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Convertible comparison: 5 athletes with aerodynamics

Wind in your hair and everything smells good? I beg you, we won't let ourselves be tricked that easily. We are not! If the basics are right, the fresh air can very well be the turbocharger of the driving experience - or also: the airbrake.

Ask the group of inclined people: Is love really in the air? I mean: is it enough to have a clear head to clear one's head? Or does it matter how the wind ruffles your hair? And: what produces it?

You know how the sport-auto view of things like this is. Or: You can see from our selection that we prefer to ride into the sunset on our principles rather than in the Opel Cascada. But for once we are not alone with our focused perspective. Take a look around: Open and dynamic still exist in all forms, from soft to ultra-hard, but the common sense gradually leads to nothing. The flood of folding roof small cars has subsided, the open compact classics are long gone, even the dubious open-air SUV experiments that were intended as mega hype, even those have either already failed or are well on their way there. Our conclusion: The pulling force of the airstream is simply not sufficient to give lift to every pile of technology. Say: success.

Or to come back to love: It doesn't just fall from the sky into some randomly opened interior. It has to be stimulated, by the engine, by the driving feeling or by their interaction, which - welcome to the quintessence - gets a completely different drive from the fresh air: a stronger colour, a special taste, its own charm, a special one.

Elegant transition

And with that we glide over to the Jaguar F-Type P450 and AMG E 53, where your heart only really opens with the hood. Whereby misunderstandings here and there cannot be ruled out. The Jaguar, for example, seems to let you know where the music is playing as soon as you start it. And who. Growl, roar, exhaust roar - all roger, the wonderful, five-liter V8, which has the ears of all who have seen it in action.

But in this case they only slack off for a short time. A hearty start-up shower, then the compressor - well - the throat is gradually squeezed shut. No acceleration orgy towards delirium, no silent screams from the passenger seat, just fat, but amazingly wholesome thrust forward.

The cause of the foam brake lies in the reformed offer structure of the F-Type, from which they sawed out the intermediate floor of the six-cylinder with the facelift. Why? Fewer versions, equals less hassel with the homologation, equals less cost.But because the difference between the thin basic four-pots and the full-fat, usually overwhelming R model would have been a bit too big, the top engine now has to work as a part-time job as a mediator. With 450 hp instead of the usual 575, with 120 Nm less and with the said discrepancy between tenor and action, which - thanks to the special aerodynamics of the convertible - almost disappears into thin air here.

As strange as it may sound, the fabric roof takes the tension out of the relations. Once the hood is tucked behind the seats, the muscular soundtrack and comparatively gaunt thrust seem to nestle together. The combination of soft springs and firm cushioning is suddenly on the soft rock wavelength, the milky steering feels like balm on the skin.

Don't worry, the roof section doesn't turn the driving experience into a Rosamunde-Pilcher-Schmonzette: The dynamics are too high for that, the handling is too lively and the entertainment is much too good. But: It puts the F-Type in the right light, pulls it out of the eternal chase with high performers and into the slipstream of brand tradition.

You can tell who it's based on by the styling: by the pebbly front end or simply by the alphabet. And in contrast to the R or the SVR models, which with their historical references come out more in the muscle car era, the down-dosed eight-cylinder actually wakes the E-Type up.

Soft dynamics, swing of the 60s

Of course, the P450 doesn't quote its history correctly either. The tailpipes actually belonged (as with the discarded V6 models) in a central double bundle, and the cylinders were then in a row of six and albeit in twelves, but never in eights in the Vau. However, one should let the voluminous engine pass as an interpretation displacement, especially since today 1,800 kilos have to be pumped forward and no longer just 1,250. The driving and fresh air feelings, however, which are perfectly dosed, swing like they did back in the sixties. Window down, a step on the gas, and the atmosphere is already fluttering through the interior in such a way that one seriously has to wonder who came up with the idea of ​​naming the F-Type Cabrio, when it – just like its style designer from yesteryear – is a genuine roadster.

Unlike the Mercedes. Its charm is teased with the wind, but at the same time the E 53 pulls out all the stops to emancipate open-top driving from the feeling of open-top driving. Two button presses are all it takes for hot air from the headrests to wrap itself around the neck like a fan scarf, while an extendable deflector on the window frame allows the airflow to sweep across the interior. The bottom line: the cheese dome to sit outside – which isn’t all there today.

But what does today mean? The E-Class is caught between yesterday and the challenges of tomorrow.One leg fusses with the big Mercedes convertibles from 70 years ago, the other is hooked on current issues such as CO2, which manifest themselves in the form of a mild hybrid system. Sounds bad, yes, but actually suits the in-line six-cylinder well. Oh well, the ladies and gentlemen regular readers will now think, but that sounded very different two years ago when the CLS got a hard beating for exactly the same drive train. The high-tech only compensates for its own additional weight, was prominently written in the magazine at the time, much to the displeasure of AMG, logically.

So where did the change of heart come from? Well, as I said, convertibles have the ability to change perspective. Change, don't obfuscate, that should be expressly mentioned. But the essential here, if only because of the design principle, shouldn't just be sportiness alone. Keyword extra weight, keyword rigidity.

Besides, you have to get to know each other first. keyword misunderstanding. When the Affalterbachers came around the corner with their new abbreviation, things seemed clear. The 53 bridges the gap between the robust 43s and the born brilliance of the 63. That's what the price structure and the performance figure of 435 hp promise. But the number line in Affalterbach is obviously not as linear as it seems. The supposed intermediate step is to be understood more as a side-step - as an alternative route that does not lead straight to the dynamic summit, but comes out the other way around with enjoyment.

Admittedly, this all sounds like late insight. Or even: A belated apology for the test of yore. But that's not what it's meant to be. As far as the CLS is concerned, we're sticking to it: the powerful V8 punch would suit it better than the flowery six-cylinder. However, the wildly romantic 53 is an ornament to the E-Class Cabriolet. It may be that the AMG covers are blown away in places by the mild wind: Here and there a bit of exhaust babble trickles into the smooth power flow, on bad roads a harsh damper note ruffles the perm. Otherwise, the AM genetics are elegantly reserved. Oh yes: There is the unavoidable matt paint, a race track app in the infotainment system and the multifunctional control ears on the steering wheel, which, however, for the multitude of reasons given, do without a race mode.

From fango to nudism

Although the Benz is no slob despite the lush 1,980 kilos. The motor pushes 520 Nm under the sole of the foot, the additional compressor helps out below with 250. This results in extremely stringent propulsion, which only threatens to fizzle out a bit because it is almost nicer under the cheese dome without it.

Sodele, but now get out of the fango pack and over to the Porsche, which after so much closed freedom of movement should actually feel like a belly flop in the nudist area.But the contrasts are - once the first culture shock has been digested - not as gigantic as feared. Or should I say: as hoped? Of course, you sit two floors lower than in the Daimler, everything seems slimmer, more direct, closer, more abrupt - but the leap into another galaxy is missing.

It may be that the dark blue regulates the libido a bit. The manual switch, which is optionally available, would certainly bring more life into the booth than the slick, but lightning-fast double coupler. But otherwise this Porsche is not really a party mouse. The 911 feeling sits buttoned up in the passenger seat instead of hugging you as soon as you get in, as is its habit. So you have no choice but to take the initiative yourself. Proven means: the three-liter boxer, which is wrapped up noticeably thicker in the Targa. 110 kilos saddle up the top, mechanics and stiffeners on top, plus the peculiar quirk of only offering the Targa with all-wheel drive. Makes another 50 kilos more. Consequence: In contrast to the coupe, the biturbo looks a bit dull in the normal program, bobbles around at the bottom of the speed range, has to downshift every time the speed changes.

But there is an antidote to this latent obesity, a simple one in fact: the sport mode, which puts the character in Porsche form in almost no time at all. Or better: the speed level a little bit in the direction of the boost pressure flow. The sharper gas response overplays the higher moment of inertia of the body, a more offensive switching tactic shortens the fuse, while the PDCC wrings the rolling movements out of the driving behavior so residue-free that the Targa disadvantages are almost ironed out.

And that's where the difference to the other two lies: F-Type and AMG E 53 draw their fascination from the open-air experience, while the 911, which knows how to charm its occupants quite well without birdsong, suggests the convertible Effect always goes in the other direction. Yes, the striptease is amazing. The way he spreads the rear glass dome, balances the roof section underneath and puts everything back together - so lasciviously that you want to stick a foot under his tail. But then the show is over, and all that's left is narrowed agility and, well, a better sunroof.

The small vacant lot may be historically correct, although the Targa was a reaction to safety regulations at the time and not a pretty-looking reason to show what can be done with roofing. What I want to say: For at least 145,741 euros, it makes a bit more third for a little less driving pleasure. It is a semi-convertible, but comes with all the disadvantages due to the highly complex changing room choreography. tags? The usual: extra weight, rigidity.

Despite everything, the enthusiasm cannot be escaped in a wondrous way. The four-wheel drive may give the musculoskeletal system thick ankles, but when accelerating, it knows exactly how to grab its colleague, better: where to step. First he keeps everything taut, then he straightens your butt before Luzie starts to walk with a small but nice lunge. to run? Oh, she whets up the gears, crows, rattles, roars and really hits the spot with 450 hp and 530 Nm. Just one thing is missing: the gift of breaking down the party that the 911 revs up into small pieces - into something that reminds you of the whole rush even when you're chugging through the Lidl parking lot. Basically, what is missing is exactly what they build entire cars from in Italy.

The Cathedral of Power

Before half of Zuffenhausen climbs onto the roof: No, I'm not trying to make a comparison between a 911 Targa and the 180,000 euros more expensive, 350 hp Ferrari, I just want to show you what I mean . Look, down there on the right on the steering wheel: the Manettino. Pretty, isn't it? Basically, it doesn't do anything different than the drive program controller in the 911, but it also does something to you. It's bursting with emozioni, it clicks so nicely when it snaps through its positions, it's red, made of metal, while the rotary wheel in the 911, sorry if I put it that way, could also hire Adelholzener as a screw cap.

On the other hand, in the midst of such a cathedral of power, which the 812 GTS undoubtedly is, there is of course also a light glow. Just what is there on the altar, holy shit: 6.5 liters of displacement and twelve cylinders that cheer straight up the sky.

That's right, it also came in a set dark blue, but it still shimmers like a rainbow. I mean, unlike the Targa, you don't have to bug your personality first, and unlike the Jag, you don't have to pull it out of history by the hairs. No, here you get the full roar of character as a bath. A bit like the Benz, only with a lot more foam.

The only problem: As soon as the whole thing gets going, the sauce spills over the edge of the pool. Unfortunately, the scope of what is permitted only includes a tiny fraction of the potential offered, so that you actually have to lie motionless in the tub off the motorway.

Not that it's not without charm, splashing through the country on a low flame, letting the polyphonic timbre of the V12 trickle down your back and tracing the curves of the country roads on the hyper-direct, perhaps a little too easy-going steering. Not at all. But at some point you just get fed up with the scent of meadows, want to switch on the LEDs in the steering wheel rim, hear not only the intro from the wide sound spectrum, but also the refrain.And above all, you finally want to get up to the top of the speed range, which is something like Everest in the mountains of high feelings.

At first you think: naturally aspirated engine, all right, so let's get into the parabolic acceleration first. But there is no calm before the storm. The broad base of displacement acts like an indirect turbocharger on torque growth, bulges the 1,850 kilos up this crucial piece from below, so that it can capture the irrepressible joy of revving directly and with full force. And: don't let go. It's not just the sheer boost that's absurd, it's more the fact that it doesn't seem to let up anymore. Even in the higher performance classes, you usually notice that the line gets longer with the gear ratio, that flashes of flame become more and more of a smoldering fire gear by gear. The 812, however, is still ablaze even in the seventh of its seven gears. Or to put it another way: 800 hp, 718 Nm, 0-200 in 8.3 seconds, 340 km/h and a completely flooded bathroom as a result.

Summer as a aftertaste

Misunderstandings? They simply burn up here in the ardor of propulsion: The expectations may be huge, but they remain less equal to the facts. Even the abbreviation hits the mark: GTS. Gran Turismo Spider, that's the situation. Having said that, there was no apparent reason to drop the base's name. Because superfast is undoubtedly also the folding roof version.

But although the increase in pleasure is dramatic when the elemental force brushes unfiltered over the crown of your head, the souvenirs of the topless concept are also in this car. Considering that the convertible version was not intended during the development of the 812, so it was subsequently worked into an existing concept, the design and handling are nothing less than masterpieces. Nevertheless, the predetermined breaking points of the roof construction push through into the movement. The chassis is firmer than the body, the transfer movements due to the 120 extra kilos are not as weightless as the steering would have you believe, so that it is not only about the taste of summer here, but also about its aftertaste.

Let me unravel it. From the ground up, the AMG E 53 is like vanilla ice cream with hot raspberries, and the fabric roof is just the icing on the cake. The same applies in a different form to the F-Type, which the convertible takes away from the back with the pressure to perform. With Porsche and Ferrari, however, whose pedigrees grow steeply in the direction of performance, the clear sky always lies as a shadow over the driving experience.

The real convertible? The pure!

In the end, the best convertible is probably the one that stands for itself, that doesn't have a coupé cousin breathing down its neck, the pure convertible, so to speak, which in this case is also one of the most puristic of all. May I introduce? Dear Morgan, These are our readers.Dear reader, this is the Morgan Plus Six, which - as you can easily see - is made of different stuff.

Made of ash, to be precise, although the proportion of trees on the chassis has now become low, or as some say: a rudiment for the sake of old times. In any case, the platform is mostly made of aluminum, and the wheels are now even hung up individually. In any case, only the dress is really retro.

On the other hand: retro? He? Probably not, after all they never stopped building this type of car up in Malvern, Worcestershire. Or to be precise: cars of this type. Unlike a New Beetle, the Plus Six is ​​not an artificially fertilized model history, but a continuous one. your common thread? It arises from the connection between the old-school look and comparatively fresh underwear, i.e. from the provoked collision of different epochs, which of course becomes more and more violent over time. Or simply: Yesterday's charm, today's technology - welcome to the Morgan!

Whether the enormous attraction lies in this multitude of opposites? Or just being able to clip white Cibié caps over the fog lights? I don't know it. One thing is certain: everyone who is fed up with the same old stuff should actually run into Morgan, shell out 105,900 euros and - if they don't marry into a large family the next day - become pretty happy pretty quickly and pretty sustainably.

Pop meets classic

Although with all the love for the many delightful details, one has to say that the duet of classic and pop also results in some weird tones. We don't need to grumble about the seats any longer because – by the time you read this – they should already have been discarded in favor of ergonomic counterparts. But there is also dissonance elsewhere. Here picturesque round clocks, bling-bling and noble leather, there controls from the Stellantis rummage table and, oh dear, a BMW selector lever that actually comes from a BMW automatic!

Does this go together? I mean: on the one hand the roadster of the purest water, a driver's car for nostalgics - and inside one of these new-fangled propulsion conveyor belts? Well, the eight-speed converter looks great on the three-liter six-cylinder, after all, the two know each other from their time together in the Z4. With the Morgan, however, the general conditions are completely different, which can be seen from the fact that the gentlemen at Merz and Pabst handed us the key, including a warning. Accordingly, one should beware of the D program, since a kickdown at the wrong moment can sometimes lead to sudden spins. "To high revs you mean?" "No, to lathes in the true sense of the word!" Whoa!

After the first few kilometers it becomes clear why. That you can't count on the support of the electronics druids at Plus Six, okay, that was to be expected. Or even secretly hoped for.What was not to be expected was that the power hits so hard.

Well, 340 hp is nothing completely freaky these days. On the contrary: The Morgan is even the small stack of this quintet, but thanks to the sparse trappings around it it is the lone peak in terms of speed. Firstly, the Chose only weighs 1,075 kilos. Dry figure, fine, but even if it's twelve hundred in the end, the power-to-weight ratio tends roughly in the direction of 812 GTS. Only its body is a thick anorak, while the Plus Six – secondly – ​​puts you behind the wheel in boxer shorts. Exaggeration? Not at all! As soon as the side windows are unscrewed, the car literally goes below the belt line, the road rushing by is within reach, and as if the wealth of experience wasn't enough, the machine pulls just as hard as it pushes.

A tap on the gas pedal and you thunder through sports car history as a manned torpedo. The front is a wedge in Grand Prix racing in the early 1930s, while the present is pushing from behind in the form of 500 highly motivated Newton meters. Lasting impression: a distorted world, especially since you dangling at the front wheels dangling at the skirts.

But lo and behold: After one or two missed vertices, the timelines are synchronized and the melting pod racer curves as if made of one piece. The spontaneous, but by no means overly motivated steering wraps itself around the wrists like a direct wire, the chassis kneels fully in the lateral acceleration, and even the rear, which we had expected to be a wobbly stool because of the brutal engine power, turns out to be a corsage for the buttocks .

You really feel everything: how it rotates around its longitudinal axis when you turn in, how the 19-inch wheels start to jostle as soon as you put them under boost pressure, how the lock tries to keep the bike together, how the grip gradually turns into friction – and then: how the back of your head counts all the grandmothers who would be peddled for this vehicle. Honestly? It couldn't be more intense, neither in terms of driving nor the convertible feeling. Because let's assume there is a few percent of love in the air, then you would also be very lucky in the Morgan that even with the hood closed, it shoots through all sorts of cracks into the cockpit.


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