The car industry may have seen better days but they’re still managing to develop some exciting new models for the next year. We take a look into our crystal ball to see what we can expect.
The retro styled Fiat 500 C is already an iconic car but the convertible will take it a step further. The chic style of the 500C closely reflects the classic Nuova 500 from 1957. The Fiat’s electrically operated top brings the design up to date with a glass window and built-in center high mounted brake light. The three of the best powerplants have been passed on from the hardtop version: the 1.3 litre 75 HP Multijet turbo diesel with 5-speed manual transmission and the two 1.2 litre 69 HP and 1.4 liter 100 HP petrol engines, available with either manual or automatic Dualogic transmission.
Likely to be the car to be seen in around Europe in 2009.
Aston Martin DBS Volante
James Bond will be getting a tan this summer if Q orders the convertible version of the car featured in his last two movies.
Aston Martin top their range with their 16th convertible model. The DBS Volante aims to combine supercar performance with the thrills of open-air motoring. Performance from the V12 will be something special but we will have to wait to find out if it drives as well as the coupe.
Jaguar XK and XKR update
Jaguar’s luxury coupes receive a thorough update for 2009. On the outside there are few changes bar the rather unnecessary gills either side of the front bumper. Inside it’s good news with features borrowed from the stunning XF, however the best enhancements are under the skin. The new 5.0-litre V8 (up from 4.2) is fractionally smaller than before and weighs almost the same but boasts power increases of around 80bhp for each model. Along with the added power, the engineers have tweaked the Jaguar’s chassis and added adaptive suspension to make the XK a better drive than ever before.
Audi A5 Cabriolet
New to the Audi range is the cabriolet version of the sleek new A5 Coupe. Unlike offerings from BMW and Volvo it features a trim fabric roof which suits the car but leaves it looking more like the A4 it replaces. The chassis is stiff and wobble free allowing the more powerful engines to do their stuff. As with other Audis drive is smooth and capable if a little uninvolving. A worthy successor to the popular A4 Cabriolet but an evolution rather than a revolution.
2009 will also see Audi S5 and RS5 Cabriolet models.
2009 BMW Z4
BMW’s all new Z4 looks like a stunning proposition. Gone are the days when a roadster meant minimal creature comforts; the new Z4 is certainly not short of luxuries and for the first time features a folding hardtop. The elegant lines are easier on the eye than the previous model without loosing its aggressive stance. With BMW’s track record we can expect it to be a rewarding drive too.
Initially there will be three 6 cylinder engines to choose from which may be joined by more economical options later in the year. Sadly an M version of this car is not believed viable at the moment.
Peugeot 308 CC
The long awaited 308CC takes its place as the latest model by the most popular producer of hardtop convertibles. The 307CC has been a class leader for some time and the 308CC builds on its success. It’s a fun yet practical car with a more upmarket feel than the average Peugeot although the price reflects this. It’s bigger than the old car but there’s still not enough room in the back seats for two adults to travel comfortably. The dramatic styling should be a hit but the handling although capable isn’t as sporty as the styling suggests.
Finally convertible drivers get the improvements of the latest MINI engineering. The all new car may look much like the old MINI but there’s new engines and a more capable chassis. Visually the biggest difference is the hidden away roll hoops which will certainly improve rear visibility. The driving experience is improved by increased grip and stability but the bigger wheels can make the going a little jarring. The new MINI is great fun to drive and yet considerably more economical than the previous model thanks to BMW’s Efficient Dynamics technology.
Lexus IS 250C and IS 350C
With a three-piece folding aluminium hardtop that disappears from view in a record 20 seconds, the Lexus IS Convertible is the latest premium four seat convertible to grace our roads. Although it shares the smooth 205bhp, 2.5-litre V6 petrol engine and six-speed automatic transmission with the IS 250 saloon, much of the rest of the car has been redesigned to fit in the new roof and give generally more athletic lines.
Equipment levels are impressive and despite the folding hardtop the luggage space remains ample thanks to a 50mm increase on the rear overhang. It undercuts both its contemporaries from BMW and Infiniti but can’t match their handling.
Several other cars have been undergoing testing and may be close to release but launch dates are yet to be released:
Alfa Romeo Mito Convertible – Drop top version of fun the supermini
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet – Smaller and cheaper than CLK
Infiniti G37 Convertible – Nissan’s premium brand breaks into Europe
Nissan 370Z Roadster – An updated version of the 350Z
Maserati GranTurismo Spider – Long awaited folding hardtop of the GT