Imagine the scene: the sun is out, the weather is warm and a twisty road opens up in front of you. This is the opportunity to enjoy your drive in a way in which you seldom get the chance. What could make it better? Of course, the ability to remove the roof and let a cool summer breeze in.
Convertibles come in all shapes and sizes, and you can choose a long-legged cruiser, a high-performer or a fashion trinket. The common theme will be the ability of retracting back the roof and letting in the glorious weather.
To make our list of the best, though, a convertible needs to offer security and comfort when the weather turns sour, as well as proper usability. We don't, by and large, classify affordable sports cars here; to us a cabriolet or convertible is a different beast, more usable and rounded than a true sports car and suited to more broad use. So which are the best of them?
Our cabrio class champ is a car that perfectly typifies why convertibles and sports cars are quite different things. The Audi TT has, since birth, played the classy, stylish, usable, extra-special everyday driver better than the out-and-out driver's car; and it continues to now even in convertible form. Keen drivers might find the Roadster a little too easy and unchallenging to drive, but it's that undemanding ease of use that makes the car appeal to those who only want a dash of seasoning with their choice of wheels.
The Audi’s fluid handling and zesty petrol TFSI motor make it fast enough and reasonable fun when you want it to be, even in entry-level form. The engine range kicks off with a 194bhp 2.0-litre option but ranges upwards to include 242-, 302- and 394bhp choices, with a choice of either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. And that mechanical flexiblity is also a key part of the car's strength every bit as important as its solidly built and appealing interior or its catwalk-model looks.
No need to make a head versus heart decision then. Put simply, this is a 'want-one' kind of car. You want it? You’ll love it.
Mercedes' cars are seldom at their best when targetting driver appeal; that's why it took an out-of-house performance department like AMG (now brought in-house, of course) so really inject some dynamism into its offerings. That fact also makes Mercedes' cruiser cabriolets well-equipped to do well in this chart, and they are, by and large, machines of a mature, secure and self-possessed charm which are great at enriching a roof-down journey without necessarily enticing you to breakneck speeds.
The best of them is the middle-sized one, the E-Class Cabriolet, which offers proper four-seater space and usability, and somehow confers greater stature than the smaller C-, without trespassing to the price levels of the open S-Class and SL-. The car's got all the technological refinements and luxury cabin lures of other E-Class bodystyles, and feels genuinely rich and enveloping to travel in. Its ride is comfortable and quiet, its character genteel and long-striding; but it needn't be slow or exciting.