Jeremy and Michael: I want to treat myself to a sporty second car, as I’ve had a rough time over the last year fighting breast cancer, and I want to fulfill a lifelong dream of owning a convertible. I had been eyeing the BMW 135, as I like its small size and sporty features. However, I’m also wondering about a good old-fashioned muscle car like the Dodge Charger or Mustang. I’m a petite woman so I don’t want anything too big. The only other criterion is it has to have a back seat, as I have a four-year-old son who is with me all the time. My plan is to lease this car and my budget is $800-$1,000/month. – Janet in Mississauga
Vaughan: Great idea, Janet – convertibles are the best. I’ve always had an open-top car. It’s entirely different to drive in the open air – the view, the sounds, the sun, the smells. Well, that part’s not always great down by Ashbridges Bay. However, I’m sure you’ll love it.
Cato: For a moment there, Vaughan, I thought you’d discovered your poet’s soul. Then the wisecrack. Ugh.
Janet, live the dream in the knowledge that you’ll do so within your budget. But I want you to save a few bucks and consider BMW’s 2013 128i. If you can find one.
The 128 lists for $41,400 and it’s plenty of car – 230-horsepower inline six-cylinder, nifty handling, power top, tight steering, strong brakes. The $48,700 135 convertible is certainly more powerful – 300-hp turbocharged six – but you’ll never use all that muscle.
Vaughan: The 1-Series – or whatever they call it now – is a terrific car.
Cato: Ah, you are referring to BMW’s name-changing strategy. Going forward, the 1-Series becomes the 2-Series. At BMW, coupes and convertibles will get even numbers – 2-Series, for example – while sedans get odd numbers, such as the 3-Series sedan.
Vaughan: You’re confusing me and everyone else, Cato. What we know, what is absolutely clear, is that the 1-Series drives beautifully. Everything’s tight, responsive and smooth.
However, it’s expensive and if you add a few options, the price goes way up: leather seats, $1,900; navi, $2,000; premium audio, $1,200; park control, $450. You’ll be north of fifty thou in no time.
Cato: Janet, you’ll need to do some wheeling and dealing. A three-year lease with BMW, at 2.9 per cent, will run you $694 a month, with no money down on a car with a $19,044 residual. In other words, BMW says the car will lose about half its value in three years.
When you’re doing the deal, make sure to tell the dealer you will not be paying that $595 admin fee, not on top of the $2,095 for freight and prep. Really, $595 for shuffling paper? Are you kidding. And, as Vaughan says, rein in any urge to tick off options.
Vaughan: Janet, now we’re getting to something good – Mustang. For the dough, you can’t beat it.
But if you want a ‘Stang, then you must wait for the new one. The 2015 convertible that debuted at the Detroit auto show is superb. One of my old rag-tops was a 5.0-litre V-8 and the new one certainly resembles it – just so much more refined, almost sculptural. An instant classic and you’ll get it for thousands less than the worthy BMW.
Cato: We think. Ford hasn’t named a price for the new Mustang, but the 2014 starts at $32,499, minus lots of discounts. The next-gen Mustang is delicious, but you will get a killer deal on the 2014.
Now, you mentioned the Charger, which is a sedan, Janet. So that’s out. The Dodge Challenger is a coupe, so that’s not in the cards, either. Which brings me to the Chevrolet Camaro convertible, which I like, but which I believe is too much muscle car for you.
So where does that leave us? The Infiniti Q60 convertible. This one used to be the G37 convertible. Like BMW, Infiniti is juggling names and making all of us nuts. Marketing people need something to do, right? Anyway, the $58,400 price tag is high, but this is a superb convertible. Just beautiful in and out.
Vaughan: Infiniti is putting out some great cars and Cato’s favourite is a beauty. But it’s out of your price range. You’re talking about a second car – not a second mortgage.
The new Mustang rag-top is the answer. You’ll end up like me – if it’s not raining, the roof is down.
Cato: Remember this, Janet: nobody buys a convertible in January. Reward yourself, but grind out a good deal – and tell the dealer to bag those admin fees or you’ll walk.
Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.
HOW THEY COMPARE
2013 BMW 128i Cabriolet
2014 Infiniti Q60 Sport Convertible
2014 Ford Mustang Premium V-6 Convertible
Curb weight (kg)
Fuel economy (litres/100 km)
10.9 city/7.1 highway
12.1 city/7.8 highway
11.2 city/6.8 highway
Source: car manufacturers
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