Whether you call it a 'soft top', 'hard top', 'drop-head', 'roadster', 'spyder' or 'cabriolet' the open-top car has always been synonymous with style, flair and something of a bohemian spirit of adventure. Consider such iconic cultural moments as the Fiat 500 carrying Audrey Hepburn complete with wind-defying head scarf; Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in her Sunbeam Talbot on the French Riviera, James Dean in his famous Porsche 550 Spyder; or the Ferrari 250GT California that helped Ferris Bueller enjoy his day off. Today, thanks to advances in technology and design innovation, convertible-coveting buyers are spoilt for choice. Here are some of the best.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
Straight out of Mercedes' AMG performance centre, this low-slung muscle- bound car boasts a formidable 6.2-litre V8 engine, pumping out 563 brake horsepower via a 7-speed paddle-shift gear box. With power and pace, this car not only looks the part but also delivers the performance one expects from the marque. Its collapsible fabric top can be opened or closed in just 11 seconds, allowing passengers to stay dry whilst remaining impeccably stylish.
Perfectly balanced for the road, with a lightweight frame and braking system, and fitted with suspension settings to suit most terrains, this car is as much about comfort as it is about performance and style.
Bentley Continental GTC
The word Bentley has long been synonymous with chauffeurs and stiff upper lips; however, bucking the traditionalist trend the new convertible Bentley Continental GTC might just be the car that helps to rejuvenate Bentley's image.
Despite its modest 4-litre V-8 engine, this open-top incarnation of the classic Continental is stunningly rapid. Far lighter than its solid roofed counterpart the all-wheel drive Continental GTC is also noticeably more agile. Of course, in keeping with Bentley's reputation for luxury the GTC's sumptuously handcrafted interior and lavish trimmings do not disappoint. With a more youthful coupe feel, the GTC is the ideal fusion of classical elegance and modern performance.
Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Spyder Performante
If it's all in a name 'performante' says it all. This ultra-lightweight drop-top is a convertible work of art, both from an aesthetic and functional perspective. With its stunning body lines, air vents and sleek profile this is as much a work to be admired from afar as to be enjoyed from the driver's seat in a g-force heavy blur down an open road. This glorious speed demon boasts a 5.2-litre V10 engine that can screech off the line to 100km/h in a blistering 3.9 seconds. Indeed the engineers at Lamborghini had one overriding mantra as they worked on the new Gallardo: shed weight. Featuring the aluminium body, lightweight wheels and bolts as well as a minimal interior, this car is Lamborghini's lightest convertible yet. As with any Lamborghini, the sleek design and roaring engine will no doubt be just as effective at turning heads as it will be at burning rubber.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster
No stranger to sexy convertibles, Aston Martin has recreated its Vantage S and produced the dynamic Vantage Roadster. Borrowing some of the more successful technology from the Vantage S it has also added new specifications to give the car a sportier feel. Additions include the Sportshift 7-speed transmission, 10mm wider tyres and quicker steering ratio for improved handling. Visible differences include the front splitter and rear diffuser that far from being a cosmetic detail, contribute to the improved drivability and racing appeal of this 4.7-litre V8 charged roadster. A beauty to behold as well as to drive Aston Martin has excelled once again and it is not difficult to see why this chariot is the vehicle of choice for secret agents and celebrities alike.
Jaguar XKR-S Convertible
First unveiled in 2011, the XKR-S is Jaguar's latest addition to its new convertible line up. An evolution of the XKR-S Coupe, the XKR-S Convertible is the fastest and most powerful open-topped GT Jaguar has built. Using the same 5-litre supercharged AJ-V8 engine as its coupe counterpart, this sleek machine can take you to a top speed of almost 300km/h. The XKR-S convertible not only boasts supreme speed and acceleration, the evolved exterior makes it look even more aggressive and sporty. Jaguar has created its finest open-top masterpiece to date with the formidable Jaguar XKR-S Convertible, a beast of a car in gorgeous feline form.