Exotic concept roadsters may be plentiful at Geneva this year, but Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, Saab and Renault have unveiled some equally impressive, production-ready cabriolets.

Exotic concept roadsters may be plentiful at the Geneva Show this year, but Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, Saab and Renault have unveiled some equally-impressive, production-ready ragtops.

Exotic concept roadsters may be plentiful at Geneva this year, but Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, Saab and Renault have unveiled some equally impressive, production-ready cabriolets.

CARtoday.com reported last month that DaimlerChrysler SA would follow up the launch of its barnstorming CLK 55 AMG with the launch of CLK cabriolet derivatives in mid-July. We reported at the time that Mercedes-Benz claimed the car, which made its international debut at the current show, would set the benchmark in its class in terms of interior noise, thermal insulation and all-round visibility... Mercedes CLK Cabriolet.

Peugeot 307 CC

The latest addition to the Peugeot’s 307 family, the 307 CC, can be transformed from a coupé to a cabriolet in 25 seconds at the press of a button. The electronically-controlled electro-hydraulic system provides the actuation of the folding roof mechanism, including the locking, which does not require manual operation.

The system essentially comprises an electro-pump unit, a "pivot tube", five cylinders, four multifunction linkages, and 12 switches which combine to operate the roof and the boot assembly at the same time as the rear screen, the latter detaching itself from the rear quarter panels and positioning itself in such a way that the boot volume is maximised.

The whole of the front cabin, including the driver’s position, has been reworked. The front and rear seats are 40 mm lower than those of the saloon. At the rear, the seats become more upright to free space for housing a boxed section that performs a triple role: transverse stiffening, integration of two roof bars that are triggered in the event of roll-over, and a bracket for anchoring the roof mechanisms on the structure.

The height of the vehicle is 12 mm lower than the 307 and the shape of the The windscreen, which is more sharply raked than on the saloon, reportedly cuts down the air noise in the passenger compartment. Two 16-valve two-litre engines will be fitted to the 307 CC: a 100 kW, 190 N.m unit mated to a five-speed manual gearbox or a sequentially controlled "Porsche Tiptronic system" and a 130 kW, 202 N.m powerplant coupled to a five-speed manual ‘box.

In the driver’s seat, the 307 CC is distinguished from the rest of the 307 family by a leather steering wheel with three metallic inserts. Aluminium and metal are used liberally in the passenger compartment, on the pedal pads and the foot rest, the gear lever knob, the monogrammed door sills, the instrument panel and the vents.

Standard features include: twin-function sensor (rain and brightness), electrochromatic interior mirror, flat blade windscreen wipers, four-sensor parking aid system, automatically-folding exterior mirrors, follow-me-home lighting system (providing passengers with better visibility when they climb out of the vehicle at night) and cruise control.

Saab 9-3 Convertible

The new Saab 9-3 Convertible is being hailed as the biggest advance Saab has made in 20 years of designing four-seater soft tops.

The Swedish manufacturer’s engineers developed the architecture for 9-3 Convertible and Sport Sedan on the same chassis and therefore, the Saab claims, the convertible has a similar structural integrity, build quality and refinement as its four-door stablemate.

The Convertible’s body structure is reportedly three times stiffer than its predecessor and the car is powered by either a 130 or 157 kW lightweight two-litre four-cylinder turbo engine. The model is fitted with “CargoSET” automatic boot expansion linked to the soft-top, “DynaCage” rollover protection with pop-up roll bars and “CargoWing” rear spoiler and ski/snowboard carrier.

A spokesman said: “Saab is launching this convertible from a position of strength, as we are already established as a market leader in the segment. This new model is well placed to open up new opportunities for us.”

Mégane II Cabriolet

Renault claims that the four seater Mégane II Cabriolet is the first production car to be equipped as standard with a folding glass roof. In addition to anti-submarining airbags for the front seats, Mégane II Coupé-Cabriolet is equipped with fixed or automatic safety hoops that provide optimum protection whether the roof is open or closed.

Only the front face, the headlamps and the bonnet are carried across from Mégane II. The specially-shaped front wings, non-existent door pillars and side trim strips are unique to the cabriolet, but on the inside, the dashboard and the front seats are identical to those in the Mégane saloon.

Apart from its purely aesthetic value, the glass roof, which was developed by Karmann, improves visibility for ease of manoeuvring in urban situations. The 4mm-thick Venus 35 glass, heated rear window and the elimination of any risk of ageing or deterioration of the hood offset the disadvantages of cabriolets, a Renault spokesman says.

Opening and closing, performed by an electro-hydraulic mechanism, are entirely automatic and require no additional latching. Turning the car into a cabriolet takes 22 seconds - one of the fastest times on the market.

In the front, the seats have been lowered by 24 mm. The slope of the windscreen has been designed to provide the front seat passengers with maximum space and to reduce the "cap effect" inherent in cabriolets. Access to the back seats is made easier by the position-memory of the front seat slides and seat backs.

When it goes on sale, Mégane II Coupé-Cabriolet will be available with three powertrains. The petrol engine range comprises 86 kW 1,6-litre 16V and 101 kW two-litre 16V powertrains, and a 89 kW 1,9 dCi diesel engine.

ABS, emergency brake assist, variable-assist electric steering, ESP with understeer control and a tyre pressure monitoring system are standard equipment.

Furthermore, Mégane II Coupé-Cabriolet features the third-generation Renault System for Restraint and Protection and six airbags. The body has been designed to keep the cabin space intact in the event of a rollover with the aid of strengthened windscreen pillars, body sides and sills.