We were recently in Key Biscayne, Fla. for the second-annual Topless in Miami event, and while only five cars took home a fancy trophy, we decided to take it a step further to name our overall favorites from the entire event. Instead of breaking down the convertibles into the five award categories, we decided to look at the coolest convertibles for summer as seen at this unique event. From six-figure sports cars to some of the most iconic drop-tops ever produced, these cars were definitely the cool convertibles of Topless in Miami.
Out of all the cars making a repeat appearance from last year's inaugural Topless in Miami, the Fiat 500 Cabrio was the only car to be a repeat winner in this year's event as the Best Small Convertible of the Year. For the 2012 event, Fiat brought the decked out 500 Cabrio by Gucci to Key Biscayne which adds a little more fashion and glamour to this subcompact's already-impressive styling. The most unique element of the Fiat 500C by Gucci is the red and green stripes on the sliding convertible top and the passenger seats. The Fiat 500C is definitely a cool convertible due to its unique cloth top that gives the car the open-air feeling of a true convertible without losing the rigidity of a coupe. The Fiat 500 has been a great car for Chrysler since it went on sale, and the new Gucci-branded model is a fabulous addition.
The 2012 Audi TT is offered in the 265-horsepower TTS model or as a ballistic missile in TT-RS (coupe-only) guise with 360-hp, but for the Topless in Miami event, we tested the base TT Roadster with its 211-hp output. In terms of lifespan, the TT was actually one of the oldest cars at this event having been on the market since 2008, but the compact dimensions, excellent proportions and unique styling have kept this car surprisingly fresh. Like many of the other small roadsters at this event, the Audi TT Roadster is definitely a cool convertible thanks to its incredible power-to-weight ratio that makes it fun to drive in a straight line or through twisting corners.
The only car to attend the Topless in Miami event with a manual top was the 2012 MINI Cooper S Roadster, but that didn't make this car any less of a cool convertible. Ditching the rear seat and adding a slightly cooler styling, the MINI Cooper S Roadster was probably one of the most fun-to-drive cars at the 2012 Topless in Miami event. Being a Cooper S, this MINI Roadster puts out 181 horsepower giving it great acceleration, but the car also comes with a performance suspension, driver-selectable sport mode and plenty of other features that are sure to put a smile on the driver's face. Our favorite part of driving this cool convertible with the top down was listening to the throaty exhaust note while accelerating and watching the active rear spoiler rise automatically at 50 miles per hour.
From the day it hit the streets in 1964, the Ford Mustang has been one of the coolest convertibles ever built, and the 2013 model year brings a whole new level of coolness to this American icon. Topless in Miami 2012 only saw the Mustang V-6 on hand, but the 2013 Mustang Convertible can be had in GT and the beastly GT 500 versions as well - the latter producing 662 horsepower! The 2013 Ford Mustang we drove was in the new Gotta Have It Green exterior color which may have lost a few cool points with some of the drivers, but the base car's 305 horsepower and the aggressive new styling keep the Mustang as a really cool convertible.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata has made a reputation for being one of the most fun-to drive cars ever built, and the all-new Special Edition model helps this cool little convertible become even a little bit cooler. Like the Jaguar XKR-S (yes, we're comparing a Miata to a Jaguar), the highlight of the 2012 Miata Special Edition is its styling changes and exclusivity. Only 450 of these Special Edition cars are being sold in the U.S., and they are all easily distinguishable thanks to limited colors (red and white) and a blacked-out treatment on the wheels, roof and door mirrors. This marks the first time since the Miata Power Retractable Hard Top was launched in the U.S. that the roof color doesn't match the body color. Of course, the Miata's small size and peppy engine still make this car an absolute blast to drive!
One of the most rugged convertibles on the planet, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited has plenty of cool factor built into it with its removable doors, windshield and top. The go-anywhere capability of the Jeep Wrangler is only outdone by how cool is to drive such an open vehicle. While Jeep kept its doors on for the Topless in Miami event, the feeling you get when driving a Wrangler with the top and all four doors off makes it one of the coolest convertibles available. The recent addition of the lauded Pentastar V-6 gives the Jeep Wrangler more power and better fuel economy, and an upgraded interior makes for a better cabin experience. The best part of a Jeep Wrangler is that this truck is just as much fun to drive on a muddy off-road trail as it is to drive through Key Biscayne's quaint downtown.
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster was definitely the favorite vehicle of the Topless in Miami event bringing home the top trophy for 2012 Convertible of the Year, but on the cool convertible scale, it came in at just number three. While the SLS Roadster loses some of the Gullwing's coolness with its soft top, there is nothing lost in transition on the performance side. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster gains less than 100 pounds in curb weight compared to its Gullwing counterpart, and it keeps the 6.3-liter V-8 that pumps out 563 horsepower making it the most powerful car at the event. Aside from the lightning-fast acceleration, the SLS Roadster just looks awesome in motion with its long hood and smoothly rounded rear end.
Mercedes-Benz showed up in force at this year's Topless in Miami with a trio of cool convertibles, but our favorite, by far, was the small rocket ship otherwise known as the Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG. Weighing in at around 3,500 pounds, the new SLK55 AMG produces 415 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque giving it excellent acceleration. The retractable hard top makes the car quiet when it is up, but put the top down and you have a better chance of enjoying the V-8 engine's rumble. Like the car itself, the SLK55's roof is pretty quick closing in just 18 seconds, and when it's up, drivers with the optional Magic Sky Control panoramic roof can seamlessly switch between a transparent and opaque roof at the push of a button.
When it comes to cool convertibles, what isn't to love about the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S Convertible? Limited production, awesome performance and killer styling... yes, this car has it all. There are many low-volume convertibles on the market, but the Jaguar XKR-S Convertible only had 25 units shipped to the U.S., and all of them sold out. In a city where Lamborghinis and Ferraris can be seen at almost any valet stand, driving such a unique car in Miami was definitely a cool feeling, and this helped the car take home the award for Best Luxury Convertible of the Year. If that was enough, though, this growling Jaguar also brings plenty of performance to the table with a supercharged V-8 producing 550 horsepower which is good enough to propel the car to 60 miles per hour from a dead stop in just 4.2 seconds up to an eventual top speed of 186 mph.
See the list of the winners of Topless in Miami chosen by Southern Automotive Media Association members.