The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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January 8, 2013

Cars: New convertible models are all hotties

— It may still be winter, but that hasn't stopped auto makers from announcing some of their hottest new models for the upcoming year.

Here's a look at three smokin' European convertibles to dream about over a cup of hot chocolate:

E-Class Cabriolet

The E-Class has never been the most exciting car from Mercedes-Benz, but the addition of a convertible to the lineup added some spice a few years ago.

Now Mercedes is giving the drop-top E-Class Cabriolet — along with its coupe sibling — some sexy new styling for 2014.

The front end gets the most dramatic changes, where a V-shaped nose and new headlight style make it look sportier, almost like the classic SL roadster, but retaining the same "four eyes" look of the E-Class sedan.

It also gets a state-of-the-art sensor system that Mercedes calls "intelligent drive." It uses both stereo video cameras and radar sensors to create a 3D view of everything happening up to 165 feet in front of the vehicle, plus get some idea of what's happening up to 1,640 feet ahead. That means it can see cars, pedestrians and road markings, then take appropriate action to improve safety or warn the  driver.

Continental GT Speed

Want to drive the king of convertibles?

Bentley claims its new flagship convertible, the Continental GT Speed, will be the fastest four-seat car you can drive with the wind in your hair. It has a top speed of 202 miles per hour.

This new model is powered by a 6.0-liter, 12-cylinder engine that makes 616 horsepower, a number usually associated more with exotic supercars than comfortable, top-down boulevard cruisers.

And, make no mistake, Bentley says the new GT won't sacrifice comfort or quality to reach that insane top speed. It comes with hand-crafted, diamond-quilted hide upholstery and custom cabin trim made from your choice of fine wood veneers.

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