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Our pick of the convertibles

Mazda MX-5
From $42,870

NOW in its third generation, and with a hardtop option, this the car that revived the roadster. It looks good, drives like a go-kart and has loads of zip. The interior is well designed, and even tall people have plenty of legroom. The manual transmission is close and the suspension firm. Sporty steering and enthusiastic acceleration from the two-litre four will have you heading for the hills.

BEST ACCESSORY: A mountain-road map


Jaguar XK

A REVIVED sense of Jaguar style is complemented by a 4.2-litre V8 with a heartful of attitude, and a paddle- shift sequential six-speed gearbox that leaves the old J-gate for dead. It's billed as two-plus-two, but the backseats just can't be taken seriously — consider them a deterrent to the barrage of requests for a ride.

BEST COLOUR: Gunmetal grey
BEST ACCESSORY: A silver-service picnic hamper


Holden Tigra

ODDLY for a car aimed wholly and unapologetically at young women, the Tigra lacks an auto option. But if the young lady can stand shifting for herself, she'll love this cute two-seater. With competent dynamics and excellent packaging, it's a good alternative to the harder, more focused Mazda MX-5.

BEST COLOUR: Lipstick red
BEST ACCESSORY: Your bestest gal pal


Volkswagen Eos
From $47,990

ALTHOUGH options soon shoot the long-awaited four-seat CC past the $60K mark, this VeeWee's value is as hard to fault as its performance. With four-cylinder turbo diesel or turbo petrol engines to choose from, you can get where you want on the back of a mighty wave of torque, or rev high and mighty like a GTI. The only "problem" is that it arguably looks even better when the wonderful metal-and-glass folding roof is up.

BEST ACCESSORY: Just about anything you care to carry


Porsche 911

THE yardstick by which other sports cars are measured. Its potent engine gets you to 100km/h in around five seconds, with pin-sharp steering, athletic handling and a delicious noise. It could do with more room in the back, and the fuel tank could be bigger too. But these are minor niggles dismissed by true fans.

BEST ACCESSORY: An IWC Portuguese watch


Mercedes-Benz SLK350
From $110,900

ELEGANT styling and the practicality of a hardtop that, although heavy, hasn't damaged the power-to-weight ratio too much. A muscular 3.5-litre V6 engine that offers slingshot acceleration, plus point-and-shoot steering and tremendous grip,result in a thrilling drive. The cabin is snug, but it's also very comfortable and kitted out in signature Merc style. The COMAND system control interface, however, is needlessly complicated until you master it.

BEST ACCESSORY: A Prada briefcase


Nissan 350Z Roadster

MORE retro cues here in Nissan's reincarnation of the legendary Z-car, with 1970s lines from the 240Z matched with an enthusiastic and refined 3.5-litre V6. Agile handling and a ride that sits perfectly between firm and compliant make up fora sometimes unforgiving manual transmission.



Ferrari F430 Spider

WITH a chunky V8 sitting in the middle of its chiselled body, the F430 is an aerodynamic marvel with exceptional handling. Much of the design has been borrowed from the race shed, and extensive use of aluminium helps with weight distribution and lowers the centre of gravity.

It will rocket to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds and to a top speed of 305km/h. And even just sitting at the lights, it will send all the attention your way. Sex on wheels, really.

BEST COLOUR: Need you ask? Red
BEST ACCESSORY: A smug smile

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