Convertibles are traditionally associated with summer in many countries, but winter is the best time to enjoy a drop-top in our region.
Only a glutton for punishment would want to cruise al fresco during the UAE summer, but the temperature range from December through to March is perfect for a drive with the top down.
So, with that in mind, here are our our top 10 convertible picks for this winter…
Bentley Continental GT Convertible
The sublime-looking Continental GT Convertible is no bargain-basement special, but every element of this svelte ragtop has an exquisite look and feel, so you can at least see where all your money went.
Push a button and the plush roof lowers or raises in less than 20 seconds at speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour. There’s seating for four, although the rear pews are best suited to the junior brigade.
The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 thumps out 550 horsepower and 770Nm, propelling the GTC from 0-100kph in 4.1 seconds and on to 320kph flat out. Prices start from Dh945,000.
The third-generation Z4 is characterised by its dramatic angular styling, setting it clearly apart from its ancestors. Unlike its predecessor, which had a folding metal top, the latest Z4 reverts to a fabric roof, which helps lower the centre of gravity, as well as boosting boot space to a respectable 281 litres.
The heavily redesigned suspension makes this Z4 a taut handler, although still not a match for Porsche's ultra-nimble Boxster. Engine options range from a 197hp 2.0-litre turbo four-pot in the sDrive20i to a 388hp 3.0-litre turbo six in the Z4 M40i. Prices start from Dh255,000.
Ferrari F8 Spider
The F8 Tributo coupe is an epic drive, but the open-topped Spider escalates the fun to an other-worldly dimension. Lopping off the roof doesn't always make for pleasing aesthetics, but the Spider looks even better than the Tributo.
As per its sibling, propulsion comes from a 720hp 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 that spears the Spider from 0-100kph in a scant 2.9 seconds, and on to a top speed of 340kph. Even the way the two-piece metal roof folds into the rear compartment is a drama-filled act – it’s poetry in motion. Prices start from Dh1,040,550.
Ford Mustang GT 5.0 Convertible
We’re fans of the Mustang GT coupe, as its crisp handling and potent 460hp 5.0-litre motor make it a rewarding package. Adding open-air cruising capability to the recipe is no bad thing, especially as this makes that sonorous V8 even more audible.
The GT Convertible dispatches the 0-100kph sprint in just 4.1 seconds, but it’s just as happy pootling along Jumeirah Beach Road, with the 10-speed auto shifting seamlessly through the gears. You also get four seats and a 332-litre boot, so the pony car scores well in terms of practicality. Prices start from Dh234,265.
Jaguar F-Type Convertible
Jag’s slinky F-Type recently scored a substantial facelift and upgrade, breathing new life into the sportster. The enlarged grille and swept-back headlights make for a more aggressive face than before, but the rear is much the same.
The suspension has been heavily re-engineered for sharper responses and the steering has also been revamped for greater tactility. The Jag’s much-improved dynamics and aesthetics bring it up to speed against its German opposition and the F-Type is now a worthy rival. Prices start from Dh310,905 for the 300hp four-cylinder model.
This may seem a left-field choice in a list of convertibles, but in the Wrangler you can ditch not only the roof, but also the doors, putting you in even closer contact to nature. Its go-anywhere capability has made the Wrangler a popular choice in our region, and Jeep has adhered to much of the vehicle’s age-old recipe, even though the powertrain and interior have been upgraded over the years to make it a more contemporary offering.
A recent addition to the Wrangler range is the Rubicon 392, powered by a thumping 470hp 6.4-litre V8. Prices start from Dh145,000.
No best-convertible list is complete without including Mazda's evergreen MX-5. The compact roadster has always delivered more smiles per mile than you might think possible from an affordable four-cylinder roadster with "only" 184hp.
The MX-5 is a classic embodiment of the less-is-more formula. Its waif-like girth of just 1,048 kilograms makes the Mazda superbly nimble and a delight to hustle across twisty roads, with an ultra-slick six-speed gearbox adding to the fun. It's pleasing to the eye, too, as well as being supremely easy to live with on a day-to-day basis. Prices start from Dh149,900.
Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet
The E-Class Cabriolet's recent facelift resulted in a brawnier-looking drop-top with a much nicer cabin than before. The Merc’s strengths lie in its superb refinement and ability to cosset its occupants, even with the fabric roof tucked out of sight. Lowering and raising the roof is achieved via a button push, and it takes under 20 seconds either way.
The most significant update is the E450’s new 370hp in-line six-cylinder turbo motor, which is smooth and powerful in equal measure, whooshing the car to 100kph in 5.2 seconds. Prices start from Dh250,000.
Mini Cooper S Convertible
The cheeky Mini is pricey for a hatchback of such compact dimensions, but whatever it lacks in size, it makes up for in quality. It doesn’t lack performance, either, as the punchy 2.0-litre turbo engine ekes out 192hp and 300Nm, enabling the little ragtop to bolt from 0-100kph in 7.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 230kph.
A midlife update in 2018 introduced a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox in place of the old auto. The Mini convertible is great fun to drive around, as it feels every bit as agile as its fixed-roof sibling. Prices start from Dh173,000.
Porsche 718 Boxster
You won’t find a better handling car than the Boxster at any price. It sits at the lower end of Porsche’s model line-up, but this mid-engined roadster is no less enjoyable to drive than a 911 Turbo costing almost three times as much.
The entry-level 718 Boxster has a 300hp 2.0-litre turbo engine, while the "S" model gets a 2.5-litre unit with 350hp. The latter sprints from 0-100kph in 4.6 seconds (4.2 seconds with Sport Chrono package) and hits 285kph flat out. Prices start from Dh238,300.