Audi R8 Spyder named best convertible by SAMA

By Ron Beasley….

Pictured (l-r) are SAMA officials Ron Beasley and Paul Borden with Audi regional communications director Andrew Lippman, Fiat USA President Laura Soave, Nissan-Infiniti regional communications director Steve Parrett, General Motors regional communications director Araba Dowell, SAMA Treasurer Marcello Serrato and SAMA Vice President Jaime Florez.

Members of the Southern Automotive Media Association named the new 2012 Audi R8 Spyder as the best convertible in the inaugural “Topless in Miami” event last week at the Ritz-Carlton Resort on Key Biscayne.

At the same time, the beautiful new 2012 BMW 650i was named Best Luxury Convertible in a close competition that saw the Jaguar XKR and Mercedes Benz SLK350 finish closely behind the winner. The Audi A5, Infiniti G37, Lexus IS250 and Mercedes Benz SLK350 also were contenders in the Luxury Convertible category.

SAMA members judged a total of 19 vehicles entered in the competition by 15 different manufacturers in the competition intended to select the best convertibles on the market today. They voted the unique new Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet as the Best Family Convertible; the venerable Chevrolet Corvette as the Best Sports Car Convertible; and the all new Fiat 500C as the Best Small Convertible.

More than 40 SAMA members participated in the ride-and-drive competition, spending the day driving each of the convertible automobiles on the Key Biscayne roads, then scoring them on overall design, ease of operating the convertible top and the driving characteristics of each car.

“It was a wonderful event and everything went very smoothly,” said SAMA President Paul Borden. “Even the weather cooperated; it rained all around South Florida, but not a drop fell on Key Biscayne until our event was finished. And we had some of the most beautiful and impressive automotive machinery in the world to drive and grade. Our membership did an exceptional job of picking the winning automobiles and I think the manufacturers were satisfied with the event and the results.”

The winners were announced at an awards ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton that same evening.

Other convertibles that were entered in the competition included the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford’s Mustang GT, Chrysler 200 and Volkswagen Eos in the Best Family Convertible category; the BMW Z4 and Nissan 370Z Roadster in the Sports Car bracket; and the Jeep Wrangler, Mazda MX-5 Miata and MINI Cooper in the Small Convertible category.

SAMA is an organization made up of journalists, media organizations, corporate communication specialists, marketing and advertising specialists, and auto manufacturers specializing in the automotive industry. Formed in 2007, the organization now has more than 100 members throughout Florida and the southeastern United States.

Each year, SAMA hosts a luncheon at the South Florida International Auto Show and recognizes the outstanding vehicles in the show, including the coveted “Star of the Show.” Many of the SAMA selections have gone on to win national honors in the automotive media industry.

SAMA also sponsors the annual Rides-N-Smiles event in conjunction with the Homestead-Miami Speedway and the support of many auto manufacturers. The event is intended to bring smiles to patients and families in programs at Baptist Children’s Hospital and Miami Children’s Hospital by giving them rides in “dream cars” around the speedway’s road course.

For more information, contact SAMA President Paul Borden at 305-807-0454 or send email to

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About the Author

Ron Beasley
Ron Beasley is the automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277, ext. 261, or by addressing email correspondence to

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