The good life takes a turn for the better
The weather until this week has been uncommonly mild for January this year — only light snow flurries, if at all, and temperatures often well above the freezing point. Even then, the crop of luxury convertibles just unveiled at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit seemed somewhat incongruous.
Of course, the new soft-tops launched by Rolls-Royce and Mercedes-Benz are more Malibu than Michigan — likely buyers for the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé and the Mercedes-Benz Ocean Drive are Hollywood celebrities and other wealthy, warm weather residents.
Mercedes-Benz at least acknowledged the colder climate of Detroit by displaying the Ocean Drive on part of its stand that had been turned into an ice rink. The V12-engined car is basically a convertible version of the company's’ flagship S-Class sedan with a custom, coach-built body. It’s something Mercedes-Benz is actively considering, and it could be called CLC in the Merc range.
Rolls-Royce is definitely building the Phantom Drophead Coupé, and production will start at its Goodwood plant in England this the summer. The two-door, four-seat convertible is described as “a less formal interpretation of classic Rolls-Royce design.” It is derived from the 100EX concept car and uses an aluminum space-frame to give a combination of rigid bodyshell and low weight.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Chairman Ian Robertson told reporters: “The Drophead leads us in a more informal direction, attracting new buyers to the marque.” And he confirmed Rolls would expand its range: “In the coming years other new models will strengthen the company still further,” he added.
For those on a slightly lower budget, BMW’s new 3 Series Convertible made its debut. It’s the first BMW to have a retractable electric hardtop roof. When it arrives in Canadian dealer showrooms it will be available in two models: the elegant 328i powered by a 230 horsepower, 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine, and a more potent 335i model with a twin-turbocharged six producing 300 hp.