Let the sun shine.
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  1. #1
    XTC
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    Default Let the sun shine.

    Which ones have been spotted in the flesh down under ???

    http://drive.fairfax.com.au/cgi-bin/...XBYRIXYXD.html

    Let the sun shine
    By Tim Colquhoun
    The Sun-Herald
    Tuesday August 17 2004

    Car-makers are turning out convertibles that are practical as well as fun, so Tim Colquhoun rates the hottest models for summer.

    Winter seems to have become a non-event recently, with rain (mostly) a distant memory and the thermometer rarely dropping below double figures.

    With this in mind, car-makers are eager to bask in the good weather with a raft of new drop-tops.

    We say drop-tops, rather than soft-tops, because an increasing number of convertibles are available with folding metal roofs ideal for winter and year-round security.

    Major advances have been made in structural rigidity and waterproofing, making convertibles a fun, stylish, comfortable and flexible choice. This means convertibles with metal lids are, effectively, two cars in one.

    With the Citroen Pluriel (pictured above) and Mercedes-Benz SLK due to arrive in Australia next month, the Mini Cabriolet and Renault Megane CC set for a pre-Christmas launch and the Barina-based Holden Tigra (pictured below) in the frame for a local debut, Sunday Drive looks at five new convertibles that will tempt drivers willing to fry in the name of fashion.


    Holden Tigra

    While it hasn't been officially confirmed for Australia, the Tigra is certainly under consideration for a local release wearing a Holden badge. Built by Holden's German sibling Opel, the Tigra has its European launch next month.

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    Buyers there will have a choice of two engines; the 1.4 litre from the Barina and the 1.8 litre from the Barina SRi and Astra. It will distinguish itself from the Pluriel and the Mini Cabriolet by a folding metal roof, similar to that of the Peugeot 307CC. Fully power operated, it tucks away vertically between the passenger compartment and the boot. While boot space is reduced when the top is down, the roof does not restrict the boot opening like horizontal folding hard tops.

    The boot has 440 litres of space when the roof is up and more than 250 litres remains when the roof is stowed.

    The Tigra is strictly for two. But the loss of passenger-carrying ability is counterbalanced by the addition of a further 70 litres of storage space behind the front seats.

    Standard equipment in Europe includes sports seats, power windows and mirrors (heated), electronic braking, stability aids and dual front and side airbags.

    There is certainly space for the Tigra in Holden's line-up, which already has a best-seller in the Astra Convertible. Right-hand drive production is already a certainty; it will be sold in Britain wearing a Vauxhall badge and priced slightly below the Peugeot 206CC. This suggests an Australian price of about $35,000. The Tigra is smaller and would be considerably cheaper than the $46,000 Astra Convertible.

    Presumably, Holden will want to be certain the Tigra, by competing with the Peugeot 206CC, will not cannibalise Astra Convertible sales before giving it the green light locally.


    Mercedes-Benz SLK

    The Mercedes-Benz SLK, first released in 1996, pioneered the folding hard-top craze. The second generation is about to hit the streets, promising more power and better fuel economy from a choice of three engines.

    First models to arrive are the $83,800 SLK 200 Kompressor and the $109,400 SLK 350. Due early next year is the high-performance SLK 55 AMG, its V8 engine will launch it from 0-100kmh in a claimed 4.9 seconds.

    Mercedes claims the folding roof on the new SLK is faster and more compact than on the outgoing model, taking up less boot space and retracting in 22 seconds. New to this model is AIRSCARF, which blows warm air from vents in the head restraints of both the driver and passenger seats. Transmission options include a six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic.


    Mini Cabriolet

    The new Mini has been quite a success for parent company BMW, so much so that the Mini range is being expanded to broaden its appeal. Enter the Mini Cabriolet, the first of what may be a number of variants on the original others are expected to include a five-door, an all-wheel-drive and a wagon built on the Mini platform.

    As with the Mini, there will be two variants of the convertible in Australia the Cooper Cabriolet and the Cooper S Cabriolet. Engines are an 85 kilowatt, 1.6-litre in the Cooper and a 120 kilowatt supercharged 1.6-litre in the Cooper S. Interior styling cues will be carried over from the standard Mini. Weight increases by about 100 kilograms to accommodate the roof motors and body reinforcements.

    The Mini Cabriolet will be on display at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney in October, where prices and specifications will be announced. Mini Australia spokesman Alexander Corne says the convertible Mini will cost about $8000 more than the comparable standard Mini. Expect to pay about $41,000 for the Mini Cooper Cabriolet and $48,000 for the Cooper S Cabriolet.

    It has been a hit in Britain since its release a few months ago; 3000 have been delivered to customers there already, and most of this year's British allocation is reportedly sold. This is great news for BMW shareholders, but not necessarily for Australian devotees, as early supply could be restricted. Minis are built near Oxford in England, where the 500,000th Mini is expected off the production line later this month.


    Citroen C3 Pluriel

    First on to Australian roads will be the Citroen Pluriel, a cleverly packaged car which has both form and function. Citroen's designers and engineers have displayed considerable ingenuity in tackling some of the typical problems encountered when creating a convertible where to stow the roof and how to accommodate passengers and luggage.

    The Pluriel is based on the C3 platform, but shares little in the way of body panels. Citroen says the Pluriel has been designed as a convertible from the outset.

    The Pluriel has an electric folding drop-top with a glass rear window. The roof can be retracted in stages. The side arches can be removed to complete the open-top experience. For those who have a bit of extra gear to carry, the tailgate drops down, transforming it into a mini-ute.

    The roof and glass rear window can be stowed under a false floor, but the side arches do not have a designated storage area.

    The end result is a car that can fill several functions in a package that is easy on the eye. The Pluriel will have an 83 kilowatt, 1.6-litre engine when it arrives in showrooms on September 11. Price and specifications have not been released, but standard equipment should be similar to the C3 SensoDrive. Expect power windows and mirrors, front and side airbags, remote central locking and air-conditioning to be standard for about $33,000. The Pluriel will be available only with an automatic transmission -- the same SensoDrive system as in the C3.


    Renault Megane CC

    The new Megane hatch has caused quite a stir, with its cheeky styling including a provocative rear that can't help but catch the eye. The convertible derivative already on the road in Europe promises to do the same.

    Renault, with the assistance of German coachbuilder Karmann, has taken the folding hard-top concept to new heights with the extensive use of glass, which it says is a world first. The result is a car that has an open-top feel come rain, hail or shine.

    In Europe, the Megane CC comes with a choice of three engines two petrol (1.6 and 2 litre) and a 1.9-litre diesel. Standard features include a long list of electronic safety aids, dual front and side airbags, anti-submarining air bags under the front-seat cushions, and a refrigerated glovebox.

    The Megane CC will probably feature at the Australian International Motor Show before its local launch this year. Price will be about $50,000.

    Star convertible
    The Holden Astra Convertible is the biggest-selling convertible in Australia, says industry statistician VFACTS. With decent styling, a well-specified leather interior and responsive handling and performance, it managed a respectable 82 sales last month.

    Mini me
    Daihatsu's cute and cuddly Copen has been available in Australia since last year. The fun is in the styling: the miniature convertible can't help bringing a smile to the faces of those who see it. Although it is classified as a sports car, the Copen's 660cc engine is no firecracker.

    Beetle juice
    The VW Beetle is, like the Mini, a modern take on a classic car. The convertible version, launched in Australia last year, has a 2-litre engine, electric folding soft-top with glass rear window, a roll-over protection system and leather interior.

    Old hat
    Now over 10 years old, the Mazda MX-5 is the veteran in the convertible ranks. Originally praised for its classic sports-car look, the MX-5 remains a fresh and fun car that is also a rewarding drive. A turbocharged variant was recently added to the line-up.

    Pug fun
    Peugeot has two convertibles in its range, the 206CC and the newer and larger 307CC. Both have a powered folding metal roof, a choice of engines and four airbags as standard.
    You're not fooling everyone, or did you forget? .......




    '02 Peugeot 206 GTi / '07 VW Golf GTI
    Now this is a .sig
    AF'd in PER, MEL, SYD, ADL, CBR

  2. #2
    who? when? huh? GTI124's Avatar
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    I went to school with Tim

    Article is a nice summary or press material, really.
    Last edited by GTI124; 18th August 2004 at 12:36 PM.

  3. #3
    1000+ Posts Stone Free's Avatar
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    Seen the 206 and 307CCs around the place. Also seen (heaven help the crazy person) an Astra convertable, the Diahatsu and maybe a Beetle...but not sure.
    The AWARD WINNING 1998 Blaze Yellow 306 GTi6


    ......and a Series 3 205GTi on the side.



    "I enjoy telling people what to do, because I am an arrogant rock star. That's what I do. That's my job." Gene Simmons, ROCK SCHOOL.

  4. #4
    Banned orestes's Avatar
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    a Mini Convertible what are BMW thinking, why don't just destroy the Mini some more

  5. #5
    Fellow Frogger! whitegoshawk's Avatar
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    Bring back the Mini Panel Van I say!
    "You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles... Radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat." - Albert Einstein

    Xantia Activa CT - Chock full of upsy-downsy goodness!

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