From affordable open-top frills to drophead coupes that require regular lottery wins simply to keep them on the road and topped up with fuel, the choice of convertibles to suit every size, style and wallet has never been greater or promised more fun.
The Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet from €21,000
The first iteration of this reborn icon was all style and no substance, but the mark II is a totally new experience. Built on the same platform as the much sportier Scirocco coupe, the new Beetle retains the good looks of the last model but now they’re suitably toned down so that they are less feminine and more androgynous, meaning that even a man’s man can still be a man’s man when behind the wheel.
The Mazda MX-5 from €21,500
When the first model hit the streets back in 1989, it was treated with derision by the world’s motoring press as a poor visual copy of old English sportscars. But then they actually drove it and fell in love with it and as a result it has been a fixture on roads the world over for 24 years.
The secret to its success is pure drivability, reliability and practicality. Want to know what it’s like to drive a classic E-type Jag or Lotus Elan, take an MX-5 (or a Miata in North America) out for a test drive.
The Porsche Boxster from €44,250
This car will never be totally accepted by some Porsche purists who see it as a vehicle to make do with when available funds won’t stretch to a droptop 911. And while the Boxster does lack a bit of grunt compared to its bigger brother, it was designed from the ground up to be a sports convertible so the handling is exquisite, the build quality is bullet proof, and unlike the 911, its engine is not hanging over the back wheels – it is exactly mid-mounted for perfect balance.
The BMW Z4 sDrive 35i, from €46,000
Like the Beetle, the first generation of this car was an uncomfortable disappointment, but BMW is probably the best car maker in the world when it comes to responding to criticism.
Even though this car is by no means the fastest sports convertible, even within its price range, it just gets so many things right – balance, poise, handling, and simple daily driving pleasure.
The Jaguar F-Type V8S, from €92,500
A car that instantly reminds you of how wonderful Jaguar used to be as a race car, sports car and luxury car company. It somehow manages to draw on all of that heritage while throwing something new into the mix. Its all-aluminum construction means it’s light and quick off the mark and its 5-litre, supercharged V8 feels like using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut, but that’s the point.
However, softening the din and taking the edge off all of the noise is the car’s outward style. Its movie matinee idol good looks will make you stand out, whether crawling through gridlocked city-center traffic or competing with assorted Ferraris and Porsches on vast and sprawling open road.
The Audi R8 Spyder, from €117,000
A bit of a dark horse this one and one that started off as a crossbreed; but it is developing into a thoroughbred if such a thing is possible. Built by the same collection of companies responsible for the Porsche Boxster, Lamborghini Gallardo and Bugatti Veyron, it borrows from all of them but somehow the result is something else entirely.
A fabulous V10 engine with 525bhp, the best double-clutch paddle shift gearbox in the world and a quality, reliability and dare we say it, practicality that is otherwise alien in the world of the supercar.
The Ferrari California from €176,000
This car breaks a cardinal Ferrari rule, its V8 engine is front mounted. A Ferrari V8 always goes in the middle to guarantee perfect weight distribution and therefore handling. But with the engine in the middle, there’s nowhere to put the roof when folded down.
Like the Porsche Boxster, this has been built from the start to be a true convertible and yet still be a true Ferrari and one that can go from 0-100kpm in the blink of an eye and hit 310kpm flat out.
Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible, from €194,500
This car holds the title of the world’s fastest two-door, four-seat convertible but the truth is, while it is indeed an engineering masterpiece, with the roof down, 100mph and 200mph feel pretty much identical for the passengers at least. The interior is sumptuous and an exercise in discreet refinement.
The Mercedes SL 65 AMG from €195,000
Is it a straight-line boulevard cruiser, a car honed for the track, a cross-continental GT or a supercar trying to challenge Ferrari? The simple answer is that it’s all of the above and more.
The AMG edition makes a wonderful engine noise akin to that of a squadron of Spitfire WWII fighter planes while the interior is overflowing with creature comforts and cutting-edge technological breakthroughs, from active collision avoidance to radar-guided cruise control.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, from €350,000
The only car on the list that needs to be specified with a chauffeur, this car is fun to be driven in and there’s space in the back for an impromptu game of rugby, let alone for reclining and enjoying the cities whiz by on the drive down to the Côte d’Azur.
The roof contains more sound and heat insulation than the average house and the rear deck lid is carved from solid teak and needs regular oiling, just like on a luxury yacht.