It might not feel like it yet, but summer is just around the corner. The warmer weather brings with it a yearning for top-down motoring that is felt by thousands of drivers every year, which in turn leads to a surge in new convertible sales. The number of convertibles available on the market has grown appreciably over the past few years as more automakers dip their toes into this sun-loving segment. At the same time, traditional convertible offerings have become more competitive due to redesigns and new platforms hitting the streets.
Let’s take a look at 10 new convertibles that are perfect for open-air driving during the summer months.
The 2011 Ford Mustang convertible combines recently refreshed retro-modern styling with an interior that is capable of accommodating four adults in relative comfort. The Mustang convertible’s trunk also checks in at 9.7 cubic feet, which is quite reasonable for a mid-size two-door convertible.
The 2011 Ford Mustang convertible offers the availability of two new drivetrains. The entry-level 3.7-liter V-6 engine provides plenty of muscle, pushing out 305 horses and 280 lb-ft of torque while offering an exceptional 30-mpg fuel economy rating during highway driving. For fans of burning rubber, the Ford Mustang convertible can also be had in GT trim, which introduces a 5.0-liter V-8 that is tuned to provide 412 horses and 390 lb-ft of torque. Each engine can be matched with either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission.
The 2011 Chevrolet Camaro convertible is the traditional nemesis of the Ford Mustang convertible in terms of sales and performance. All-new for the 2011 model year, the Camaro convertible offers a power top, a reinforced body structure and the same angular retro-modern styling that has made the coupe edition of the muscle car so appealing.
Like the Mustang, the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro convertible starts out with a robust V-6 engine under the hood. Offering up 312 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque, the engine makes use of either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission to run through the gears. The Camaro SS convertible drops in a 6.2-liter V-8 that grinds out 426 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, sent to the rear wheels via the same transmission options.
The 2011 BMW 3 Series convertible provides an upscale European luxury experience combined with the handling dynamics and responsive drivetrain that BMW has become known for. The 3 Series convertible also offers a retractable hardtop in place of a fabric top, which gives it additional all-season versatility as well as improved security and reduced road noise while the roof is in place. The metal roof does eat up more trunk space than a cloth design, however.
The 2011 BMW 3 Series convertible can be equipped with one of two inline six-cylinder engines, each of which displaces 3.0-liters. The first generates 230 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque in the 328ci model, while the second makes use of a turbocharger to generate 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque in the 335ci. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic, with the more powerful engine also showing an edge in fuel mileage (19-mpg city, 28-mpg highway).
The soon-to-be-available 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet represents one of the newest summer convertibles around. This two-door, drop-top edition of the Nissan Murano mid-size crossover vehicle provides standard all-wheel drive, seating for four and a unique profile that looks like no other crossover. The Murano CrossCabriolet also offers a rear sunroof to let a little more light shine down on backseat passengers. For added safety, pop-up rollover protection bars are located behind each rear seating position.
Aside from its reinterpreted body work and a reinforced chassis, the 2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet borrows much of its running gear and features from the solid-roof crossover of the same name. The convertible SUV is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that generates 265 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque and is matched with a continuously variable automatic transmission. The vehicle also comes with a host of premium features cribbed from the top of the line Murano.
The 2011 Chevrolet Corvette convertible is the topless version of America’s most iconic sports car. Featuring only a slight weight gain over its coupe cousin, and very similar chassis stiffness, the Corvette roadster offers world-class agility and braking as well as the availability of a power top, a head-up display and leather sport seats. The two-seat convertible is motivated by a 430 horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 engine that also cranks out a tire-melting 424 lb-ft of torque. Despite this high level of output, fuel mileage remains a respectable 26-mpg during highway cruising.
The 2011 Chevrolet Corvette convertible can also be ordered in GS trim, which installs a more responsive suspension system, a unique aero treatment, and performance-oriented gearing in either the transmission (six-speed manual models) or the rear end (six-speed automatic models with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.).
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class offers luxury convertible shoppers with a roadster that balances comfort with performance while at the same time cutting a very stylish figure. One of the first compact two-seat convertibles to come equipped with a retractable hard top, the SLK can be equipped with a Sport package that dials up suspension response and adds larger wheels in order to improve grip and handling.
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLK features two V-6 engine options. The SLK300 comes with a 3.0-liter motor that offers up 228 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. The SLK350 trumps that output thanks to 300 horses and 265 lb-ft of its own from its 3.5-liter unit. Both motors send their power to the rear wheels, and while the SLK300 can be had with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic transmission, the SLK300 is only available with the latter gearbox. Versions of the roadster equipped with the Sport package benefit from steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters in automatic trim.
The 2011 Chrysler 200 convertible is a new nameplate for the refreshed and revised Chrysler Sebring platform of old. Some of the most important improvements made to this mid-size convertible include a more well-appointed interior as well as slicker exterior styling and a re-tuned suspension. The vehicle, which is set to become available shortly, also offers the choice of either a soft top or a retractable hard top, giving the affordable 200 convertible a practical advantage in its class.
Powering the 2011 Chrysler 200 convertible right out of the box is a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that is good for 173 ponies and 166 lb-ft of torque. Those seeking additional power can opt for an available 3.6-liter V-6 engine, which pumps out 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The redesigned V-6 benefits from a six-speed automatic transmission, while the four-cylinder is offered with a four-speed auto unit in base form and the six-speed gearbox on higher trim levels.
The 2011 MINI Cooper convertible is proof that good things can come in small packages. The tiniest ragtop on our list, the MINI Cooper convertible manages to maintain the fun-to-drive character of the Cooper hatchback while adding the additional bonus of an open cockpit car. All Cooper convertibles come with a power top as standard equipment – one that includes a sunroof – as well as the option of leather seats and a navigation system.
The lightweight 2011 MINI Cooper starts out with a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine between the front fenders that provides 121 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage for this thrifty engine shows as 27-mpg city and 35-mpg highway, making it one of the most efficient convertibles on our list. Also available are the Cooper S convertible, which makes use of a turbocharger to squeeze out an additional 60 horses and 63 lb-ft of torque, and a John Cooper Works special model that provides 208 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque in total. Transmission choices for the Cooper convertible consist of a mix of six-speed manual and automatic options.
The 2011 Volkswagen Eos is a premium mid-size convertible that offers the versatility of a retractable hard top with the German styling and comfort that those familiar with the upper levels of Volkswagen’s lineup have grown accustomed to. This hard top even includes a sunroof feature. Standard equipment on the Eos also includes dual automatic climate control and a touchscreen stereo system, while leather seats and a navigation system can be installed as options.
All models of the 2011 Volkswagen Eos come with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that offers 200 turbocharged horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. The Eos shifts can shift itself through a dual-clutch six-speed automated manual transmission, or buyers can choose to handle the duties on their own via a six-speed traditional manual. Fuel mileage for the Eos is rated at 31-mpg during highway cruising.
The 2011 Audi S5 Cabriolet provides a taste of high performance luxury combined with a striking interior design and the tenacious grip of Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system – a bonus for convertible drivers who have to deal with snow and ice during the winter months. The S5 Cabriolet features a power soft top and an available neck heating system that is designed to keep occupants toasty even during nippy fall weather.
The 2011 Audi S5 Cabriolet differs from its V-8-powered coupe sibling by virtue of its 3.0-liter, supercharged V-6 power plant. Offering up 333 horses and 325 lb-ft of torque, this engine is matched with a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission as its only gearbox option. Despite two fewer cylinders, the S5 Cabriolet can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds – only a half second behind the S5 Coupe.