BMW 3-Series Convertible Ambleside
BMW 3-Series Convertible
Why it won...
With the Roadster award reinstated this year, our Convertible prize would go to the best four-seater drop-top in the eyes of our judges. That ruled out the 2008 victor – the Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupé – and opened the door for the folding hard-top 3-Series to claim a thoroughly deserved victory.
What makes the BMW so compelling? Not only is build quality as impressive as we have come to expect from the company, but refinement is superb when the model’s folding metal roof is in place. Plus, the clever system is much more than just a nifty party trick. The three-piece set-up is one of the most compact designs on the market, and gives obvious benefits for passenger and luggage space alike. It doesn’t demand many cosmetic sacrifices, either, so whether the top is up or down, the Convertible looks just as good as its saloon and coupé stablemates.
Hit a button on the dashboard and the canopy retracts in a mere 22 seconds, while on the move the car feels incredibly rigid, with none of the flex that used to be a hallmark of big drop-top models. Of course, the standard 3-Series is famed for its sharp-handling rear-wheel-drive chassis, and the Convertible is no different.
It leaves the competition trailing with its agility, grip and balance, while the engine range includes BMW’s potent petrol and diesel units. The flagship M3 is even available in Convertible guise, and blends the brute power of the 414bhp V8 engine with wind-in-the-hair thrills. So, whether your priority is exhilarating straight-line pace or strong fuel economy, there is a 3-Series Convertible to suit you.
Audi A5 Cabriolet
While its rivals have switched to folding metal hard-tops, Audi has persisted with fabric hoods for its convertible models – and the A5 reaps the rewards. It’s more of a boulevard cruiser than a sporty cabrio, although it’s impressively refined with the roof up. Plus, the compact layout of the soft-top means there’s plenty of room in the cabin and boot when it’s folded.