Everyone should own a convertible at least once in their lives, because when the weather is warm, there’s no better feeling than dropping the top and driving under the big blue sky. Here are ten of the droptop cars we love, arranged in order from least to most expensive.
10 Droptop Cars We Love
Photo Credit: FCA Media
Fiat 500c — $20,395
Technically, the 500c isn’t a full convertible; the entire roof is made of cloth, and it slides back and down, taking the rear window with it. The door frames stay in place, but the 500c lets in plenty of sunlight and has the added advantage of being able to open and close its top at any speed. It’s also the least-expensive open-top car you can buy. We love the 500c for its cheeky design and bright colors, which extend to the inside with a body-color dash. If you love to drive, check out the 500c Abarth: It has an eager turbocharged engine with a loud exhaust note, and the open top is the perfect way to enjoy the delicious noises it makes.
Photo Credit: Mazda
Mazda MX-5 Miata — $24,915
One of our favorite droptops is also one of the most affordable. The rear-drive Mazda MX-5 Miata is a two-seat roadster that is a thrill to drive. Sport and Grand Touring models are tuned for comfort, but if you live for corners, the mid-line Club, with its stiffer suspension, is the MX-5 you’ll want. The lightweight top is manual but can be opened and closed with one hand. Freshly redesigned for 2016, the Miata is simply one of the best driver’s cars on the market, and proves that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good time behind the wheel. If driving the Mazda MX-5 doesn’t make you smile, then the muscles in your face probably aren’t working properly.
Photo Credit: Volkswagen
Volkswagen Beetle — $25,490
convertibles aren’t the most practical cars, but the Beetle does have the advantage of a halfway-decent back seat, something most convertibles lack. Accommodations aside, there’s a lot to like about the Volkswagen Beetle: it has a big top that lets in lots of sun; it’s reasonably priced; and it gets decent gas mileage. It’s also enjoyable to drive and especially comfortable for long road trips. And let’s not forget that whole nostalgia thing; the Beetle plays up its flower-child roots, and we think that adds to the fun factor. Volkswagen offers several special editions such as the Denim and Dune, so you can find the Bug that fits you best.
Photo Credit: MINI
MINI Cooper — $25,950
A lot of people like the MINI Cooper because it’s cute, but we love it because it’s a great driver’s car, especially the hot-rod Cooper S model—it has lots of power and will cling to the corners like a much bigger and much more expensive sports car. But don’t dismiss the base model droptop, which has a fuel-efficient three-cylinder turbocharged engine that zips along quickly and gets great fuel economy, even with an automatic transmission. The Cooper’s base price is reasonable, but MINI offers about a zillion different options to customize the car—and they also add to the price, so be prepared for sticker shock if you opt for a well kitted-out Cooper.
Photo Credit: General Motors
Buick Cascada — $33,065
The Buick Cascada is one of the newest players on the American convertible market—though the car has been around for a while in Europe, where it’s sold as an Opel. We like this new convertible: it’s handsome; comfortable for two (though not very roomy for four); and satisfying to drive. It’s also very, very stiff—and in the convertible world, that’s a good thing, as roofless cars can feel a bit floppy (most cars rely on their roof for stiffness, and lopping it off weakens the structure). Cascada gets its structural rigidity from side sills the size of Grecian columns; they add weight that takes the edge off the turbocharged engine’s acceleration, but for open-top cruising, the Cascada gets a thumbs up from us.
Photo Credit: General Motors
Chevrolet Camaro — $33,305
We love Chevrolet’s freshly-redesigned Camaro convertible droptop. Chevy downsized the car and stripped out a couple hundred pounds of weight, making this bruiser more agile and a lot quicker. Even with the base engine—a 275-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder—the Camaro is very quick, and the big V8 found in SS models delivers all the thunder and the glory of the muscle car days (with even quicker acceleration and better reliability). The Camaro is far from practical; the trunk is small and the back seat is virtually uninhabitable. But you’re looking for the genuine drop-top muscle car experience, the Camaro delivers it with a vengeance.
Photo Credit: Audi
Audi A3 Cabriolet — $36,600
Another relative newcomer—the A3 Cabrio was introduced in 2015—the A3 comes as a real surprise thanks to an affordable price, at least by German luxury convertible standards. Like all Audis, the A3 is good fun to drive, whether you opt for the 1.8-liter front-wheel-drive version, or the 2.0 with Quattro all-wheel-drive. Back seat and trunk space are limited, as you’d expect from a convertible of this size, and we suppose the design could be a little more interesting; the A3 does tend to fade into the background. But if you’re buying a convertible for your own enjoyment, rather than to impress the neighbors, we think you’ll like the A3 Cabrio just as much as we do.
Photo Credit: Jaguar
Jaguar F-Type — $68,100
Man, what a car! The Jaguar F-TYPE is a vehicle that overwhelms our senses with its mind-bending acceleration, physics-defying handling, and muscle-car soundtrack. It reminds us a lot of the Corvette, but with proper English manners and pedigree. Though exterior styling is simple, the interior is as elegant as you would expect, though all notions of proper behavior are instantly vaporized the second you fire up the engine. Both the V6 and V8 are loud and fast, and frankly we’re hard pressed to pick between them. Be warned, however: You may love this droptop, but once you start piling on the options, this cat can get very expensive.
Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz SL-Class — $85,050
If you value subtlety, this is not the convertible for you. The SL is a rolling institution, a big retractable hardtop that reeks of success and tells the world you’ve made it and you want to be seen. The latest iteration of the SL gets more aggressive lines that give it a sportier look, and underhood choices range from a turbocharged V6 to a gigantic V12. Quick as a shot and as solid as a bank vault, it’s almost impossible to find fault with this well-polished gem of a car, and that is exactly what we expect from a car at the SL’s price point.
Photo Credit: Rolls Royce
Rolls-Royce Dawn — $335,000
If you’re going to dream, dream big! This is the ultimate in convertible opulence, a car that brings new meaning to the word “exclusive”. A drop-top version of the Wraith coupe, the Dawn’s interior is slathered in wood, leather and aluminum (remember to pronounce it “al-u-min-i-um”), with giant doors that are hinged at the rear—and don’t worry about closing them, because there’s a button to do that for you. If we had the money, we’d buy this big drop-top Roller in a heartbeat—after all, what other car lets you look down on Bentley owners as the proletariats they really are?