The convertible, a summer icon at least since Benjamin took Mrs. Robinson for a spin in his Spider, is being taken to a new level of luxury this season. Good for more than just a tan, these four sporty models are also sophisticated high-performance machines.
Aston Martin DB9 Volante This one has it all—meticulous craftsmanship, comfort, refinement, and speed. The roof raises or lowers in 17 seconds. The wood on the trim comes from four continents, and the leather on the seats is sewn as if it were a bespoke suit. A 450hp V-12 engine propels the vehicle from zero to 60 in under five seconds. And should that much power get away from you, tilt sensors will detect a possible rollover before it happens and automatically release buffering hoops from the rear-seat headrests. $175,000
Mercedes-Benz SLK350 The SLK, with its curves and creases, is arguably the sexiest of the bunch. There's even a certain titillation you get from pushing just one button to simultaneously lower the steel hardtop and all four windows. Inside, the leather sports seats and metal trim are also seriously luxe. The 24-valve V-6 engine is quick enough, but it's even zippier when combined with the optional seven-speed automatic transmission, an industry exclusive. $47,700
Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet Every Porsche is a thrill to drive, including this 325hp monster. The whole thing is designed for exhilaration: It goes from zero to 60 in five seconds flat, sits on 18-inch alloy wheels, and the interior glows with the light of the Porsche Communication Management system, which displays all navigational and entertainment information. The long list of options includes a hardtop, carbon-fiber interior trim, and a Bose surround-sound stereo. $81,400
Chevrolet Corvette This classic piece of Americana has been redesigned again, and it's more swoopy than ever. But looks are the half of it: The 400hp, eight-cylinder engine is a neck-wrencher, built into a racetrack-ready chassis. Because that may be more car than most people know what to do with, there's also something called an Active Handling System, along with traction control, that helps maintain stability. $52,200