The convertible car industry will make a major resurgence in 2013; shaking off the last traces of global recession with a host of new cars. Many of these have already been previewed at auto shows around the world while others have been spotted during their development programmes.
There is a sizeable list of 2013 convertibles that we are sure to see during the year followed by a few more that we hope to see but may not make it until 2014. As usual in this annual article we finish off with some speculation for the future of convertibles into 2014 and beyond.
Aston Martin Vanquish Volante
The new Aston Martin Vanquish was unveiled in 2012 and is due to go on sale in the final weeks of the same year while a convertible Vanquish Volante should follow it in 2013. The top of the range convertible takes on the same name as the last Newport Pagnell built car but this is a development of the modern DB9 platform. Design cues come from The One-77 hyper-car but underneath it is more of an evolution of the DBS that came before it. Never the less it is a considerable step forward. The test car has been spotted in its final stages and it should be ready to launch by the time the Geneva motor show comes around in March.
Audi RS5 Cabriolet
The latest Audi RS5 gets the cabriolet version back for 2013. There is some serious performance available from the 445 bhp V8 engine and of course being an Audi four-wheel-drive comes as standard. The fabric roof can be operated in just 15 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph – useful if the lights change when you’re half way through.
Citroen DS3 Cabrio
Citroen make steps to tackle the small convertible car market with their new DS3 Cabrio. The design uses a similar roof to competitor Fiat 500C to keep the chassis stiff while letting the sunshine in. The door frames stay in place while the fabric roof rolls back behind the rear seats. This means that the weight is only 25kg more than the standard hatchback. Befitting the funky DS3 Citroen supply the roof in a choice of 3 designs including an unusual branded version.
Corvette C7 Convertible
The Corvette C7 Convertible is the biggest development of the car to come from the brand for many years. The C5 and C6 brought the Corvette up to date as a car that handles as well as it goes but the last major change was seven years ago now and the new C7 will aim to return the brand to its place as America’s sports car. The styling should be brought up to date and the interior considerably improved, bring ing it closer to competitors from Porsche and BMW. underneath, the 13 year old front-engined Y platform remains but it will be updated with new technology to improve handling. A smaller, more efficient engine may be used but don’t expect any drop in power from the out-going C6. Sadly the styling doesn’t look to be as exciting as the concept seen on the concept used in the second Transformers movie.
Volkswagen Beetle Cabrio
The 2013 VW Beetle Cabriolet will complete the range of the new shape car. Without the roof the convertible Beetle looks less different to the previous model than the hardtop does but there are still some major changes. The interior is redesigned as is the roof which folds down in just 10 seconds. The VW promises our seat comfort and practical luggage space with a split, folding rear bench seat. The new Beetle Cabrio comes with a wide range of engine and trim options and should be available in Europe and America from Spring 2013.
The Jaguar F-Type Roadster promises to be the car to own in 2013. The new sports car comes with a choice of V6 or V8 engines and has the looks to make a mark in the performance luxury sports car sector. While everything says that this is the new E-Type the F-Type is far more of a luxury product than its revolutionary, race bred descendant. The chassis is based on the older XK and the body panels are aluminium to cut down the weight. The roof is a traditional fabric construction which folds down in 12 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph. So far the Jaguar F-Type specification includes the excellent ZF 8 speed transmission but no manual option which in a time when even Cadillac offer a manual option seems like an oversight.
Lamborghini Aventador Roadster
At the pinnacle of the Italian brand’s range, the Lamborghini Aventador Roadster is as impressive visually as it is on the road. While it may not be as much of a handful as previous models it follows Lamborghini tradition in being exceptionally exotic in every way. With a top speed of 217 mph and a 0-60 mph time under 3 seconds the V12 hyper car earns its place lining the walls of boys bedrooms around the world. The carbon fibre roof is easily manually removed unlike previous cars which could be a time consuming job. Probably the fastest of all 2013 convertible cars.
McLaren MP4-12C Spider
While the McLaren P1 is grabbing all the headlines the considerably cheaper (and yet unaffordable to all but a few) 12C Spider is the car we are more likely to ever see on the road. With its clever folding hardtop the convertible McLaren looks even better than the coupe with the roof down or up and the performance isn’t dented either. It really removes any reason why anyone should buy the coupe version. The biggest problem people have with it is that Mclaren has approached production car design in the same way as it does race cars – it aims to be a little better than the Ferrari equivalent in every way rather than going its own way.
2014 Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet
A refreshed Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet is to be released as a 2013 convertible car with a revised front end including one piece headlights. A new rear bumper and rear light clusters will also be among the changes. Overall the design will have smoother, less angular lines.
Porsche 918 Spyder
We may have predicted this car two years ago but 2013 really will be the year of the Porsche 918. The sheer quantity of new innovation in this car has delayed production of this technical tour-de-force. The Porsche 918 Spyder represents the sports car of the future with both incredible performance and the efficiency of a hybrid powerplant.
Vauxhall claimed the Cascada as their own before it launched and are clearly proud that this new car was designed in Britain however it is a global car for General Motors which will be sold under several brands in different countries around the world. In Britain it will be a Vauxhall while in mainland Europe it will be an Opel. It may well gain a Buick badge before too long as well. The Cascada is a step up in both size and luxury compared to the convertible Astra TwinTop that it replaces in Europe. The full size fabric roof covers a four seat interior which aims to be spacious enough for 4 adults.
The following cars are a little more speculative. There is a possibility that they will be released as 2013 convertible cars, however not enough is known at the time of writing to give a sure prediction.
Audi A3 Convertible
An all-new Audi A3 Convertible has been spotted undergoing testing. Although heavily disguised the car clearly breaks away from the current hatchback style with a silhouette closer to the BMW 1 Series Convertible. The new soft-top Audi A3 should fill the gap as a smaller car than the A5 Cabriolet. The more premium versions (including an S3 variant) may use Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Bentley Mulsanne Convertible
Bentley displayed a handsome concept to a select group of customers at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance event in California in 2012 to receive feedback on market demand for a high-end convertible car. Based on the Bentley Mulsanne saloon it is claimed to be the world’s most elegant and luxurious convertible car, eclipsing even the Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead. The cabin aims to seat four adults and is covered by a fabric soft-top.
The all new Kia Soul hardtop will be released in January of 2013 and for this generation there will be some alternative body styles to the boxy hatchback. The Convertible is expected to be along the lines of the Kia Soul’ster concept (pictured) first seen in Detroit in 2009. The drop-top would be aimed at the American market where the previous generation Soul has proved a success with younger drivers. The combination of unique looks and competitive pricing should make a convertible Kia Soul attractive to this key market.
Rolls-Royce Ghost Convertible
Rolls-Royce and their owners BMW have been considering variants on the Ghost platform for some time and a convertible version potentially named the Rolls-Royce Corniche would fit in the range below the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe.
Toyota GT 86 Roadster
The sports car jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru should get a roadster variant unveiled in 2013 for launch in 2013. So far only speculative renderings of the car have been seen but it has the potential to challenge the evergreen Mazda MX-5 Roadster.
Convertible Cars for 2014 and Beyond
Alfa Romeo 4C Roadster
A convertible version of the Alfa Romeo 4C is likely to come perhaps a year after the coupe is launched in March 2013 at the Geneva Show. The 4C is a small mid-engined sports car powered by a turbo-charged 4 cylinder petrol engine producing around 300 bhp. Alfa also plan to build a roadster based on the same platform as the next generation Mazda MX-5 and it is possible that these two models will converge.
2014 Audi TT Roadster
2014 should see a new shape Audi TT sports car which should push the model further upmarket with improved performance and refinement. Based on the latest generation VW Golf and Audi A3 component set the TT Roadster should shed lose some weight and improve interior space.
BMW 2-Series Convertible
BMW are rearranging their naming structure in 2013 with the 1-Series Coupe and Convertible being re-branded as 2-Series. The Convertible will be unveiled in 2013 but may not be available until 2014 and should be visually different to the 1-Series Hatchbacks. The name change will help to position these models as premium cars with a little more glamour than the family orientated 1-Series. We expect this car to continue with a fabric soft-top roof.
BMW 4 Series Convertible
Like the 1-Series the BMW 3-Series will be divided to allow the coupe and convertible to become a new 4-Series. The BMW 4-Series Convertible will feature a folding hardtop roof. Like the 2-Series the Convertible 4 will be available in Spring 2014 after a late 2013 launch.
Cadillac have been making noises about a new convertible. Potentially the new car could be based on the new Corvette in the same way as the earlier XLR. It could just as likely however be based on the 2013 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe. We’ll be prying further over the coming months to see what the American luxury car maker has in mind.
Daihatsu D-R Roadster
Daihatsu continue to be interested in producing a small Roadster along the lines of the discontinued Copen. The Daihatsu D-R Roadster Concept seen in 2012 looked like a realistic car for potential production and could arrive as soon as 2014.
Hyundai Veloster C3
Hyundai displayed the Veloster C3 as a concept in 2012 but it looked remarkably well finished and a very realistic production car. The folding fabric roof featured a unique electric mechanism allowing it to be opened either forwards or backwards to make this a very versatile lifestyle car.
Jaguar XK Roadster
With the Jaguar F-Type released in 2013 the Jaguar XK Roadster is starting to show its age and the price difference puts the two cars in a similar market. The solution is to develop a new Jaguar XK with yet more power and luxury at a higher price point. It pushes the XK ever closer to Aston Martin and Bentley territory so this new Jaguar convertible will really have to prove its worth.
Lamborghini Gallardo replacement
The Gallardo has been in production since 2003 and with new competitors from Ferrari and McLaren is beginning to show its age. Little is known of the cars replacement however it will feature all-wheel-drive and a 600 horsepower engine.
Lexus LF-CC Convertible
The Lexus LF-CC concept seen in Paris 2012 in coupe form has been given the go ahead for production and will almost certainly include a convertible variant. The design is more handsome than mostly bland Lexus cars that have come before and will use the new rear-wheel drive chassis architecture. Power options may include a hybrid system which would be a first for a convertible car.
2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata
The next generation Mazda MX-5 Miata developed in partnership with Alfa Romeo should offer a light weight, performance focussed chassis. The potential of Italian style and passion married to Japanese build quality and reliability is heady mix that promises a great new car.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet
The next generation Mercedes C-Class range should include a convertible model to compete with BMW and Audi. Mercedes will keep the model compact so as not to cut into the market of the larger E-Class Convertible. The C-Class saloon should debut in 2013 so expect to see the cabriolet following a year later.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet
While the idea of a Mercedes S-Class Convertible has been around for several years since the four-door Ocean Drive Concept was revealed, heavily disguised test cars have been spotted during 2012 that reveal a car is undergoing development. The test car has two doors and the sweeping bodywork show that it will be a larger, more roomy car than the Mercedes E-Class. It will take on the high quality interior trimmings of the next generation S-Class along with the latest Mercedes technology including ‘Magic Ride’ suspension which uses cameras to detect the road surface and adjust the air-suspension accordingly.
Horacio Pagani has already declared that there will be a convertible version of the Huayra hyper car however he did say that it may take around three years to reach this point so it may be 2015 by the time we see it. The bi-turbo V12 powered Pagani Huayra is highly regarded both for its exceptional performance and the beautiful craftsmanship in its design and construction.
Range Rover Evoque Convertible
One of the more unusual concepts of recent years has been the Range Rover Evoque Convertible. It does successfully fill a niche however and although unlikely to be making many trips off-road it is likely to be popular. Range Rover produced the concept to gauge public opinion which on the whole seemed to be positive so we would hope to see the smart set wafting around in convertible Range Rovers soon.