Not everyone loves driving with the top down. Yet I can think of no better way to welcome the warm and sunny weather than driving a convertible. No matter what you call them (convertible, ragtop, Targa, soft-top, cabriolet, spider, etc.), convertibles have somehow lost their favor among the sea of new crossovers and modern SUVs.
It’s easy to understand why.
Setting The Stage
Convertibles are not the roomiest or the most practical choice. In some cases, a convertible is usually “choppier” than an equivalent coupe with a proper roof. Some say the wind rustling your hairdo is overrated, and I get that. Speaking on behalf of true, dyed-in-the-wool car lovers, I would say nothing gets your pulse racing and the emotions flowing better than driving a convertible.
However, if you’re considering a convertible (maybe even for the first time), this list will help. Here are the top 10 convertibles you can buy today, based on performance, price and overall curb appeal. While this list is not exhaustive, it does show a number of the exciting options on the market today in terms of a convertible.
Porsche 718 Boxster
Porsche has something in store for the Boxster in 2019: the 718 Boxster T. The T designation stands for Touring and comes with an upgraded drivetrain and suspension. This is the Boxster to get if you want better handling in your convertible car.
However, the base 718 Boxster is still a good deal at $59,000. The mid-engine layout has a number of benefits, not the least of which include more nimble handling. And since the motor is sitting directly behind your ears, you get the aural sensation of a true sports car all the way to a top speed of 170 mph.
The base Porsche 718 Boxster makes good use of a 300 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, but we prefer the Boxster S with a larger, 2.5-liter mill churning out 350 horsepower and 309 lb-ft. of torque. The GTS is even better with a 365 horsepower version of the 2.5-liter turbo in the Boxster S. All models come standard with a six-speed manual, an added bonus for some no doubt. As much as we love shifting our own gears, we prefer the more intelligent nature of the optional PDK dual-clutch gearbox.
No matter which model you choose, the 2019 Porsche 718 Boxster is guaranteed to be a fun and exhilarating driving experience – even when the weather turns gloomy. The convertible top in a Porsche 718 Boxster takes less than 10 seconds to open or close.
Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet
It seems Mercedes-Benz has a treat for potential buyers of the 2019 E-Class Cabriolet. Of course, the folding roof (derived from the S-Class Cabriolet) that opens and closes in 20 seconds is a given. But Mercedes-Benz decided to ditch the base E 400 trim for the E 450. This means a more powerful turbo V6 with 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. You also get four proper seats, dual-zone climate control, LED exterior lighting, and an adaptive suspension.
If you want a more relaxing convertible, the E-Class Cabriolet is the best you can find in the $67,000 price range. It comes with Mercedes’ Aircap wind deflector to lessen turbulence inside the cabin. And since some people, like Jonathan Ross, love driving a convertible in the cold, the E-Class Cabriolet features a unique Airscarf neck warmer system, which does exactly what it sounds.
And for those who want a faster version of the chop-top E-Class, there’s the AMG E 53. It comes with a mild hybrid powertrain system and all-wheel drive. With 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft. of torque, the AMG E-Class Cabriolet is nothing short of a muscle car.
Jaguar F-Type Convertible
The Jaguar F-Type is a potent sports car already, and the convertible just enhances its already ambitious character. The F-Type has always been an old-school Jaguar sports car: flamboyant, boisterous, and highly impractical. The convertible is still that, just dialed all the way to eleven, and we love it for that.
It starts with the shape. It has all the basic ingredients of what makes a car beautiful to the eyes. This includes the long hood, swooping profile, and swollen rear arches. It also has the power to boot. The base P300 F-Type receives a 2.0-liter turbo four-banger with 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque. The P340 F-Type gets a more powerful supercharged 3.0-liter V6 with 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft. torque. The P380 gets a tuned version of the blown V6 for a total output of 380 horsepower and 339 lb-ft. of torque.
The R and SVR trim receive a brawny, supercharged 5.0-liter V8 with 550 and 575 horsepower, respectively. Interestingly enough, the base F-Type is only available with rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic. The V6 and V8 models can be optioned with a six-speed manual and all-wheel drive.
With so many models and configurations to choose from, there’s a right Jaguar F-Type for everyone. And to further sweeten the deal, you can raise or lower the roof of the F-Type Convertible in around 12 seconds. Pricing starts at $64,700.
The Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe is discontinued for 2019. This means the Spider or convertible version is the only model available, and it’s all the better. The Alfa Romeo 4C is a lightweight and nimble machine that also happens to look the part. The 4C Spider is the closest you can get to an Italian mid-engine sports car without an exorbitant price tag.
And even though the 2019 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider is not exactly cheap, the $66,900 base price gets you exotic good looks, razor-sharp handling, and the exclusivity of having an Alfa Romeo roadster. Unfortunately, you also get a sparse cabin with little to no cargo room, but who are we to complain?
Instead of shoehorning a V6 or V8, Alfa Romeo kept it sane with an all-aluminum, 1.7-liter turbo four-cylinder. The small motor churns out 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque. Those figures may seem paltry, but the F1-inspired carbon-fiber tub makes the Alfa Romeo 4C an extremely lightweight sports car. In fact, it weighs less than 2,500 lbs. and races from zero to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds.
BMW i8 Roadster
The BMW i8 Roadster looks like a exotic car. It is also priced like a high-performance sports car at around $163,000. Take the roof off and what you have is a futuristic-looking cruiser that cares for the environment. Different from the others on this list, the BMW i8 Convertible is a plug-in hybrid with an electric motor and 11.6 kWh battery pack.
It also comes with a small, 1.5-liter turbo three-cylinder gasoline engine. Power output is quite modest at 228 horsepower and 236 lb-ft. of torque. Combine this with the 141 horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque from the electric motor (for a total output of 369 horsepower), and what you have is a BMW convertible that rushes to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and tops out at 155.
The plethora of standard features include automatic headlights, LED exterior lighting, adjustable suspension, front and rear parking sensors, leather seats, a heads-up display, and a premium Harman Kardon audio system with satellite radio. The roof folds up or down in less than 15 seconds.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata is available with a soft top or folding hardtop (Miata RF). It remains the epitome of a compact and lightweight sports car that won’t hurt your budget. It’s also friendlier to the environment. The MX-5 Miata is one of the most fuel-efficient convertibles you can buy today (EPA-estimated 35 mpg combined).
Mazda engineers gave the Miata a bit more spunk for the 2019 model year. The venerable 2.0-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder now produces 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft. of torque. It also has a higher redline so you can make the engine scream louder for longer as you roll through the corners. Yet, for the more casual motorist, the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata performs admirably as a daily driver. The telescoping steering wheel and rearview camera make it just that much better.
The base Sport trim starts at $25,730 and includes 16-inch alloy rims, a manually-retractable soft top and glass rear window, keyless ignition, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, and LED headlights and taillights. The Club starts at $29,590 and includes larger 17-inch wheels, LED daytime running lights, a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein dampers, a limited-slip differential, and a shock tower brace. However, you only get the suspension upgrades if you choose the standard six-speed manual.
The Grand Touring starts at $30,780 and comes with an automatic climate control system, navigation, and adaptive headlights among other things.
If you prefer an Italian version of the Mazda MX-5, you can’t go wrong with the Fiat 124 Spider. The 124 Spider is basically a Mazda MX-5 underneath, but Fiat used their own suspension, engine, and transmission. The same goes for the luscious retro-inspired and low-slung styling. And since the 124 Spider is based on the underpinnings of the Mazda MX-5, you can expect slick handling and a sportier feel.
The base Classica trim ($25,190) includes 16-inch wheels, premium cloth seats, and a dual-tip exhaust. The Lusso ($27,795) adds 17-inch wheels, heated leather seats, and piano black accents. The Fiat 124 Spider Abarth ($29,990) includes a front and rear Bilstein sport suspension, quad-tip exhaust, and a mechanical limited-slip differential. The Classica and Lusso get a 160 horsepower 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder, while the Abarth gets a 165 horsepower version of the same motor. Rear-wheel drive is standard along with a six-speed manual while a six-speed automatic is optional.
While the Fiat 124 Spider is not a hardcore sports car, it still scoots from zero to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. This is the perfect convertible for those who can’t live with the robotic-shark look of the Mazda MX-5. However, like the Miata, the 124 Spider is more affordable than others on this list.
Audi A3 Cabriolet
The current Audi A3 Cabriolet is admittedly getting long in the tooth. However, it remains an appealing choice that combines adequate style, performance, and creature comforts. The 2019 Audi A3 Cabriolet is available in rear-wheel drive and Quattro all-wheel drive. The former gets a 184 horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, while the latter squeezes out 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque from the same mill. Both engines share a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The rear-wheel drive version reaches 60 mph in 6.9 seconds. The Quattro version achieves the same feat in 5.9 seconds, although both are limited to a top speed of 130 mph. The folding fabric roof on the Audi A3 Cabriolet retracts in 18 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph. It’s basically a small luxury convertible with a premium cabin and a bevy of modern features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, and a powerful audio system.
The 2019 Audi A3 Cabriolet starts at $38,900. The Quattro version is yours at $41,700. We prefer the Quattro version and think the upgrade is worth the money.
BMW 2-Series Convertible
The BMW 2-Series Convertible may look harmless but underneath the hood lurks a secret weapon. The 2019 BMW 2-Series Convertible in 230i trim makes use of a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder that churns out 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque. To put that into perspective, the base BMW 2-Series Convertible is more powerful than the Quattro version of the Audi A3 Cabriolet we just mentioned above!
How do you like them apples?
Now, throw the M240i into the equation and it suddenly becomes clear. With a turbocharged inline-six motor that produces 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque, the M240i is a compact hot-rod convertible that scoots to 60 mph in less than five seconds. Both engines are bolted to an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive, while a six-speed manual remains a no-cost option. You also have the option to choose BMW’s xDrive system (all-wheel drive).
The 2019 BMW 2-Series Convertible starts at $41,200 for the 230i and $50,400 for the M240i.
When it comes to fast convertibles, it’s hard not to include the 2019 Ford Mustang. The base EcoBoost and EcoBoost Premium have a torquey, turbo 2.3-liter four-banger; but the GT Premium is the one you want when it comes to really enjoying a drop-top Mustang.
The GT Premium Convertible comes with a burly 5.0-liter V8 with 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft. of torque. A six-speed manual is standard while a 10-speed automatic remains an option. The folding roof takes just seven seconds to raise or retract, one of the fastest on the market. When it comes to performance gained versus dollars spent, the Mustang is a no brainier. The EcoBoost Convertible starts at $31,620. Even jumping up to the GT Premium Convertible, it’s still a veritable bargain at $44,855.
Wildcard Choice: McLaren 720S Spider
If money is no object, we’ll choose the McLaren 720S Spider any day of the week. Who can say no to a twin-turbo V8 with 710 horsepower and a zero to 60 time of 2.8 seconds? (With 124 mph coming up in a scant 7.9 seconds). Who can resist the supercar styling, head-turning dihedral doors, hydraulic suspension, and carbon-ceramic brakes? This is the ultimate convertible supercar that doesn’t cost a million bucks. For those who have the money, the McLaren 720S is a sterling choice.
The retractable hardtop roof only takes 11 seconds to fold down. Another bonus.
Let Us Know Your Favorites
While there are numerous others we could include (for example, any number of classic convertibles), this list should whet your appetite for some open-air driving this summer. Let us know your favorite convertible from this list or otherwise on our Twitter page.
Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.