Get out the stopwatches, and let's get topless.
It seems that at every press preview for a new roadster - and there are many these days as a steady stream of roadsters is introduced - the automaker boasts about how quickly its new convertible can drop its top.
The race is on largely because an increasing number of convertible tops are electronic instead of manual.
Boxster speed, SLK drama
Porsche boasts that the automatic top of its Boxster can be raised or lowered in 12 seconds flat. Indeed, it is lightning quick, as one might expect of a Porsche. When the sun comes out, just turn the latch, press the button and, bingo, the top is down so you can bask. Equally important, it goes up just as quickly when rain showers arrive.
Mercedes-Benz's SLK230 Kompressor runs a close second behind Porsche. Its hard top electronically retracts in less than 30 seconds, a dramatic event to behold as the metal panels fold neatly into the trunk. The higher-priced SL roadster likewise has a one-touch button that retracts its top into the trunk.
Ups and downs, ins and outs
The Mazda Miata MX5 can flip its lid in a matter of seconds at a stoplight, even though its top is manual and not electronic. You can undo the latches and push open the top by hand without leaving the driver's seat. When the skies open up with rain, however, you must stop and get out of the car to yank up the top.
Other manual tops are easy to use but may require getting out of the car to push the top into the trunk or behind the seats. For instance, the BMW Z3 has a manual top that is easy to operate but not without leaving the driver's seat.
The manual top of the Chevrolet Corvette is a snap once you find the button to pop open the metal boot that covers the folded convertible top - it's tucked up and under the boot, out of immediate sight.
The Plymouth Prowler's top operates similarly to that of the Vette. You pop the two windshield latches, pull a handle in the back to release the rear glass section, pull up the 'trunk' lid using another handle, then drop the whole mess into it.
Devil of a Diablo, honey of a Honda
But forget about opening the top of the Lamborghini Diablo Roadster VT if you are riding solo. The 17-pound roof panels must be lifted carefully and stored in the trunk or in a garage. It is definitely a two-person job.
OK. Stop the clock.
The winner - for now - is the Honda S2000, the newest roadster on the market.
Unlatch the levers, push the switch on the center console and the top drops - in an astounding six seconds flat.
One final tip for consumers who are still shy about getting topless: There's a great feature that comes with the car and will help you operate any kind of convertible top, whether it's electronic or manual. It's called an owner's manual.