So much for the global economic crisis. Frankfurt 2012 has turned out to be one of the biggest events for new convertible cars for several years. A slew of new releases and concepts have given us so much to talk about we decided to do a round-up of all the news.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
Among the new car unveilings was this flagship convertible super car from Mercedes Benz. The SLS Roadster and coupé were developed side by side to ensure the best possible chassis for either option and the car marks the pinnacle of the brand’s design and technical values. Many will agree that although the Roadster misses out on the trick gulling doors it is the better looking of the two cars. The proportions seem to work better with such a long nose and certainly being open to the elements will make the whole experience more enjoyable.
A few extras have been released along-side the roadster including an optional AMG Ride Control adjustable suspension system. Mercedes SLS drivers can choose between Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus settings. There are also a new Blind-spot Warning System as well as a selection of new alloy wheels and paint finishes available.
Mercedes also had the new AMG version of their small roadster – the SLK55 AMG. The new, more aggressive design is matched by an upgraded 415 horsepower V8 engine.
Ferrari 458 Spider
The new drop-top Ferrari 458 Spider surprised us with its slick folding hardtop when the car was announced a couple of weeks ago. Now making as it makes its first public debut we can see the new car’s handsome proportions in the flesh.
The roof is an engineering masterpiece and appears to take nothing away from either looks or performance compared to the fixed roof Ferrari 458 Italia. Drivers can also enjoy the wailing V8 sound at full volume while knowing that the security of a solid roof is only a push-button away.
Bentley Continental GTC
The second generation Bentley Continental GTC has subtle changes throughout that together make the new car a substantial upgrade without looking much different to the previous model. The W12 engine remains the same but much of the exterior and interior have both been revised in keeping refined luxury of the other cars in the Continental range.
Like the previous car we expect the new Bentley Continental GTC to attract retired gentry and the nouveau riche in equal measure.
Alpina B6 Biturbo Convertible
BMW’s new 6-Series range is currently without an M car leaving the market open for Alpina to release a hot version of the BMW 650i Convertible. The B6 Biturbo bumps up the power of the 4.4 litre V8 by a full 100 horses to a healthy 507 hp thanks to a pair of turbo chargers. Of course the power output isn’t the only change there are quad exhaust pipes and the suspension and bodywork are also reworked to bring it all together. The show car was in Alpina’s traditional blue with trademark multi-spoke alloy wheels.
If the Alpina B6 just isn’t powerful enough for you then AC Schnitzer have a 540 hp performance focussed alternative based on the same car sitting on whopping 21 inch alloy wheels.
Wiesmann Roadster MF3 Final Edition
With BMW having dropped their 6-cylinder M engine from production in favour of more powerful V8s The MF3 variant of the Wiesmann Roadster is making its final curtain call. The last 18 cars (one for every year of the MF3s production lifetime) have been made into a Final Edition in collaboration with fashion house Sieger who have developed a unique colour scheme for each of the cars. The Wiesmann Roadster will continue in production with alternative power sources after the MF3 is discontinued.
Lancia Flavia Cabriolet
With Fiat Group brought in to rescue US giant Chrysler there have already been collaborations. So far American drivers are getting a taste of the compact but fun little Fiat 500 and in return Europeans are getting getting to try the Chrysler 200 Convertible rebadged as the Lancia Flavia Cabriolet. We can’t help but be a little disappointed. The original Flavia of the 1960s was a handsome luxury car with convertible and coupe versions developed by the legendary Pininfarina. There were even Zagato and Vignale editions. The new car is unlikely to boast such success but it does offer practical four seat convertible motoring and should make a popular rental car. The Lancia Flavia will be offered with the 2.4 litre four cylinder engine only.
On top of the new car releases there are also several convertible concept cars on display. Of note was the Land Rover DC100 Sport, the Tesla-like electric powered Toray T-Wave AR1 and Audi’s tandem seated light weight Urban Concept Spyder as well as a pair of unusual cars built on the VW Up! platform.
Overall it has been an amazing show. There was only one disappointment – the gorgeous new Jaguar C-X16 concept was released as predicted but turned out to be a coupe rather than a roadster. If all goes well though we’d expect to see a convertible version in the future.