New cars for 2012 - Part 3 - Coupes & convertibles: Ferrari - Jaguar

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Ferrari 458 Spider
What is it? Convertible version of Ferrari supercar
Price from £198,856
On sale January 2012

Removing the roof from our 2011 Performance Car of the Year could have turned it into a softie. In fact, the 458 Spider – the convertible version of the 458 Italia coupe – is just as thrilling as its coupé sibling.

Its two-piece electrically operated aluminium roof takes just 14 seconds to fold up or down. Roof up, the Spider feels sportily snug, with minimal wind noise. Lower the roof and there’s no more than a cooling swirl of air with the side windows up.

The 458 Spider has slightly softer damper settings than the Italia, but this doesn’t lessen the drama of driving a 458; it’s ferociously rapid and can tackle corners at huge speeds. That said, it’s also surprisingly easy to just trundle around in.

There’s a premium of nearly £26,000 over the Italia, but that won’t bother Spider buyers. First customer deliveries of the 458 Spider are expected in early 2012.

Jaguar C-X16
What is it? Stunning rival for Porsche Cayman/911
Price from £50,000 (est)
On sale Winter

Jaguar’s new sports car finally arrives in late 2012. A name is yet to be confirmed, but the new model will be closely based on the C-X16 concept car shown at the Frankfurt motor show in September. The production version is likely to be unveiled in convertible guise at the Geneva motor show in March 2012.

At 445cm, the C-X16 is around 35cm shorter than Jaguar’s XK. Much of the difference in overall body length is down to a very short rear overhang. A stabilising pop-up wing may be necessary on the production model.

Although final versions are initially expected to be powered by conventional V6 engines, the concept car is a hybrid. Its supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine produces 376bhp and 332lb ft, with an electric boost of 94bhp and 173lb ft on tap for up to 10 seconds via a ‘push to pass’ button on the steering wheel.

The concept car’s dramatic red interior will be toned down for production, but features such as the aircraft-style toggle switches are likely to be retained. A regular hatchback will replace the show car’s side-hinged tailgate.

We’d expect basic, non-supercharged V6 versions of the car to start from around £50,000, allowing more extreme variants to overlap into XK pricing, at up to £80,000.

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New cars for 2012 - Part 3 - Coupes & convertibles: Mercedes - Mini

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