Roadster Rumble

No matter the weather, here are two great excuses to go topless

by CHRIS THOMPSON

New v Used Performance treasure hunt

No matter the weather, here are two great excuses to go topless

Abarth 124 Spider

1368cc inline-four, SOHC, 16v, turbo 125kW @ 5500rpm 250Nm @ 2500rpm 1060kg 7.31sec (as tested) $41,990

vs 2012 BMW Z4 20i

E N G IN E 1997cc inline-four, DOHC, 16v, turbo POWER 135kW @ 5000rpm TORQUE 270Nm @ 1250-4500rpm W E I G H T 1420kg 0 -1 00KM/H 7.2sec (claimed) P R I C E $76,900 (new)

Thereís little to shelter you from their rorty exhaust notes

TíS WINTER, or the cooler part of foreversummer if you live in the north. And that means convertibles are cheap right now. If you want to hide one away for the warmer months, nowís a good time to be on the hunt. An MX-5 is the most obvious choice, of course, but a lot of people have MX-5s.

What if you donít want to be like a lot of people? Maybe youíll want something European.

If youíve got a hankering to feel the wind in your hair (or to lose a few hats) and $45K to shed, you could purchase a new Abarth 124 Spider. Or, you could hunt around for something with a more luxo badge, but with a few years under its belt, like a BMW Z4 20i.

Both are rear-wheel drive, lightweight, and have turbocharged four-banger hearts. Sure, the Z4 weighs a bit more (1060kg for the 124, versus 1400kg for a manual Z4, I or 1420kg for an automatic), but it also makes a little more power and twist. The result is a 0-100km/h time of about seven seconds each (claimed 6.8 for the 124 vs 6.9 for a manual Z4 or auto in 7.2).

Inside, their relatively simple interiors make clear your attention should be on the road in front of you. Itís one advantage of BMWís aging interior styling. The Abarth, too, has the same simple charm as the car itís based on, the ND MX-5. A sound choice if neither of these tickle your fancy.

If youíre lucky, you might find a Z4 with the adaptive suspension option ticked. However, on a spirited drive, or on a track day, both cars are going deliver a pure sportscar experience, with the added bonus of having little to shelter you from their delightfully rorty exhaust notes. You also get the exhilaration of rushing to close the roof when it starts bucketing. Ah, drop-top motoring bliss. M

NOW $37,499 Hereís one we found on Trade Unique Cars

2012 BMW Z4 20i 96,499km, auto, $37,990

Lorbek Luxury Cars, in Melbourne, currently has a clean example of a Z4 20i up for grabs. Itís an early example of the model, with an eight-speed auto, but finding a manual example shouldnít prove impossible.