A List of Harptop Convertibles
It's not that hard to compile a list of the best hardtop convertibles on the market, for the simple fact that there really aren't that many of them out there. Hardtop convertibles are a special breed that demands sacrifice (trunk space, added mechanical complexity, lengthier open and close times) in order to deliver excellent all-weather performance (thanks to a well-insulated steel roof) and a coupe-like profile. The added costs of designing and building good hardtop convertibles has for the most part relegated them to the realm of the luxury and near-luxury segment - with a few notable exceptions.
Let's take a quick look at the 10 best hardtop convertibles currently available in the United States.
The 2012 Volkswagen Eos that leads off this list of hardtop convertibles occupies that rarified air between affordable daily driver and almost premium vehicle that VW automobiles have edged closer and closer to with each passing year. Based on a platform similar to that of the Passat sedan, the Volkswagen Eos offers reasonable interior room and a buttoned-down ride. It also comes with a sunroof integrated into its retractable hardtop, which is an unusual feature in its class. The Volkswagen Eos is motivated exclusively by a 200 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and is shifted by a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission.
Top Hardtop Convertibles: 02. 2012 Lexus IS C
The 2012 Lexus IS C is the drop-top version of the Lexus IS sedan. With no dedicated coupe model in the lineup, the Lexus IS C pulls double-duty as the brand's only hardtop convertible car (now that the SC has been put out to pasture) as well as its singular sporty two-door (aside from the ultra-expensive LFA). The Lexus IS C is a compact luxury vehicle that can be had in two trim levels. The IS 250 C generates 204 horsepower from a 2.5-liter V-6, while the IS 350 C steps up to a 306 horsepower, 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard with the IS 250 C, while the IS 350 C features the former's optional six-speed automatic as its only available gearbox.
Top Hardtop Convertibles: 03. 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata
The 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata proves that you don't have to spend a ton of cash to drive one of the best hardtop convertibles around. The Mazda MX-5 Miata comes in a power-retractable hardtop (PRHT) edition that grafts a solid steel roof onto the diminutive roadster's body. While this does add a little bit of weight to the Miata, the roof and its associated mechanism are not nearly as heavy as those offered by its competitors, and handling suffers by only a marginal amount. This lightweight approach is a good thing, considering that that Miata's 167 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine isn't designed to lug around a big load. Transmission choices for the Mazda include a five-speed manual, a six-speed manual, and a six-speed automatic.
Top Hardtop Convertibles: 04. 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is another small, two-seat automobile that is consistently ranked as one of the top hardtop convertibles. Unlike the Miata, the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is more focused on luxury and power than pure open air motoring, and as such it can be loaded up with a substantial number of comfort goodies and high tech options. Redesigned for the current model year, the SLK-Class features the availability of a special glass panel in its roof that can be dimmed in order to block out the sun, and it can also be ordered with the Dynamic Handling package in order to improve its performance in the corners. The SLK-Class starts out with a 201 horsepower, 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (that can be paired with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic), while a 3.5-liter V-6 that is good for 302 horses (and features a seven-speed autobox, standard) is also offered with the roadster.
Top Hardtop Convertibles: 05. 2012 BMW 3 Series
The 2012 BMW 3 Series is one of the best hardtop convertibles for those who want to balance luxury and performance under the same retractable roof. The BMW 3 Series convertible does a credible job of maintaining the sleek profile of the 3 Series coupe, and while trunk space is limited the vehicle offers a folding rear seat that helps when carrying larger items. Like all versions of the BMW 3 Series, the convertible's steering and suspension response are excellent, and power is also respectable even in base 328i trim where the automobile benefits from the installation of a 230 horsepower, 3.0-liter six-cylinder motor. The BMW 335i convertible sees an engine department upgrade in the form of a turbocharged edition of the same unit that delivers a healthy 300 horses and either model can be had with the choice of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
Top Hardtop Convertibles: 06. 2012 Infiniti G37
The 2012 Infiniti G37 entry-level luxury car is one of the newest entries on the list of hardtop convertibles. The stylish Infiniti G37 convertible enjoys gorgeous looks with the top up or down, and while it weighs significantly more than its coupe sibling the vehicle's 325 horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 does a commendable job of dealing with the automobile's extra heft. The G37 convertible's three-piece roof was specifically design to be slim enough to store in the trunk without forcing engineers to widen the automobile's haunches, and the drop-top's advanced seven-speed automatic transmission includes paddle shifters so drivers can take over the shifting duties should the mood strike them.
Top Hardtop Convertibles: 07. 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class can be considered the bigger brother to the SLK-Class. One of the top hardtop convertibles when it comes to features and exclusivity, the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class continues a long tradition of top-down motoring for the nameplate. The SL-Class is notable for the inclusion of innovations like the AirScarf, which keeps passengers warm on chilly fall and spring days, as well as a glass panel (similar to that found in the SLK-Class) that keeps the cabin bright even with the roof closed. The SL-Class doesn't want for power thanks to its standard 5.5-liter V-8 engine that generates 382 horsepower, output that is managed by a seven-speed automatic transmission.
Top Hardtop Convertibles: 08. 2012 Ferrari California
The 2012 Ferrari California injects some exotic flavor into our list of hardtop convertibles. The Ferrari California is not a hardcore sports car like many of the brand's offerings but rather a grand touring car that is intended to be enjoyed year-round. The California is the first eight-cylinder model from Maranello to feature a front-mounted engine, coupe-like quiet with the roof up, and a dual-clutch automated manual transmission. It also eats up the road with ease thanks to its 4.3-liter V-8, whose 453 horsepower enable the California to reach a top speed of just under 200 miles per hour.
Top Hardtop Convertibles: 09. 2012 Volvo C70
The 2012 Volvo C70 - like the VW Eos - is aimed at European car fans who want a comfortable, feature-rich car without having to pay the staggering prices associated with German luxury brands. The Volvo C70 is often spoken of as one of the best hardtop convertibles for those who prize safety as well as interior room, as its rear seat doesn't exact too much of a legroom penalty. The C70 is motivated by a 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine that makes use of a turbocharger in order to push out 227 horsepower. A five-speed automatic transmission is charged with handling the gear shifting duties for the Swedish drop-top.Top Hardtop Convertibles: 10. 2012 Jeep Wrangler
The 2012 Jeep Wrangler might seem like a surprise entry onto this list of the best hardtop convertibles, but there's no debating the fact that its open air capabilities are part of what has made it such a popular SUV for so many years. Both the Jeep Wrangler and the four-door Wrangler Unlimited can be ordered with a removable hardtop in addition to the vehicle's standard soft top, which is a boon to those who plan to use the vehicle's four-wheel drive system during the winter months. The off-road champion has been gifted with a new, 3.6-liter V-6 for 2012, and this unit can be counted on to produce 285 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is provided free of charge with the Wrangler, while a five-speed automatic is available as an option.