Every year the Motor Press Guild puts together an event called Droptops and Dirt. You go off roading in a Range Rover with Lee and zip through the canyons of Malibu in convertibles. There are other things you can do there too but that’s how I spend my time.
I have opinions about cars. Mostly though I love them all for exactly what they are. I love a little Mazda and I went bananas for the 6 series Gran Coupe when they launched it several years back.
Droptops and Dirt introduced me to a few new favorites.
First there was the 2016 Beetle Dune. If you’re a child of the 60’s or 70’s this should stir some nostalgia in you. It’s a sophisticated yet fun take on the dune buggy of the time. The Dune is much like the regular Beetle except that the wheels are a bit larger, there’s a spoiler, retro colors and it’s lifted nearly an inch higher. You’ll feel free and fun in it and if you’re like me you’ll be stunned by what the audio quality with the top down.
On a personal level my worst ownership experience ever has been Mercedes. Every time I see someone with an E Class I think, “Sorry sucker!” and I’ve not understood the appeal of Mercedes Benz since having one of my own. Well, driving the new 2017 Mercedes Benz SL450 changed all of that for me. I understand the appeal. These seats hug you when you go into a turn. You can drive with the top down and your hair won’t be mussed. The sound system is better than the Hollywood Bowl (everything is better than the Hollywood Bowl but you get the picture). I’m not a fan of hard top convertibles as I don’t see the point in adding extra weight to a vehicle that already gets many extra pounds and loses pickup by virtue of going topless but even with a midsize engine the SL was such a beast on the corners that none of that mattered.
I didn’t get into the Buick Cascada but it didn’t look like any Buick I’d ever seen.
If you’re driving through a tunnel in a 2016 Camaro SS and drop down to second gear there’s a mighty (fun) rumble. This car is louder than stink and I loved every second of driving it. They shaved more than 220 pounds off the previous model gaining 14% in power-weight ratio. You will feel the power. You will love it.
I didn’t drive the Mustang. Maybe next week…
Now let’s talk about a roof that opens but isn’t quite a convertible. The Fiat Abarth is a cute little package that simply explodes on you. It’s got a rumbly exhaust, a fabulous sound system, a stiff suspension and a turbo engine in a lightweight vehicle. It handles beautifully but you’ve got to crack the windows when the top is open or you get a whomp whomp (it’s called the Helmholtz resonance).
It was a beautiful day with just the right amount of sun and I look forward to longer drives in each of these. All are fine vehicles. Oddly, the one with the “problem” is one of my favorites. There’s something irresistible about a Fiat.