Great convertibles for the summer season
The trouble with buying a convertible is the premium you pay for that retracting top and open-air driving. But there is not much that feels better on the right kind of day than a topless ride.
Now that the weather has warmed up all around the country, it's getting harder and harder to suppress that desire for open-air driving. The thought of the sun warming the back of your neck, the wind rushing through your hair and over your ears, the smell of the grass and trees is enough to get anyone thinking about taking a saw to their hardtops or, more practically, hitting the dealership for a great value convertible.
Autoblog's editors have compiled a list of what we believe are the five best drop-top buys that provide the best value and the most driving fun. Click through to see what we like for summer 2016.
When Size Matters: 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible
The Cooper S Convertible starts at $30,450, which is $250 more than last year's model. The options add up quickly; Our fully-loaded testers were almost $10k more than the base price, with room to go further north from there. Be frugal with the options and you'll get most of the Cooper S Convertible's charms, but spend the $500 for the standalone adaptive suspension.
That being said, the inline-three in the regular Cooper is perky and has an offbeat, enticing growl. We've sampled the engine in the Hardtop; it's also available in the Convertible (and knocks $3,650 off the Cooper S price), and those amazing Dynamic Dampers are also a $500 option. The I3 represents a 55 hp downgrade, but with a manual is good for a 8.3 second run to 60 mph – a second and a half off the Cooper S's 0-60 time, but who's clocking a Mini Convertible with a stopwatch? It might be a smarter choice for budget-conscious sun-worshipers still interested in hitting twisty roads with the top down. - Alex Kierstein
Executive Express: 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class
In our First Drive of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL, we opened the discussion of its overhauled face with the gentle phrase "a dramatic rework," then laid straight into bare-knuckle boxing with "we can't avoid the elephant in the garage: styling." For 2017 the fix is in, mainly a revised front end that repairs almost all the damage. With the prettifying comes additional performance, and continuing education in why the SL-Class model range represents four treads on the stairway to roadster heaven. The pivotal achievement is that the SL450 is an incredibly satisfying starting point.
Known as the SL400 presently, the SL450 carries over the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, but brings with it 32 more horsepower and 15 more pound-feet of torque, totaling 362 horses and 369 lb-ft. AMG-tuned SL63 and SL65 models carry over, and we'll have a full report on those darlings in the not-too-distant future.
The 2017 variant is all SL all the time during cosmopolitan jaunts. You can raise and lower the roof at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour, but the operation must be initiated from a standstill. Perhaps most importantly for the SL buyer, the blue chip convertible still attracts lots of looks from lots of eyes wherever you take it. This time, however, especially among those in the know, it's for all the right reasons. - Jonathan Ramsey