experience at the steering wheel is equally as enjoyable. By analogue, I mean the controls are hydraulically operated, as opposed to electrically assisted. The hydraulic systems controlling the steering rack are hard to beat for precision and accuracy, though I must say, the latest new cars are starting to get the feel for it (no pun intended). The confidence that you are given manifests itself via a slick oily motion as your pour the front axle into a corner and the steering wheel wriggles in your finger tips over rougher surfaces, letting you know you are in control.
It may be hard for you to justify investing in a convertible due to the weather we get in the UK, but I promise you if you even just try one on a day like this, you will find yourself owning one.