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.
1) 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata
The 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata has long been prized by performance fans enamored of its lightweight design and track-ready chassis, but when ordered in Club or Grand Touring trim the convertible also offers the option of a power retractable hardtop. This piece of equipment civilizes the Mazda MX-5 Miata's driving experience to a fair degree, even with the sportier looks and stickier tires afforded by the Club edition. Grand Touring models include niceties such as heated leather seats and an upgraded stereo system, and both versions of the retractable hardtop Miatas are matched with a 2.0-liter, 167-horsepower four-cylinder engine that can be shifted via either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission (though auto-equipped versions take a slight hit in horsepower).
2) 2015 BMW Z4
The 2015 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 six-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 six-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.
4) 2015 BMW 4 Series
The BMW 4 Series was all new for last year, and the 2015 model is still a breath of fresh air. 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 2015 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 four-cylinder with 241 horsepower and an eight-speed shiftable automatic transmission, while the latter is powered by a 3.0-liter six-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.
5) 2015 Volkswagen Eos
The 2015 Volkswagen Eos, which is in its final model year, is something of an outlier in the VW lineup. A little bit larger than a Volkswagen Golf yet not exactly a mid-size 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 four-cylinder engine that is turbocharged to produce 200 horsepower. Additional performance is on hand in the Eos thanks to its six-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.
6) 2015 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 2015 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 V-12 that displaces 6.0 liters and produces an alarming 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. A seven-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.
7) 2015 Infiniti Q60 Convertible
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 V-6, puts 325 horsepower to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission. This generation of the Infiniti Q60 has been around for a while (despite its recent rebadging) so although the exterior still looks good, the cabin's getting to the point where it could use a touch-up. Still, if your tastes run toward something a little less flashy, the 2015 Q60 is worth a look.
8) 2015 Ferrari 458 Spider
The 2015 Ferrari 458 Spider illustrates how the Italian exotic automaker is increasingly marrying luxury with performance, even in its more accessible models. The Ferrari 458 Spider is a pure performance weapon, making use of a 4.5-liter V-8 engine that is good for 570 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission helps the convertible reach 60 mph in a stunning 3.4 seconds, 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.
9) 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG
The 2015 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 V-8 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-mph sprint, and a seven-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting duties for the luxurious convertible.
10) 2015 BMW M4
We've already discussed the 2015 BMW 4 Series convertible models, but this high-performance variant deserves a mention of its very own. The 2015 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-six that puts out 425 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, paired to a six-speed manual or optional seven-speed double-clutch transmission. Lightweight staggered wheels are fitted over M-exclusive carbon ceramic brakes, and, if that's not enough, there are options galore.