After a flash drop-top? Here's what to look out for from the used market for performance-focused convertibles

The sun's out, so it's time to oggle over some flash cars for summer show-offs. Put on a baseball cap, slap on the factor 30 and take to the roads in an ostentatious drop-top.

1. Audi R8 V10 Spyder (2010-2012)

The R8 V10 may lack the draw of a top-notch supercar, but it has the heart and soul of a super-quick and well-balanced sporting convertible.

It’s thrilling, too, thanks to a mid-mounted 518bhp 5.2-litre V10 that’s related to the one in the Lamborghini Gallardo. It drives all four wheels, providing enough thrust and traction to hit 62mph from rest in 4.1sec and a breezy 194mph flat out. A canvas roof keeps weight low and the handling is rear biased for fun. You can choose either a six-speed manual or an automated R-tronic transmission.

Quality is first class and problems are few, but you’ll need deep pockets to buy such a thing. Prices start at £60k for a 2011 example. 

2. Bentley Continental GTC (2006-present)

If you want to waft effortlessly across continents in great style while soaking up the rays, the car in which you should do it is the fast, refined, beautifully finished and elegant Continental GTC.

Performance is as you’d expect from something with a 552bhp 6.0-litre twin turbo W12 muscle to flex, with a 0-62mph time of just 4.8sec and a top speed of 195mph. The GTC will whisper around town and growl out on the open road, if you want it to. It also rides and handles surprisingly well, aided by four-wheel drive, while the leather and wood interior is suitably cosseting, with room for four.

Buy a 2007 car now for around £41k and point it towards the south of France. Expect monstrous fuel bills, though. 

3. Ariel Atom (2000-present)

The Atom is packed full of petrolhead emotion and, as you can see, not much else. So savour the visual delights of its exoskeletal tubing and the intricate workings of the suspension, or just enjoy its magnificent turn of speed. This isn’t wind-in-the-hair-fun so much as cheek sucking, tonsorial torture.

There are a number of engine options, from a 245bhp 2.0-litre Honda four pot unit to a 500bhp 3.0-litre V8, but all are astonishingly quick and will see off 0-60mph in less than 3.0sec. Add a supremely communicative chassis and you’ve got the most exhilarating machine this side of a superbike.

Around £40k should put you in the driver’s seat. 

4. Maserati GranCabrio (2010-present)

If you desire a fast and luxurious four-seater convertible carrying one of the most iconic badges in motoring history, this Maserati will be right up your street.

The eye-catching GranCabrio sports a 450bhp 4.7-litre V8 that gives it, via a six-speed automatic gearbox, significant pace, namely 0-62mph in around five seconds and a top speed of 175mph. It sounds magnificent, too, with a charismatic burble to complement the elegant styling. The interior is suitably opulent, with plenty of room for four.

Alas, it’s no lightweight, and the suspension is firm, but corners can be approached with confidence, if not the speed of some Italian thoroughbreds.

Put one on your drive for £48k or so.

5. Lotus 340R (2000)

It’s one of those problems that can keep you awake at night: you want an Elise but you know it’s just too heavy and compromised. Enter the 340R, a stripped-down and extreme version of the lightweight Lotus and a concept car dream that made the showrooms.

Extreme? There are no doors and no roof. Underneath, it’s tweaked Elise, and all the better for it. Power is from the familiar 177bhp 1.8-litre Rover-derived engine, so expect 0-60mph in 4.3sec and a top speed of 130mph. With its stiffened suspension, the 340R is super sharp, amazingly agile and wonderfully rewarding on road or track, and grip is immense, thanks to bespoke semi-slick Yokohama tyres.

Only 340 were built, and finding one is tricky. Pay around £30k when you do. 

Our Verdict

Ariel Atom

In every form the Ariel Atom delivers thrills as exhilarating as any car can deliver. And there’s no greater recommendation than that.

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Comments
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7 June 2016
Neither the Atom nor 340R are convertibles as neither has a roof.

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