Insider's Picks: 7 Hot Cabriolets for Summer

A slew of flash convertibles due to hitting the streets now heralds a new era of fast and furious summer loving. We pick the sports cars to covet

Shiny, happy people with radiant, sun-kissed skin and artfully wind-swept hair – car advertising over the years has boosted the allure of the cabriolet. But even if basking in the sun’s rays does not catch your fancy, there is a lot to be said for top-down motoring, particularly on cool nights, wind-in-hair cruising on the empty roads. 

BMW M6 Convertible

Short of full-fledged exotics, there are few cars that inspire as much awe as BMW’s ‘M’ models. Hot on the heels of the M5 comes the M6 in both coupe and convertible guises. There is a sense of refinement and sporty elegance about the 6 Series convertible shape that we have always admired, particularly its use of a cloth-roof – as opposed to the retractable hardtop so much in vogue these days.

With its purposeful styling, the M6 Convertible injects a healthy dollop of macho, steroidal aggression into the mix, which is further augmented by its raging twin-turbocharged V8 and 'Jack-be-Nimble' agility, the latter of which can be attributed to the car’s Active M Differential. At full pelt, the car will charge to 100 km/h from stationary in just over four seconds, but it is in the corners that it really shines. The lightning-quick M-DCT dual-clutch seven-speed transmission and near-perfect weight-balance, coupled with the optional carbon-ceramic brakes, are the delightful cherry toppings to this tasty ride.

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Audi R8 GT Spyder

Some people prefer to do without the flash factor associated with supercar brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini, yet want to enjoy a certain level of dynamic performance and quasi-exotic looks. In GT guise, the Audi R8 Spyder inherits the good stuff that made the GT Coupe such a formidable adversary on the track, thanks to a little more power and torque, but chiefly because advanced materials have shed excess weight, endowing this menacing machine with decent dynamics.

Like the GT Coupe, the GT Spyder is limited to just 333 units worldwide, with aerodynamics and trim unique to the variant. The result is a finely tuned, incisive driving instrument that looks as good as it can be driven hard, particularly with the fabric-roof down. The mesmerising symphony of the V10 is almost physical in its high-rpm intensity.

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Bentley V8 Continental GTC

The mention of ‘Bentley’ often evokes a sense of tradition that some feel borders on conservative, especially with its range of large-engined luxury grand tourers. However, to tap into an increasingly younger and affluent demographic the brand has unveiled V8 variants of the GT Coupe and Convertible, which blend sporty performance with a youthful image.

Bentley’s new twin-turbocharged four-litre V8 delivers 500 bhp and a mammoth 660Nm of torque, which is on tap from as low as 1,700 rpm – good enough for a five-second 100 km/h sprint from standstill and a 301km/h top speed. Sporty yet prepossessed with a stately air, there is no denying the brand’s majesty as the V8 Continental GTC prowls the roads. The V8 models are distinguished by their black gloss matrix grille with chrome accents, prominent front air-dam and red enamel Bentley ‘B’ badge, which is a throwback to the 1920s. 

 

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Ferrari 458 Spider

The topless version of the Prancing Horse’s popular mid-engined V8 Berlinetta breaks cover in retractable hardtop guise. The Ferrari Spider packs all the same technological wizardry as its coupe counterpart, which includes a nimble chassis, snappy seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and incisive steering.

Unique to the Spider is a specially tuned exhaust note. The roof takes just 14 seconds to deploy and has been engineered to fit neatly ahead of the engine bay without compromising aerodynamics or the car’s performance. The distinctive buttresses help channel airflow to the engine intakes, as well as the clutch and gearbox oil radiators.

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Maserati GranCabrio Sport

Given its deliciously fruity exhaust note even at low speeds, most car-spotters hear a Maserati approach long before the car comes into sight. With its jaw-dropping looks and melodic soundtrack, the GranCabrio Sport adds some dynamic zing to the standard GranCabrio formula. Visually, the external differences between the GranCabrio Sport and its lesser brethren are subtle. The fine touches include an understated bodykit and black accents, while the Trident in the front grille sports red prongs – a feature that appears only on the most powerful cars in the Maserati range.

The familiar 4.7-liter V8 found at the heart of the car will sing stridently to the tune of 450 bhp and 510Nm – a real treat with the fabric-roof down, while an updated version of the car’s ‘Skyhook’ adaptive suspension should ensure the GranCabrio Sport will acquit itself admirably both driven hard and cruising.

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Porsche 911 Cabriolet

Few things look as distinctive on the roads as the Porsche 911. Like the recently launched 911 Coupe, the Cabriolet will be available in both Carrera and Carrera S guises. All the classic 911 design traits have been retained, yet the latest model is truly a product of our times. With its unique hood, it retains the typical 911 roof line in its entirety. The cabin is well appointed and more refined than before.

Despite its growing proportions, the Carrera S still proves to be a keen handler and responsive machine, with the bark of its angry flat-six cylinder soundtrack to keep one company when the going goes fast. The Carrera is powered by a 3.4L six-cylinder engine that produces 350 bhp, while the Carrera S sees a flat-six 3.8L in service delivering 400 bhp.

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mercedes-benz SLS AMG Roadster

This stunning, roofless iteration of the SLS lacks the coupe model’s trademark gull-wing doors but it will still turn its fair share of heads on the streets, especially with the roadster’s subtle musculature and pronounced haunches. Beauty might only be skin-deep but in the case of the SLS Roadster there is enough stuff going on under its skin to ensure it will never be mistaken for just another pretty face.

An advanced lightweight aluminum space-frame and suspension; 6.3-liter naturally aspirated V8 with dry-sump lubrication; and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission are just a few of the dynamic highlights. Roof-wise, the fabric top can be operated at up to 50 km/h and will open or close in 11 seconds – just quick enough to provide shelter if the heavens decree a sudden summer rainstorm.   

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