Imagine the scene: the sun is out, the weather is warm and a twisty road opens up in front of you. This is the opportunity to enjoy your drive in a way in which you seldom get the chance. What could make it better? Of course, the ability to remove the roof and let a cool summer breeze in.
Convertibles come in all shapes and sizes, and you can choose a long-legged cruiser, a high-performer or a fashion trinket. The common theme will be the ability of retracting back the roof and letting in the glorious weather.
To make our list of the best, though, a convertible needs to offer security and comfort when the weather turns sour, as well as proper usability. So which are the best of them?
Our cabrio class champ is a car that perfectly typifies why convertibles and sports cars are typically quite different things. The Audi TT has, since birth, played the classy, stylish, usable, extra-special everyday driver better than the out-and-out driver's car; and it continues to now even in convertible form. Keen drivers might find the Roadster a little too easy and unchallenging to drive, but it's that undemanding ease of use that makes the car appeal to those who only want a dash of seasoning with their choice of wheels.
The Audi’s fluid handling and zesty petrol TFSI motor make it fast enough and reasonable fun when you want it to be, even in entry-level form. The engine range kicks off with a 194bhp 2.0-litre option but ranges upwards to include 242-, 302- (TT S) and 394bhp (TT RS) choices. The entry-level engine can be had with front-wheel drive, while the rest are 'quattro' all-paw only.
Mercedes' cars are seldom at their best when targeting driver appeal; that's why it took an out-of-house performance department like AMG (now brought in-house, of course) to really inject some dynamism into its offerings. That fact also makes Mercedes' cruiser cabriolets well-equipped to do well in this chart, and they are, by and large, machines of a mature, secure, self-possessed and luxurious charm which are great at enriching a roof-down journey without necessarily enticing you to breakneck speeds.
The Mercedes-Maybach S 650 is based on the open-top S-Class and has adopted the latter’s classic aesthetic proportions, among other features, with highlights which include the dynamic silhouette with coupé-like soft top and the sidewall dropping line which slopes down towards the rear.
The high-end appointments in the interior make up part of the vehicle’s special characteristics. The drive system requirements are catered for by the 6.0-litre V12 engine with an output of 463 kW (630 PS).
This Lexus LC Convertible is dripping in esoteric concept-car design appeal, with a superbly inviting luxury interior and a 457bhp atmospheric V8 engine.
If you want a luxury, two-seater cruiser, you'll find an awful lot to like here. The LC is now a more refined car than it was when launched in 2017, having had its runflat tyres traded for better rubber and its suspension retuned for a more supple ride and more poised handling. Unlike in the coupe version, you can't get the LC's 3.5-litre V6 hybrid powertrain here; nor the car's optional four-wheel steering.
But the LC Convertible handles quite neatly for such a heavy car in any case. It's a better in rich, laid-back cruising mode than when driven like a sports car, when the car's superficially direct steering and its woolly-feeling brake pedal stand in the way of top-level driver reward. But still it's a car that it's easy to enjoy at just the right pace.
A car like the BMW M4 is a hard one to review because even before strapping yourself inside, you know you’re going to adore it.
You gotta give it to BMW, it sure knows how to dress up its cars with fancy colors. this BMW M4 was dressed in flamboyant San Marino Blue, a color which elegantly shifts towards a purple hue when sitting under a blazing sun. This car still looks fantastic, and properly summer.
Power from the twin-turbo inline-6 – the M4 still gets a version of the engine fast Beemers have always been known for, just now with turbocharging – is rated at 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, enough to complete the 0-100 km/h run in about 4 seconds. It’s a feat made even more hardcore by choosing the fastest of three gear-change speeds. In addition to the throttle response, you can also tweak the steering and suspension and the differences can be felt here more readily than in many cars that purport to have varying drive and handling setting.
To cut fuel consumption by 40 per cent and make the Bentley GTC more thrilling to drive at the same time is an achievement.
Drop the roof, floor the throttle and the muscular exhaust note dominates the experience – performance is virtually on a par with the W12 model, too. Grip and body control is excellent, considering the GTC’s bulk and ride quality, but the fingertip light steering could do with more feel. Whether you go for the Coupe or Convertible depends entirely on whether you prioritise driving dynamics or aural drama. Either way you’ll be buying a car that’s better to drive and cheaper to own than its W12 counterpart.
Peeling the heavy canvas hood back takes the motors 25 seconds, and can be done at speeds of up to 20mph. The noise with it stowed is sublime – enough to recommend this car over the W12 version alone.
Do not adjust your sets, folks. Yes, this is a Jeep Wrangler off-roader in a convertibles chart; and that's because this is one of the only 4x4s left on the market that comes with a fully removable, three-panel 'freedom top' roof (well, what else were they likely to call it?); or an easier-stowing 'sunrider' cloth top as an option.
Where open-air driving experiences are concerned, you can't really get more extreme. Take a set of Torx screwdrivers to your Wrangler and you'll find you can not only remove the forward and rear sections of the roof, but also fold down the windscreen and remove the passenger side doors entirely.
The driving experience remains just a little rough and ready, but it's perfectly civilised considering how tough and capable the car is, and it needn't put you off the idea of using one every day.
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