In this life, few activities bring as much pleasure as driving a Convertible on a perfectly temperate day in wonderfully verdant surroundings. In fact, this is precisely what the convertible was invented for. Further, in a convertible one can both see and be seen. And yes, this too, is part of the allure. This is why pretty much every convertible you’ve ever seen has been so exquisitely beautiful. Of course, we’re talking here about the best full size convertibles, which by their very nature mean they are also grand touring automobiles. As if the folding roof wasn’t enough to make your day, they also have powerful engines, exceptional handling, and more than a smidgen of comfort and convenience features. In other words, when you cruise in one of the best full size convertibles, you won’t need anyone to tell you to have a nice day—it’s already locked in.
Aston Martin Vanquish Volante
When it comes to grand touring, excuse us, Grand Touring, few of the best full size convertibles rival the Aston Martin Vanquish Volante. The flagship model of a flagship brand, the hand-built Vanquish Volante is the very personification of style, sophistication, and performance. First of all, the look of the Vanquish will stop anyone in their tracks, whether they care about cars or not. The absolute opulence of the Aston is plainly evident to all passersby. Then of course there’s the 6.0-liter V12, which produces 568 horsepower and 465 ft-lbs of torque, which propels the rear-drive convertible to 60 in 3.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 197 miles per hour. Pricing starts at $300,820.
Bentley Continental GTC
As if sheer size were not imposing enough, the Bentley Continental GTC marries incredibly powerful engines and all-wheel drive with the opulence of a hand-made English interior (which means lustrous woods, wool carpeting, chrome switchgear, and sensuously supple leathers). Offered with a choice of three engines, the Bentley Continental GTC powertrain lineup starts with a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 good for 500 horsepower and 487 ft-lbs of torque. The next step up is the V8 S with the 4.0-liter modified to produce 521 horsepower and 502 ft-lbs. In the 12-cylinder range there’s the twin turbocharged 6.0-liter with 582 horsepower and 531 ft-lbs. And at the pinnacle, there’s the GT Speed, housing a twin-turbo 12 good for 626 horsepower and 605 ft-lbs of torque. Pricing starts at $198,925.
A bit more down to earth, the Audi A5/S5/RS 5 triumvirate is also fitted with all-wheel drive. Power for the A5 comes from Audi’s 220-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four with 258 ft-lbs of torque. This engine gets an eight-speed automatic as standard equipment. For the S5, Audi supplants the 2.0-liter with a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 good for 333 horsepower and 325 ft-lbs of torque. This engine is teamed with a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission. The Audi RS 5 Convertible gets a 450-horsepower, 4.2-liter V8 with 316 ft-lbs of torque and the seven-speed automated manual transmission. Beautifully styled and sumptuously equipped, pricing starts at $47,600.
Audi R8 Spyder
The mid-engined exotic sports car on our list of the best full size convertibles is offered with two powertrain choices. The V8 version of the Audi Spyder mid-engine exotic sports car uses a 4.2-liter powerplant with 430 horsepower and 317 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is provided as standard equipment; while a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission is offered as an option. The R8 V10 uses a 525-horsepower, 5.2-liter V10 with 391 ft-lbs of torque. The same transmission offerings apply. Combining a compelling blend of style, comfort, ease of use, and exceptional performance in one package; Audi’s R8 is a standout in its category. Audi R8 Spyder pricing starts at $129,400.
BMW 6 Series
Though the 6 Series was designed as a Coupe, the convertible looks so good with the top retracted; you know the car was also designed with the convertible in mind. The very epitome of prestige, the 6 Series BMW Convertible is easily one of the most handsome cars ever offered—even in the rarified company of the best full-size convertibles—BMW’s 6 Series Convertible reeks of style and good taste. Offered in three iterations, 640i, 650i, and M6. The former two both can be ordered with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, while the M6 is rear drive only. The 640i is powered by a 315-horsepower, turbocharged inline six-cylinder with 332 ft-lbs of torque. The 650i uses a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 with 445 horsepower and 480 ft-lbs of torque. The M6 gets 560 horsepower and 500 ft-lbs from the same basic engine. Pricing starts at $84,100.
There exists no production automobile capable of offering more performance for the money than the Chevrolet Corvette—period. Everything with similar levels of performance costs a whole lot more. If you genuinely love to drive, and you have the means, do yourself a favor and pick one up. You won’t be mad at yourself for doing it—ever. The Corvette Convertible’s 6.2-liter LT1 engine makes 455 horsepower and 460 ft-lbs of torque. The optional performance exhaust system raises output to 460 horsepower and 465 ft-lbs of torque. Additionally, for the first time ever, the Corvette Z06 is being offered with a convertible top. This version of the car makes 650 horsepower and 650 ft-lbs of torque from a supercharged 6.0-liter V8. Pricing starts at $59,995.
Ferrari California T
Truly a groundbreaking model for Ferrari, the California T embodies a number of firsts for the road cars of the storied Italian sports car manufacturer. Starting with the first front-engined Ferrari to house a V8 in its engine bay, the California is also the first front-engine Ferrari to feature a folding hardtop—giving it the versatility of a coupe along with the cachet of a convertible. Further, it’s the first Ferrari model to employ a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. In any company you’d care to name, the California T is wicked fast, stunningly good looking, and marvelously upholstered. The rear-wheel-drive Ferrari California T is powered by a 553-horsepower, 3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8, which cranks out 557 ft.-lbs. of torque. The seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual with paddle shifters is the only available transmission. Pricing starts at $198,973.
A beautifully handling automobile, with a presence matched by few other cars, the Jaguar XK Convertible is nothing less than fabulous. Among the best full-size convertibles, it’s also very fast—regardless of the version of the car you choose. The Jaguar XK is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 producing 385 horsepower and 380 ft.-lbs. of torque. Rear-drive and a six-speed automatic are standard equipment. The XKR runs a supercharged version of the 5.0-liter, amplifying output to 510 horsepower and 461 ft.-lbs. of torque. The XKR-S gets 550 horsepower and 502 ft.-lbs. of torque from the supercharged 5.0-liter V8. Pricing starts at $92,575.
Maserati Gran Turismo Convertible
The cars named for the brothers Maserati have a racing heritage going all the way back to the early decades of the previous century. What’s more, the marque’s road cars have always been praised for their outstanding performance as well as their luxury and beauty. The Maserati on this list of the best full-size convertibles is achingly beautiful, gloriously indulging, and an absolute dream to drive. The power, handling, and deliciously seductive sounds of the car are quintessentially Italian. The Maserati Gran Turismo uses a 444-horsepower 4.7-liter V-8 with 376 ft-lbs of torque paired with a six-speed sequential shift gearbox. GT Sport and MC get 454 horsepower and 384 ft-lbs of torque. Pricing starts at $145,740.
Few cars offer the versatility of the Mercedes-Benz SL. Even among the best full size convertibles, the flexibility of the Mercedes SL makes it a true standout. Few other cars deliver in a manner commensurate to the Mercedes-Benz. On twisting mountain roads, the SL moves with the grace of a ballerina. You can dive into corners, late brake, turn in hard, accelerate with deliberate purpose, and the SL will fly toward the next corner with the alacrity of a car half its size and weight. And yet, the luxurious accommodations of the folding hardtop roadster rival even the most luxurious cars on this list. With engines ranging from a 329 horsepower V6 to a 621 horsepower V12 with 738 ft-lbs of torque, the SL never wants for power either. Pricing starts at $84,000.
Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead
Designed without compromise, Rolls-Royce motorcars certainly deserve their lofty reputation. At Rolls-Royce, the aim is to build nothing less than the best cars in the world. And yes, the best cars in the world mean very different things to different people. In this case, it means the finest materials, hand craftsmanship, outstanding comfort, competent handling, more than adequate performance potential, and a look capable of summing up and telegraphing all of those attributes with a single glance. When it comes to a discussion of the best full size convertibles, absolutely nothing else says luxury the way Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead does. Pricing starts at $474,600.