If the sight of people zipping down a road in an open-top car, their hair and stoles streaming behind them in the wind, arouses a passion of envy and admiration in your heart, blame it on the movies.
According to Eberhard Kern, MD and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India, the profile of the convertible buyer is somewhat different from the popular image. “Our target customers comprise discerning, highly tech-savvy people who are passionate about a superlative driving experience and want to make an impact with their style statement,” he says. “For them, a cabriolet is an extension of their individuality.”
Rashy Todd, managing director, Audi Gurgaon, adds: “Young India is changing and so is their lifestyle. There is a new concept of fun motoring and the young customer subscribing to this concept is adventurous, aspirational and interested in sports and technology. Their cabriolets are usually the second or even the third Audi in the family.”
Let's talk about sex, baby
Paritosh Gupta, 30-year-old businessman and founder of the Delhi-based CannonBall club (India’s biggest club for supercar owners), is excited by the convertibles available now.
There are also sporty versions of the convertibles, such as the Ferrari 458, the Bentley convertible and the Porsche 911 Carerra 4S Cabriolet. The ultimate in bespoke luxury is the Phantom Drophead Maharaja from Rolls Royce.
“You can spot an Audi A3 or a Mercedes SLK on any given day, especially in central Delhi, or late evenings in most five-star hotels, but the sportier versions are on the tracks of Budh International Circuit where the members of the CanonBall meet once or twice a month for some driving fun,” says Paritosh Gupta. Other places to spot them are the Agra Expressway or towards Gurgaon and further off.
The India effect
It all seems like a dream come true for the car-mad, but of course, the reality of life in India can be quite a spoilsport.
“Convertibles aren't practical in our country because it’s either too hot for most of the year, or raining, so they aren't really bought for open-air motoring,” says Hormazd Sorabjee.
There are practicalities to consider as well. “A convertible needs much more care and maintenance than a regular car, and even though you have the option of a four-seater, the rear seats don’t offer much leg space for an adult to feel comfortable, especially on a long route,” says Gupta.
Swati Bhalla has her own caveats to add. “Ground clearance is a sensitive issue in a supercar as surface clearance is pretty low. Also you need to be careful about speed breakers because a sudden jerk can cause alignment issues. So deft handling is required when it comes to these beauties,” she warns.
But what do practicalities matter when you’re in love? Nothing, laughs 18-year-old college student Labhesh Mann whose red Audi A3, a birthday gift from his parents, is a head turner. “The only thing that matters is the way the people swoon when they see my car zip down the roads in this lovely weather,” he winks.
From the author's diary
When it comes to doing a shoot with two sexy convertibles and four hot models, it’s not easy to get that awesome cover shot. Every frame is so good, it’s tough to zero in on just one. Even the models couldn’t take their eyes off the beauties on wheels. Setting it up was an adventure too.
First, I needed a good location. After hours of mulling over the right backdrop for these beasts, we decided on the DLF Golf & Country Club in Gurgaon. We figured that the perfect frame would have to be a top shot.
But, it also meant our photographer, Ajay Aggarwal, needed to be at a certain height. That’s where the truck, on which Ajayji is strategically perched, came in! The rain gods seemed to be ready for action, but thankfully, perhaps equally awed by the gleaming red cars, they spared us their blessings!
Location: DLF Golf & Country Club, Golf Course Road. Model and production coordination: Glitz Modelling Agency. Models: Apoorva Sharma, Sonal Pandey, Akshay Ma, Anjeet Tushir. Cars courtesy: Audi Gurgaon; Mercedes Benz
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From HT Brunch, August 23
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