These are the most wallet friendly hair tusslers on the market today.
Convertibles tend to be aspirational vehicles that cost thousands more than their tin top counterparts. That is the common wisdom anyway and often why shoppers dismiss them out of hand as expensive toys for the well-heeled. Well, in certain situations this may well be the case but here we have rounded up ten of the most affordable new convertibles on the market to show you that sometimes you can have your cake and eat it. With the roof down.
The 2-series is not the cheapest sporty coupe around but it is just about the most cost-effective way into BMW ownership. You still get the rear-wheel-drive dynamics and strong performance that are hallmarks of the brand. Even the base 248-hp 230i Convertible gets to 60 mph in 5.6-seconds while sipping fuel at an overall 34 mpg. As with most German luxury cars you should be careful of ticking too many options but a few like the $500 Driver Assistance Package are well worth it. Price increase over hard top: $5,800
The Camaro is an undoubtedly cool looking car, made even more so by the removal of its roof. Sure, the V8-powered versions make all the right noises but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far then the base 275-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four is actually rather good. If you really can’t bear the thought of a four-pot powering your Camaro then the naturally aspirated 335-hp 3.6-liter V6 is a $1,495 option. The base 1LS trim doesn’t get you much but power front seats, rearview camera and 7-inch touchscreen do come standard. Price increase over hard top: $6,000
The Mustang is one of the only two non-SUV vehicles Ford will be selling in the not too distant future. Tto avoid them axing this American icon in the future it is up to us to go out there and keep buying them. The affordable 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost versions make it easier to do so. It gets 310 hp as standard and there are plenty of tuners willing to push that number much higher. There are tons of options available but even in base form the Mustang is a sweet ride. Price increase over hard top: $5,500
For the pure roadster experience you are going to struggle to beat the MX-5 Miata. It may not offer big horsepower but there is not much weight for the 155-hp 2.0-liter engine to push around either. The Sport Trim is cheapest and offers standard LED headlights, 7-inch color touchscreen and a 6-speed manual transmission. For an additional $3,860 you can have the Club trim which adds an LSD and sport suspension (Useful stuff for track days). Price increase over hard top: No real hardtop alternative but RF hardtop convertible actually costs $2,755 more in Club trim.
The 124 Spider is more than just a rebadged Mazda Miata, it gets its own Italian-esque styling and uses Fiat’s own turbocharged engines. The Classica trim comes with a 160-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and a short-throw 6-speed manual shifter. There are also the more expensive Lusso and Abarth trims but stick to the base model as it offers everything you need in a back-to-basics roadster. Price increase over hard top: No hardtop alternative.
The Beetle is not quite as successful a retro-remake as the Mini but it has evolved over the years to become a rather decent car in its own right. The sole powertrain option is a 174-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four combined with a 6-speed automatic transmission. There is no need to venture beyond the base model here, you need only spend an extra $25 for the flower vase which sticks on to the dashboard. Flower not included. Price increase over hard top: No hardtop alternative but a similarly equipped 1.8-liter Golf Hatchback is around $2,500 cheaper.
If you're looking for a combination of driving fun, customizability and enough space for two adults and a pair of very short friends, then this is the car for you. The Mini Convertible is fun and almost sensibly priced in base 134-hp 1.5-liter form, although you can spend over $40,000 for a fully-specced 228-hp JCW model. The sane option lies somewhere between these two extremes in the very capable 189-hp Cooper S. Price increase over hard top: $5,000
The previous generation JK Wrangler is still available from dealers for a little longer so if you want a budget convertible that can tackle the (very) rough stuff then stop reading this and order one pronto. The JK Wrangler is no boulevard cruiser but in its final guise is far more polished than ever before. You get a strong 285-hp 3.6-liter V6, Command-Trac 4x4 system and a washable interior with drain plugs. The all-new JL Wrangler starts at approximately $3,500 more so it is up to you whether the enhanced refinement is worth the extra outlay. Price increase over hard top: $595 (This is for the Sunrider Soft Top)
The Smart is perhaps the ultimate city car. Its tiny size and electric drivetrain make it ideal for short hops around the city. The Cabrio version starts at the mid-range Passion trim level so you get some decent equipment and the 80-hp electric motor feels strong at city speeds and you get up to 102 miles range in combined driving. It isn’t particularly cheap but with up to $7,500 in federal tax incentives and potentially additional state dependent offers it starts to make a lot more sense. Price increase over hard top: $2,710
The Fiat 500 is a great city car, offering a level of style and customizability that sets it out from other budget offerings. The addition of a convertible body style only adds to its appeal and it comes at a small additional expense. In Pop trim you get a 101-hp 1.4-liter engine, remote keyless entry and even a 5-inch touchscreen. Aside from the numerous exterior and interior personalizations on offer you can add a lot of sporty aggression too if you opt for the 160-hp Abarth trim. That does add a hefty $5,000 to the base price though. Price increase over hard top: $1,495
After assessing a range of alternatives, we found that opting for a convertible will cost you approximately 15% more up front. That may amount to not all that much more each month if you are buying your new car on a lease plan. Whether the benefits of being able to enjoy roof down motoring is worth more to you than spending that money on more standard equipment or a bigger engine is a personal choice. At least it is good to know that the added costs of choosing a drop top are not as severe as most people think.