For us the hardtop is one of the most important options.
The option with hardtop starts from the HR 43. You might think that the smallest boat in the fleet with Hardtop would be the one with most restrictions. That is not true. I would say only the HR 62 beats the HR 43.
Hardtop provides better shelter in cold environments.
Stress levels are significantly reduced because the Hardtop also gives you an extra barrier against sound from howling winds and breaking seas. As the comfort level is better in rough conditions, we will make fewer mistakes, due to the fact that we are not so exhausted.
We prefer a boat with Hardtop also in tropical places, as it protects from the sun and heat better than a sprayhood. No UV goes thru the hardtop. It is a GRP construction with insulation. With the center window you can regulate the airflow and temperature under the Hardtop.
A bimini will always let some UV and heat thru the fabric. (We also carry a bimini as the hardtop does not cover the helmsman)
You have a better connection for the extension. The combination hardtop and extension gives you an excellent room “upstairs” when in the marina or at anchor in chilly or rainy weather.
You do not have to replace a sprayhood every 3-4 years.
Hardtop provides a good location if you want solar panels.
Design. German Frers did not start with a hardtop. I think most people can agree that a boat without a hardtop has more elegant lines. You could argue that a Hardtop has a more robust, serious look. But……
It is always there and cannot be folded away as a sprayhood. It is easier to move around in the cockpit if the sprayhood is down.
Cost, hardtop does not come cheap.
You lose some visibility, but also gain some. It is very much a question how tall you are and the circumstances.