The Ten Fastest Convertibles (plus two): Intro
A high performance fast convertible is probably one of the most luxuriously impractical automotive purchases anyone can ever make. After all, for many enthusiastic drivers, an exceptionally powerful engine is just as much of a luxury as lamb’s wool carpeting, a nineteen-speaker stereo system, or a suede headliner.
When ultra-high performance is combined with the ultimate in devil-may-care motoring—a convertible roof—being seen in a truly fast droptop says to the world; “Yeah, I have money to burn, and check me out y’all, I’m burning it faster than you can earn it, right now.”
You see, a convertible is the most impractical choice of what many would consider the most impractical type of car.
Think about it, if you really wanted the ultimate top speed model of any given car, just to have the ultimate top speed version of the car, you’d buy the hardtop iteration of that car. After all, logic would render the soft top a diametrically opposed choice if ultimate performance were the primary goal. Convertible roofs inherently induce more drag into a given design, making that model slower than its hardtop counterpart. Plus, anyone who has ever driven a convertible with the top down at over 100 miles per hour will tell you there are a lot quieter and more comfortable ways to get from Atlanta to Boston. In a convertible, wind buffeting at triple digit speeds, even with the windows up and a wind blocker in place can be quite extraordinary.
Assuming, of course you care one whit about practicality.
With that said, and given all the cars on this list of the 10 fastest convertibles are easily capable of exceeding 150 miles per hour (many of them even approach 200), odds are they won’t do it often. Thus, a super high performance convertible represents the ultimate in impracticality and therefore luxury. Insanely expensive, outrageously capable and seldom employed to its true potential; if that doesn’t describe an ultimate luxury item, please tell us what does?
The Ten Fastest Convertibles (plus two): Aston Martin DBS Ultimate Volante
Light car plus big engine equals huge performance. And, that is exactly the case with the Aston Martin DBS Ultimate Volante (Volante is convertible in Aston-speak). The open version of the top line “mainstream" Aston Martin, the DBS Volante is the storied marque’s most powerful convertible. Boasting 510 horsepower and 420 ft-lbs of torque from a 6.0-liter V12 engine, the Aston Martin DBS Volante is capable of a top speed in the range of 190 miles per hour—when fitted with a manual transmission. The Aston’s automatic transmission option limits the Ultimate DBS model’s terminal velocity to 185. Which, quite frankly, still qualifies it as one of the ten fastest convertibles.
The Ten Fastest Convertibles (plus two): Audi R8 GT 5.2 FSI Quattro Spyder
Something of an anomaly in the realm of hyper-exotic sports cars, the Audi R8 places no special demands upon its driver in order to derive maximum enjoyment from it. The Audi is almost laughably easy to drive, exceptionally comfortable and even boasts excellent outward visibility (when the top is lowered). The GT 5.2 FSI version of the R8 is a special lightweight edition of the sports car running a 560-horsepower version of the Lamborghini-sourced V10 engine, which also produces 398 ft-lbs of torque. A run to 60 from zero can be accomplished in 3.6 seconds according to Audi’s spokespeople. Top speed for the Audi R8 GT 5.2 FSI Quattro Spyder is quoted at 197 miles per hour.
The Ten Fastest Convertibles (plus two): Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible
Take every conceivable automotive luxury feature currently known to humankind, pack it into an outrageously large, handsome, upright, and formal all-wheel drive motorcar. Then, endow that distinctive-looking automobile with a six-speed automatic transmission fed by a 6.0-liter 12-cylinder engine producing some 621 horsepower and 590 ft-lbs of torque. Next, remove the roof and replace it with a hand-sewn multilayer woolen folding top and you’ll have yourself a Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible. Capable of a zero to 60 acceleration run in a quoted 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 204 miles per hour (with the roof deployed), the Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible is one exceptionally fast convertible car—as well as one of the fastest convertibles money can buy.
The Ten Fastest Convertibles (plus two): BMW M6 Convertible *
BMW’s M6 returns with 560 horsepower and 500 ft-lbs of torque for 2102, to qualify as one of the fastest convertibles of the year. This rear-drive coupe’s prodigious power comes courtesy of a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine feeding a seven-speed direct shift dual clutch transmission. The M6 Convertible's streak from zero to 60 takes place in 3.9 seconds and its top speed would easily approach the 200 miles per hour mark...if BMW's management team hadn’t chosen to limit the glamourous convertible's top speed to 155 miles per hour. Thus, the M6 Convertible appears here with an asterisk. While it is technically one of the ten fastest convertibles of 2012, BMW legal would have everyone believe otherwise.
The Ten Fastest Convertibles (plus two): Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse
Ladies and gentlemen, in the photographs over there to the right, you are looking at the world’s fastest convertible. The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse will accelerate from zero to 60 in 2.4 seconds. It is blessed with 8.0-liters of engine, 1,200 horsepower, 1,106 ft-lbs of torque, four turbochargers, 16 cylinders, four fuel pumps, a seven-speed auto clutch transmission, and all-wheel drive. Because of current tire technology, its top speed is electronically limited to 255 miles per hour with the top closed (233 with the roof open). It is estimated the top dog on our list of the 10 fastest convertibles is capable of 270+ miles per hour unlimited. While we’re discussing estimates, it’s been said the Bugatti will consume 26.4 gallons of fuel in eight minutes at full throttle.
The Ten Fastest Convertibles (plus two): Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible
The closest thing you can get to a Chevrolet Corvette Z06 convertible is the Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible. Technically a 2013 model, it is included here because it was introduced in 2012 as a 2013 model. The Z06-sourced 505-horsepower V8 winds to 7,000 rpm, displaces 7.0-liters, makes 470 ft-lbs of torque, and funnels it to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. An instant collectible, Chevrolet’s product spokespeople say the car will only be sold for one year. Reading between the lines, with an all-new Corvette coming for the 2014 model year, the 427 Convertible is sort of a last hurrah for the outgoing Corvette C6 model, in additon to being the fastest convertible Corvette ever. Zero to 60 happens in four seconds and the 427’s top speed is quoted at 190 miles per hour.
The Ten Fastest Convertibles (plus two): Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible *
Wondering if you just found a genuine 200-mile per hour Mustang? Well, yes and no. The 2013 Ford Shelby GT 500 Convertible (introduced in 2012) pumps out 662 horsepower and 631 ft-lbs of torque to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. The 5.8-liter V8 engine responsible for this is supercharged to within mere minutes of its life. Which is not to say the engine is unreliable, but rather the engine is under significant pressure. With this engine Ford claims the bragging rights (for now—at least) for building the most power production V8 ever offered for sale in a street car. This one also appears on our list of the ten fastest convertibles with an asterisk because while it is capable of topping 200 miles per hour, Ford has decided to limit the convertible to 155. If you want the full 200 miles per hour capability unleashed, you have to buy the closed coupe version of the car.
The Ten Fastest Convertibles (plus two): Ferrari 458 Italia Convertible
If you follow the model nomenclature Ferrari applies to its mid-engine sports cars, you already know the 458 Italia runs a 4.5-liter V8 engine (4-5-8). Out of that highly sophisticated powerplant screams some 562 horsepower and 398 ft-lbs of torque. That mechanical fury is transited to the rear wheels by way of a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission. According to Ferrari's spokespeople the Italia will accelerate to 60 in approximately 3.4 seconds and has a top speed approaching 195 miles per hour. The Ferrari's folding hardtop enables the Italia to function as both a coupe and a convertible, offering its owner the best of both worlds in one of the ten fastest convertibles for 2012.
The Ten Fastest Convertibles (plus two): Jaguar XKR-S Convertible
There was a time when the top speed of Jaguar’s grand touring sports car was limited by politics, rather than aerodynamics, physics, or the capability of the marque’s engineers. As a member of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, Jaguar was forced to reside in the shadow of its Aston Martin stablemate. (Can't have the less-expensive Jags outrunning the ultra-pricey Astons, now can we?) With the divestiture of all the premium European brands by Ford’s management team, Jaguar sports cars were at last permitted to come into their own and demonstrate their true potential. The fastest Jaguar currently available is the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S boasting 550 hp and 502 ft-lbs of torque from a 5.0-liter supercharged V8. With a zero to 60 time of 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 186 miles per hour, the Jaguar XKR-S easily claims a spot on our list of the fastest convertibles.
The Ten Fastest Convertibles (plus two): Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Spyder Performante
Benefitting mightily from its ownership by the Volkswagen Group, Automobili Lamborghini’s cars are more usable, more comfortable and more reliable than ever. Further, the product diversification permitted by the developmental money flowing forth from Lamborghini's corporate parent has enabled the storied Italian manufacturer to offer more versions of the Gallardo than anyone can shake a stick at. The ultimate open version of the baby Lambo is the Gallardo LP 570-4 Spyder Performante. Sporting a 5.7-liter V10 engine and all wheel drive, the hot open version of the littlest Lamborghini has 570 horsepower and 397 ft-lbs of torque at its disposal. This enables zero to 60 times in the low three second range and top speeds approaching 200 miles per hour—in addition to a spot on the list of the ten fastest convertibles for 2012.
The Ten Fastest Convertibles (plus two): Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG
A V12 Mercedes-Benz two-seat sports car is in and of itself a very special thing. When that V12 has been hand assembled by the wizards at AMG, it transcends “special” and is immediately vaulted into the extraordinary category. Try to wrap your head around the possibilities 621 horsepower and 738 ft-lbs of torque are capable of unleashing. The rear drive SL uses a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12, along with a seven-speed automatic transmission, enabling the driver to take control of that magnificent torque output in any fashion desired. Top speed is quoted at 186 miles per hour and the zero to 60 run is said to require 3.9 seconds of the admittedly rarified life of anyone capable of affording to own the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG—one of the fastest convertibles sold today.
The Ten Fastest Convertibles (plus two): Porsche 911 Turbo S Convertible
Force feed 530 horsepower and 516 ft-lbs of torque though an all-wheel drive powertrain by way of a seven-speed automated manual transmission, bolted into a open car weighing some 3600 pounds and you’ll undoubtedly get one of the fastest convertibles of 2012—or any model year for that matter. The Porsche 911 Turbo S is that car, taking advantage of a twin turbocharged 3.8-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine. Zero to 60 goes by in 3.2 seconds and top speed is quoted at 196 miles per hour.