Summer isn’t nearly as enjoyable without top-down driving. As much as we’re fans of hardtop automotive design and the way a sweeping roofline catches the eye, we have to admit that the clear growl of an engine and the wind in your hair makes the warmer months that much better. Even a drive up Pacific Coast Highway in a cream-hued 1995 Chrysler Sebring Convertible can be a pleasure (as long as no one actually sees you). Bully for you, convertibles are better than ever — gone are the fussy tops, the anemic engines, and silhouettes that would make Quasimodo cringe. The crop of current convertibles range from modern nostalgia to supercar power players, but one thing they all do is make your motoring pleasure good for all the world to see.
MORE WARM WEATHER FUN: 10 Days in Kenya | 2012 Summer Reading List | 7 Days in Belize
50 Articles, 150 Gear Essentials, 1 Trek Across Cuba: Your Guide to Making Summer 2013 The Best Ever »
Mazda MX-5 Club
Convertible for the Purist: If ever there was a little roadster that reignited the world’s passion for convertibles, it was the Mazda Miata. Now, in its near perfect form, the Mazda Miata MX-5 Club is the epitome of summer driving fun. The ultimate compact roadster in Club garb means you get a more than capable 167-hp normally-aspirated 4-cylinder, a wickedly good short throw 6-speed manual, a tight sport suspension, limited slip diff and a shock tower brace — all for the purpose of nailing those apexes on the way to work. Plus, the simple and proper soft top means you don’t mess with center of gravity. It’s a ride you won’t soon forget since you’ll be smiling from ear to ear; even the rich and famous will feel a twinge of envy as they see you trace the raw asphalt’s edge.
Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG
Convertible for the Power Boulevardier: If you’re wealthy and 25 years old, this car will make you look like a dork poseur, since you need an air of confident sophistication to even appear right driving it; it’s all about driving wickedly fast while having nothing to prove. Though not as powerful as the V12 (but arguably better), the SL63 AMG has plenty of punch with its 530-hp 5.5-liter biturbo V8. For $70K less than the SL65 AMG, it only gives up 3/10ths of a second in the launch from a standstill to 60. Plus, the aluminum body sheds 300 pounds from the previous car, making it more nimble (relatively speaking). You’ll appreciate the power when you’re trying to get away from the hordes of gold-diggers eyeing your ride.
Volkswagen Beetle Turbo Convertible
Convertible for the Beach Comber: If you’re looking to break any land speed records, you’ll pass this one by — but you’d be mistaken in thinking that this car isn’t much fun. In fact, in its new, more masculine design (the old one couldn’t be less masculine, really), the VW Beetle Turbo Convertible is about as fun as it gets when it comes to ragtops. The 2.0-liter turbo four has 200 hp and will get to 60 in under seven seconds, so it’s no sea slug, and the 18-inch Twister wheels even echo vintage Porsche 911 (believe it or not). This affordable convertible should make for some lifelong summer memories, and you just might forget you even have a job after a weekend at the beach with it. We’re just glad that you can now drive one without the completely emasculating bud vase.
Lamborghini Aventador Roadster
The Paparazzi Magnet Convertible: Good luck getting your grubby mits on this fantastical fixed roof, wheeled stealth fighter. More of a targa than a convertible, the Aventador Roadster adds even more panache to this already glorious supercar. The 691-horsepower all-wheel-drive monster delivers open-air goodness via a remarkable 13.2-pound triple-composite roof that stows under the hood (leave your snacks at home — there’s no room). The revised engine covers and rear treatment are sights to behold, but you’ll be too busy keeping your pulse at normal levels as you tear up the tarmac in one of the most coveted cars in recent memory.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible
The Home Grown Exotic Convertible: The new Corvette Stingray brings the American steed from a mild state of darkness (the interior, especially) into the glorious light of a true exotic — and still at a bargain price. Now that the Convertible version has bowed, we’re chomping at the bit to hit the summer roads with the best-looking ‘Vette in decades. And even though you lose the beautiful rear quarter panel window of the coupe, the top-up look is still streamlined and sexy. The seriously upgraded interior is finally rife with better materials and ergonomics, too. We’re simply relieved that it’ll come with a magnificent 7-speed manual transmission, so we can row through the gears as the wind violently parts our hair.
ADVENTURE IS ONE CLICK AWAY
Subscribe to GP for a daily dose of the best in gear, adventure, design, tech and culture. 5pm sharp.