With the dry weather returning and the prospect of three largely rain-free months between now and Christmas, what better way to celebrate the balmy days of a Hong Kong autumn than by lowering the roof on the car and, with the sun on your face and wind in the hair, escaping to the beach with friends and family?
If a convertible isn't currently occupying space in your garage, now's surely the time to think about one – so here's our pick of the current four-seat, drop-top cruisers that each combine high style and feisty performance with practicality and fuel economy.
Audi A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Quattro
Although the A5 has been around for some time now and the current, facelifted, version probably has no more than a couple of years to go, it's still one of the best-looking cars in the company line-up. Indeed, in convertible guise it's at its most covetable.
Like all Audis it's beautifully built, there's ample room for four adults – though ride can be a little rigorous if you specify the sporty, S-line package – and quattro all-wheel-drive means it's as safe as houses. For the best compromise between performance and economy, opt for the 211bhp 2.0-litre TFSI, with Audi's peerless seven-speed dual-clutch box.
BMW 428i Convertible
The 3-series Convertible is dead – long live the 4-series (which is basically the same thing but with a new name). Launched just over a year ago, the 428i is BMW's player in the premium family open-top segment and, unlike the Audi or the Benz, it comes with a folding hardtop as opposed to a cloth roof.
That means it isn't quite as pretty as the 4-series coupe but – hey – it's a damn sight nicer place to be when the sun comes out. Stick with the 428 rather than the pricier and thirstier 435; contrary to what the name suggests, it's a 2-litre, turbocharged four driving through an eight-speed auto, though with 240-odd horses under the bonnet you'd never know it.
Mercedes-Benz E250 Cabriolet
Mercedes has long been the master at creating relaxed luxury cruisers, and this latest mid-range soft-top is no exception, offering superb comfort and ride in an extremely handsome package – though there is some trade-off in back-seat room.
We'd go for the E250, whose 2-litre, four-cylinder turbo produces 211bhp – exactly the same as the Audi – and revel in its looks, supreme refinement (which is almost up to that of a fixed-head coupe), and relatively lively performance. No need to worry about the hairdo, either, as Aircap – an ingenious front and rear air-deflection and draft-blocking system – comes as standard equipment in this classy boulevardier par excellence.