It used to be that snowbelters who loved summertime open-air driving were in for a tough winter due to the poor cold-weather protection afforded by a convertible's cloth top. Nowadays, the number of retractable hardtop convertibles available on the market has blossomed to the point where the selection of all-season drop tops is stronger than it has ever been in the history of the automobile. A retractable hardtop might steal more trunk space than a traditional soft top, but it’s hard to argue with the year-round capability that this type of design affords its buyers. Let's take a quick look at 10 of the best retractable hardtop convertibles that money can buy.
Photo Credit: Mazda USA
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
The Mazda MX-5 Miata has long been prized by performance fans enamored of its lightweight design and track-ready chassis. The latest generation of the Miata, which was introduced in 2015 for this model year, initially offered only a traditional soft top, but the Miata’s hardtop was recently revealed. The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF (which stands for “retractable fastback”) will be available a bit later in 2016. The car’s hardtop is actually constructed in several pieces, which tuck under the car’s rear pillars when opened. The entire process takes about 12 seconds and can be activated while the car is moving at low speeds. The machinery makes the car a bit heavier than the base Miata, but the difference should go unnoticed by most drivers. The 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF features the same drivetrain as the traditional softtop.
2016 BMW Z4
The 2016 BMW Z4 is an example of a power retractable hardtop roadster that significantly boosts the luxury quotient when compared against the Mazda. Featuring a cockpit swathed in leather, upscale materials, and advanced features such as smartphone connectivity and a suite of its own apps, the BMW Z4 is a retractable hardtop for the enthusiast driver who also wants to be coddled. There are three versions of the Z4 available for purchase: the sDrive28i (2.0-liter, 240-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder), the sDrive35i (3.0-liter, 300-horsepower turbocharged 6-cylinder), and the sDrive35is (same engine as the sDrive35i, but with the boost turned up to provide an additional 35 horses). The transmission for the Z4 is a 6-speed manual.
3) 2015 Lexus IS C
For 2015, Lexus' luxury hardtop convertible comes in two distinct models with different drivetrains.The body is the same, though: a coupe with a retractable hard roof that disappears in just 20 seconds. The cabin is upscale, refined, and quiet, even at high speeds. The base IS convertible is the 250, which is powered by a 2.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 204 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. The IS 350 C features a 3.5-liter V-6 that boasts 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. Both versions are rear-wheel drive and come with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. F Sport performance options help raise the bar for either model.
2016 BMW 4 Series
The BMW 4 Series lineup includes a coupe and a hatchback, but we’re here for the convertible. The retractable hardtop opens or closes in just 20 seconds with a push of a button. And, typical of BMW, there are plenty of comfort features included. Want to drive with the top down on an unseasonably chilly day? No problem, 'cause the neck warmers have you covered. The 2016 4 Series also includes the full suite of typical BMW equipment, like the iDrive infotainment system with BMW Apps. Side-view and top-view cameras help alleviate some of the poor visibility when the top is up. There are two trim levels of the 4 Series, the 428i and the 435i. The former is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 241 horsepower and an 8-speed shiftable automatic transmission, while the latter is powered by a 3.0-liter 6-cylinder with 300 ponies and the same transmission. Both trims of the BMW 4 Series convertible feature standard rear-wheel drive, but are also available with the brand's xDrive all-wheel drive system.
2016 Volkswagen Eos
The Volkswagen Eos, originally slated to end after the 2015 model year, appears to be pressing on a bit longer. The Eos is something of an outlier in the VW lineup. A little bit larger than a Volkswagen Golf yet not exactly a midsize car (as its semi-vestigial rear seating can attest to), the Volkswagen Eos appeals primarily to those seeking a stylish convertible that can also pull winter duty thanks to its standard retractable hardtop. Large enough to be comfortable as a highway cruiser, the VW Eos makes use of Volkswagen's tried, tested, and true 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that is turbocharged to produce 200 horsepower. Additional performance is on hand in the Eos thanks to its 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox, as is another nifty feature: its hardtop actually comes with a sunroof for days when you only want to let a little sunshine in.
2016 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG
The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class offers a retractable hardtop across its entire range of trim levels, but we're going to focus on one of the scariest convertibles that money can buy: the 2016 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG. What makes this two-seat luxury roadster such a frightening beast to behold? Popping the hood reveals the answer, as the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG is motivated by a twin-turbo V12 that displaces 6.0 liters and produces an alarming 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed automatic helps to put this prodigious power to the ground, and the traction-limited Mercedes-Benz leaps to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds when the go-pedal is mashed to the floor.
Photo Credit: Infiniti Media
2015 Infiniti Q60
If you're looking for a premium retractable hardtop from one of the Japanese manufacturers, you might have already noticed that the options are pretty slim. Fortunately, the 2015 Infiniti Q60 in its drop-top variant will meet most, if not all, of your needs. The 2015 Q60 convertible, powered by a 3.7-liter V6, puts 325 horsepower to the rear wheels through either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic transmission. This generation of the Infiniti Q60 has been around for a while, so although the exterior still looks good, the cabin's getting to the point where it could use a touch-up. Infiniti’s giving this convertible a year off while the Q60 coupe is retooled, so you can expect the 2015 model to hang around until the redesigned 2017 version becomes available. Still, if your tastes run toward something a little less flashy, the 2015 Q60 is worth a look.
2016 Ferrari 488 Spider
The 2016 Ferrari 488 Spider illustrates how the Italian exotic automaker is increasingly marrying luxury with performance. The Ferrari 488 Spider is a pure performance weapon, making use of a twin-turbocharged 3.9-liter V8 engine that is good for 661 horsepower and 561 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission helps the convertible reach 60 mph in a stunning three seconds flat, and the car's phenomenal chassis tuning makes it a capable handler at any speed. The fact that the engine is located at the rear of the car - where the retractable hardtop also rests when it's not shielding riders from the sun (because let's face it, this car is never going out in the rain) - is an impressive achievement from Ferrari's designers. And by the way, the hardtop can be operated while the car’s moving at speeds up to 25 mph.
2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG adds punch to the already formidable Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class platform. The roadster with the retractable hardtop gains a significant power boost when found in SLK55 AMG trim thanks to the brand's in-house tuning experts, who have shoehorned a 415-horsepower, 5.5-liter V8 into the compact car's engine bay. Also rated to produce 398 lb-ft of torque, the Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG smokes its tires on its way to a 4.5-second 0-60 sprint, and a 7-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting duties for the luxurious convertible.
2016 BMW M4
We've already discussed the 2016 BMW 4-Series convertible models, but this high-performance variant deserves a mention of its very own. The 2016 M4 features everything in the base 4-Series, but the price premium ensures it's more powerful and better looking. Under the hood sits a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that puts out 425 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, paired to a 6-speed manual transmission. Lightweight staggered wheels are fitted over M-exclusive carbon ceramic brakes, and, if that's not enough, there are options galore.