Summer means fun, right?
Sure, spring has its moments, and fall can be lovely too. Driving in the winter is often full of challenges, but it does have its satisfactions as well. But when it comes right down to choosing the best season of the year for driving, it just has to be summer. The roads are clear, the weather is warm and the sun feels good on your shoulders. You can't help but want to drop the top, hit the accelerator and go.
Here are our picks for the best summer rides of 2011 that'll have you savoring the heat in style.
No. 5: Ford Mustang GT Convertible
If you'd like to leave the city and your cares behind, the Mustang GT convertible is your ticket to ride. First, you will find yourself ensconced in the classic pony car shape. The better news: That shape encloses a drivetrain and suspension that offer significant doses of pure handling and exhilarating acceleration. The 5.0-liter V-8 delivers 412 horsepower, and the six-speed manual transmission keeps you engaged in the game.
No. 4: Fiat 500 Convertible
OK, we admit its 101 horsepower pales in comparison with that of the other vehicles on this list. But a driver does not live by horsepower alone. The all-new Fiat 500 convertible is an engaging vehicle from any angle. It puts a new spin on the classic Fiat 500 styling, features an inventive interior and top arrangement, and is guaranteed to win you some attention, whether you're speeding around or standing still.
No. 3: Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible
If you were going to design a car strictly to drive on summer nights in any American suburb or small town, it would be just like the Chevy Camaro SS. The car looks great, drives great and even sounds great. It offers 426 horsepower (yes, 426!), and that power is accompanied by the most sophisticated suspension ever seen in a pony car.
No. 2: BMW 335i Convertible
A convertible with a hard top: That is one of the 335i's calling cards, but it is perhaps the least important aspect of the car. What's more important is the fact that the 335i convertible is a true BMW 3 Series, which means it is one of the best-balanced, most rewarding cars on the planet. It not only offers 300 horsepower, but also features a torque curve as flat as the Kansas plains, which means it is easy to drive fast. Add Euro sophistication, and you have a ride that's truly worthy of you.
No. 1: Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Convertible
Just you, your chosen companion and 430 horsepower -- what's not to like? Though the Corvette's shape is familiar, it still commands attention, and there is something deliciously selfish about keeping all that power just for the two of you. The Corvette isn't merely for profiling, though. As a performance car, the Grand Sport has the goods to out-accelerate and out-handle all but a tiny handful of vehicles, none of which can be purchased for anywhere near its $60,000 sticker price.
Luigi Fraschini is a Driving Today contributing editor who covers all aspects of the auto industry. Based in Cleveland, Fraschini loves driving interesting cars on hot summer nights.
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