April 19, 2012 | by Joe Phillips
A-list convertibles

You don’t have to be an A-gay to appreciate A-list convertibles. You just have to like slick styling, chic cabins and punchy power.

And you have to lay down some serious coin. None of the beauties below is inexpensive. But like Prada and Manolo, they make a statement. That’s a big plus when you want to up your game, whether at a swanky soiree, the office or the beach.

Audi A5

Audi A5
$42,500
Mpg: 22 city/30 highway
0-to-60 mph: 6.3 seconds
Top lowers in 15 seconds

If you’re looking for the fun of, say, a VW Eos but with more cachet, then an A5 fits the bill. As with all the roadsters here, this one only comes in a soft top. But that makes the A5 lightweight, which translates into better handling and acceleration. It also takes up less trunk space than hardtop rivals, and that extra room was a big plus during some recent treks to Home Depot. Sure, the cabin was noisier, but not by much. Three trim levels, though all include automatic climate control, automatic wipers, 10-speaker audio and a wind deflector when the top is down. There’s also a choice of two- or four-wheel drive. Must-have options: blind-spot warning system, special heating for your head and neck (a big plus during chilly mornings) and adaptive cruise control. Sprinting from 0 to 60 mph — which is actually faster in the automatic than in the manual — took just 6.3 seconds.

BMW 650i
$81,500
Mpg: 16 city/24 highway
0-to-60 mph: 5.0 seconds
Top lowers in 20 seconds

BMW 650i

My plan for test-driving the 650i was to amble aimlessly down country lanes or cruise along a sparsely traveled parkway. Alas, a last-minute scheduling change punctured that balloon and meant skirting between construction sites and semis on the way to New York. But such roadway mayhem brought out the best in this Bimmer, as it outmaneuvered a plethora of potholes and quite a few kamikaze taxis in Manhattan. The 650i has been completely redesigned. For a heavy car (4,200 pounds), the braking was excellent — precise but not jarring. Same with the power, thanks to the 400-hp twin-turbo V8 and a seamless eight-speed automatic transmission. Both the rear-wheel drive and 20-inch wheels gave the 650i a sure, grippy feel. And it was easy being pampered with 16-way seats, power-folding side mirrors and a premium 16-speaker Bang & Olufson audio (one of the best sound systems in any vehicle ever). Side- and top-view cameras mean you don’t need to turn your head when backing up, and a park-assist function can parallel park the car automatically. Such options quickly up the price to, yikes, $105,000. But at least this is one vehicle that valets fight over to drive, so you never wait in line.

Jaguar XK
$90,500
Mpg: 16 city/22 highway
0-to-60 mph: 5.0 seconds
Top lowers in 18 seconds

For the best in old-school luxury, it’s hard to beat a Jag. The sleek XK could double as an Aston Martin yet costs half as much. The luxe cabin gets lots of top-drawer updates, including heated/cooled seats, heated steering wheel and a large touch-screen nav system. The XK now has front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. After knocking about in the XK for a week, it turned out to be a dashing yet drama-free ride.

 

 

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