Nothing quite compares to the raw thrill of owning a convertible. To feel the wind blow through your hair and hear the growl of the engine is a pure driving experience, and nothing gets quite as much attention as a topless model cruising the streets on a summer evening. It makes absolutely no sense if you cycle, play golf or have a family, but for sheer motoring pleasure, a drop top is incredible.
From the classic Z4 to the ultra-luxurious M6 BMW there’s a convertible for every taste and just about every budget. We got behind the wheel of the surprisingly agile 440i hard-top convertible. The 240kW 3.0 litre engine in this particular model is mind-blowingly quick. There’s an almost instantaneous response from the accelerator, and the TwinPower engine can get you from zero to 100km/h in just under 5.5 seconds. But what makes this BMW so exciting to drive is not its raw power or brutish speed, but all the design elements and German ingenuity that set it apart from some of the more affordable and incredibly mundane competitors.
Eco driving experience…
This summer Damian Murphy finds a pair of convertibles that are as powerful and intelligent as they are easy-on-the-eye.
BMW uses state-of-the-art engineering to deliver a nearly flawless ride without compromising on efficiency. Through their advancements in hybrid technology with models like the i8, the company is able to deliver a car that can perform on a racetrack and yet still remains as efficient as your regular family sedan. BMW’s Eco Pro driving mode intelligently adapts the 440i to your driving conditions. It uses the information it gets from the driver and your environment to adapt different elements of the car to perform more efficiently. By adapting the acceleration, braking and even the climate control, Eco Pro driving can save you as much as 20% of your fuel consumption. One of the clever features you’ll enjoy is the coasting function, which allows the 440i to glide along the road at optimum efficiency without the driver needing to touch the accelerator.
You can get yourself a 4 series convertible for around R700 000 if you are interested in the manual 420i model. But if you add in some of BMW’s best features expect the price to be north of R900 000.
Voted South Africa’s car of the year in 2013, the Porsche Boxster received a great deal of flak from the motoring community for its win. Not because the car isn’t good enough but because people felt it didn’t truly reflect the South African motoring landscape. The sad thing for Porsche is that it was a worthy champion. The Boxster stands tall in its market segment – there is validation in its victory.
The 2.0 litre 220kW engine is brutal in such a small package. There’s something sophisticated but at the same time wild about this Porsche. You’ll want to find a different route home just so you can take it out for a little longer; you’ll even want to find some twists and turns on a ‘quick’ trip to the shops. It feels like there’s a beast under the bonnet yearning to be unleashed. It is because of the Boxster’s unbelievable suspension that this car is streets ahead of the competition. Porsche’s Active Suspension Management continuously adjusts the damping force on each wheel, based on current road conditions and driving style. You can choose between two different suspension settings, normal and sport. Porsche describes normal as a balance of performance and comfort, where the sports setting just stiffens everything up. The sporty performance of the new Boxster is carried through the Porsche’s interior. The designers have placed a strong emphasis on horizontal lines to accentuate the Boxster’s pedigree, without compromising on comfort or the excellent ergonomics Porsche is renowned for. The interior is almost entirely customisable; you’re able to build yourself the perfect reflection of your own sports car dream.
Porsche had an advert on TV some years ago that asked what the world would be like if everything had to be practical. And that is exactly what owning a convertible is all about – imagination. Sometimes you need to be a dreamer and just go out and live.
We couldn’t do a story about convertibles without making mention that Range Rover has recently launched a convertible version of the Evoque. Sadly, the first model only hit our shores at the latest SA Festival of Motoring. With almost all of the 30 models in South Africa already sold, we suggest acting fast.