The Autobytel 2013 Convertible of the Year is a category that ranges far and wide in terms of the candidates that were presented for our consideration. Not only did our short list feature include affordable Japanese roadsters and top-tier British drop-tops but it also covered the performance gamut from fun-in-the-sun daily drivers to white-knuckle tire shredders. Convertible buyers are facing strong choices for 2013, and it was a struggle to pare down our crop of contenders to just the cream of the crop.
Read on to learn about the three finalists for Autobytel 2013 Convertible of the Year.
It's not the fastest, the priciest, or even the most exclusive candidate on our list, but the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible's x-factor played a significant role in it capturing the 2013 Autobytel Convertible of the Year award. The all-new Volkswagen Beetle Convertible takes the more aggressive lines of the recently-redesigned Beetle coupe and lops off the top, creating a handsome open air car that is more classic than retro. Even more impressive is Volkswagen's decision to include the 140 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engine on the Beetle Convertible's options list alongside the base five-cylinder mill and the turbocharged gas engine shared with the VW GTI. This makes the drop-top Beetle the only diesel-powered 'vert on the market, and gives it exceptional fuel mileage of 41-mpg on the highway.
Reversing the trend of plus-size MINI models was this year's 2013 MINI Roadster, a smaller version of the Cooper convertible that has enjoyed considerable sales success. Somewhat polarizing looks set the MINI Roadster apart from the larger Cooper, but underneath its skin it comes with the same 1.6-liter and turbocharged four-cylinder units found across the Cooper lineup. You can even pick up a John Cooper Works version of the Roadster that sports 208 horsepower - just don't expect to be giving too many rides due to the car's lack of a rear seat.
The 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a perennial favorite on any list of the world's best convertibles - and often a contender when it comes to the most fun-to-drive sports cars as well, a testament to the 'add lightness' design philosophy that has long governed the roadster's development. Power might be modest from the vehicle's 167 horse, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but the Miata's chassis is top-shelf. The vehicle can be had with the choice of either a traditional soft top or a more four seasons-friendly power retractable hard top, adding a cold weather dimension to the iconic automobile.
The 2013 Jaguar XKR-S is a reminder that, when pushed, Jaguar is more than capable of drawing from its competition-filled past and building a car that draws from the scary side of the performance segment. The Jaguar XKR-S convertible offers up 550 horsepower from a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 engine, and it also adds special 20-inch wheels, a suspension system that can deal with the car's high speed antics, aerodynamic add-ons to keep the convertible planted firmly on the pavement, and unique sport seats so that drivers aren't ejected by centrifugal force while cornering the wild cat.
The editorial team of Autobytel has chosen the previous vehicles as the best of what we have seen in the category for 2013, and while there are many others in this class that probably deserve some kudos as well, we'd love to hear which you would choose for yourself. Let us know on the Autobytel Twitter or the Autobytel Facebook page.
2013 Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ
2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
2013 Ford Fusion
2013 Cadillac ATS
2013 Jeep Wrangler
2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
2013 Porsche Boxster S
2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid
2013 RAM 1500
2013 Mazda MAZDA5