Six sun-kissed convertibles to blow your hair back this summer

17 September 2020 - 09:35 By Phuti Mpyane
BMW M850i convertible is a great blend of grand touring and breezy hot weather driving. Picture: SUPPLIED
BMW M850i convertible is a great blend of grand touring and breezy hot weather driving. Picture: SUPPLIED

SA’s warm weather is perfect for fully paid-up members of the open-top car club. With sunny skies and braaivleis season upon us we thought we’d look at some choice drop-top options  on sale now or soon to be launched:

BMW 8 Series convertible

Grand Touring is a wonderful way to undertake a vacation. It’s even more immersive with the roof down. BMW’s 8 Series convertible, which saw the recent introduction of animalistic M8 versions, all of the boxes for a companion during the warm weather season.

Its 2+2 configuration makes it great for family ice cream outings and it’s quite acceptable for everyday use. We’d opt for the M850i above the full metal jacket M8 for its relatively more affordable price, genuine race pace and a still very delightful V8 baritone. Price is R2,318,524    

If the upcoming Elva is too extreme then the 720S is the next best thing for roofless driving from McLaren. Picture: SUPPLIED
If the upcoming Elva is too extreme then the 720S is the next best thing for roofless driving from McLaren. Picture: SUPPLIED

McLaren 720S Spider

Though it doesn’t possess the extraordinary 720S coupe doors that swing out and upwards with their roof cut-outs, there’s no doubting the 720S Spider is an equally sensational looking thing despite a pretty regular roof opening sequence, which transforms it in 11 seconds.

The Spider is about as extrovert as open-roof cars can get and it’s a fitting companion to the fighter-jet-esque 720S coupe. The interior is beautifully finished in the best leathers, Alcantara and carbon fibre and gets the same telemetry screen that flips into a race car style binnacle when sport mode is activated.

Its other selling point is that it uses the same 529kW and 770Nm 4.0l V8 twin-turbo engine that can propel it from standstill to 100km/h in 2.9 seconds and onto a bonkers top speed of 325km/h, all of this while exposed to the elements. Price on application.

The latest 718 Spyder is a modern reminder of simpler and purer times, with its cloth roof still operated by hand. Picture: SUPPLED
The latest 718 Spyder is a modern reminder of simpler and purer times, with its cloth roof still operated by hand. Picture: SUPPLED

Porsche 718 Spyder

Open-top Porsches offer the best seats in the house to experience the aural beauty of the noise made by highly-strung six-cylinder boxer motors, while enjoying the natural splendour of a country’s landscape.

The latest 718 Spyder is based on the 718 Boxster but it’s a modern reminder of simpler and purer times, with its cloth roof still operated by hand instead of the usual electric operation of today. If you’ve had grey hair for more than three decades then you’ll know it’s a descendant of James Dean’s 550 Spyder.

The running gear also mimics analogue times through a naturally-aspirated 309kW 4.0l six-cylinder boxer engine that revs to 8,000rpm.

The 718 Spyder is not just a roadster. It’s a lightweight and ornamental performance piece that’s dipped in rich wind-in-your-cheese kop driving history. It costs R1,714,000    

The Mercedes-Benz E53 4Matic Cabriolet is a roofless indulgence for four. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Mercedes-Benz E53 4Matic Cabriolet is a roofless indulgence for four. Picture: SUPPLIED

Mercedes-Benz E53 4Matic Cabriolet

One of the most comfortable, elegant and tech savvy cabriolets on the road, it shares everything with its E-Class cousins, including seats for four, all-wheel drive and that sassy turbocharged and supercharged V6 engine. It remains true to its origins as a discerning gentleman or lady chariot with its canvas roof that’s easily stowed away at a push of an electric button when the sun is shining. And it’s got one of the best air conditioning systems to deal with most weather elements, from an air cap that reduces wind buffeting to an air scarf that blows hot air onto the necks of passengers.  Price R1,606,960

The Mini Cooper Convertible provides open-topped driving charm at a keen price. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Mini Cooper Convertible provides open-topped driving charm at a keen price. Picture: SUPPLIED

Mini Cooper Convertible

Minis are spunky and premium little hatches that offer some of the best driving fun when presented with an empty and twisty B-road. In cabriolet guise they retain the brand’s go-kart essence but they do offer a different experience that’s more laid back.

Their dinky size and chic looks make them perfect for urbanites who will no doubt keep the roof mostly down at all hours of the day. They accommodate four passengers at a squeeze and when the roof is down the rear bench is a convenient and effortless place to chuck in small groceries when doing your shopping rounds. Our choice would be the punchy Cooper S version for R663,330, but the regular Cooper sells for a more affordable R591,192.   

The apex Audi R8 is a very fine summer indulgence, and it’s eye-wateringly fast. Picture: SUPPLIED
The apex Audi R8 is a very fine summer indulgence, and it’s eye-wateringly fast. Picture: SUPPLIED

Audi R8 Spyder

For those who must have the four rings motif, a removable roof, quattro underpinnings and a booming V10 that gives it palm-sweating performance beating behind the two seats, then the Audi R8 will satisfy. With outputs of 449kW and 560Nm, it’s a heavy-hitter that tops out at a zany 331km/h.

It’s involving to drive, handles amazingly well and it’s a spectacular looker. And it’s an absolute howler when wringing out its engine. A new version will arrive in January 2021. Price on application.​ 


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