By the time I could afford a cabriolet, I too was topless, as in no hair.

Striking out on a sun-drenched highway in a convertible has to be a summer dream for many of us.

People talk about the joy of the breeze blowing through their hair but for many of us that’s a long-past fantasy. By the time I was able to afford a cabriolet – if we can be fancy for a moment – I too was topless, as in no hair.

It’s a different story today with convertibles available for wallets of all sizes. Retractable hard tops abound and even soft tops keep out winter storms.

For 2016, here are five recommendations for those in the market for a topless model, car that is.

With the exception of my number one choice, the other four cars don’t appear in any specific order of preference.

Mazda MX5

2016 MX-5

2016 MX-5

When Mazda introduced this little roadster 25 years ago as a Miata here, there were some chuckles among aficionados. Underpowered and undersized, were among the more complimentary comments cast in its direction.

Boy, were the know-alls wrong. Yes, it had some deficits but it has always been fun with a capital F. And it’s since sold a million, receiving more than 200 awards on the way to becoming the best-selling two-seater in the world and World Car of the Year in 2016.

The fourth generation MX-5, as it is now known, is one heck of a good looker. Earlier examples were, wrongly in my opinion, dismissed as girly cars. There’s no way you can dismiss this edition as anything but a fine, sporty cars worthy of its roadster descriptor.

It’s now powered with a SKYACTIV-G 2.0 L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine that will offer all you need to indulge your highway fantasy and sip gas at 8.8/6.9L/100 kms (city/hwy). Offered in three trims, starting at $31,900 and topping our $39,200 for the GT version.

Ford Mustang

2016 Ford Mustang GT convertible

2016 Ford Mustang GT convertible

It’s the original Pony car and it returns to that heritage in its aggressive, sporty, muscle-car styling. There’s a range of engines including the base 3.7-litre V6, a 2.3-litre EcoBoost and 5.0-litre V8.

The Ecoboost equipped version is going to set you back a minimum of $40,448 and the V8 GT has starting sticker price of $49,448. But let’s talk about the base V6 with the 6-speed manual and its minimalist $31,398 base price. Unless you want to race or show off, it does the job and at a relatively miserly 12.6 /8.5 hwy/10.8 combined L/100km for a beast it’s a deal.

Chevrolet Camaro

2016 Chevrolet Camaro convertible

2016 Chevrolet Camaro convertible

Staying with beef, the Chevrolet Camaro convertible offers some segment leading standard fare.

It has a fully automatic hard tonneau top with the capability of opening or closing at speeds up to 48 km/h. When in place, it resembles the coupe version.

Offered in LT and SS versions, it’s lighter than the previous model and offers a greater powertrain range, the base being a 2-litre, turbo charged 4-cylinder engine matched to a six-speed manual transmission and it starts at $38,650. An all-new 3.6-litre V-6 version is an option as is a monster 6.2L V8, but that big guy could take you into the mid-$50,000 range. Drive the base model before you buy because the base powerplant may be plenty powerful for your needs.

Fiat 500C

2016 Fiat 500c

2016 Fiat 500c

The Italian mini-car starts at $22,995 and features an economical MultiAir 16V I-4 engine, matched to a 5-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy is around 7.6/5.9 L/100km (city/hwy). However, you are not going to buy this car to ease your fuel budget. Ownership is a statement of style and it’s a car in which to be seen around town. At the risk of inviting a charge of sexism it is a girly car.


BMW 2-Series

2016 BMW 2 Series Cabriolet

2016 BMW 2 Series Cabriolet

Finally, one of the more affordable Bimmers, though with a starter price of around $45,000 that might be debatable The BMW 228i xDrive Cabriolet and M235i Cabriolet ($51,900) are hot looking sub-compact cars and a joy to drive.
A turbocharged 241 horsepower 2-litre engine mated to an 8-speed sport automatic transmission propels the 228i. It will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 5.7 seconds, while delivering fuel economy ratings of 7.2/10.6 L/100 km (city/hwy).
The M235i derives its go-get’em performance from a TwinPower Turbo inline-six, also equipped with an 8-speed auto tranny, offering remarkable fuel economy figures – 8.1/11.8 L/100 km (city/hwy). The zero to 100 km/h rating shaves 0.5 seconds off the 228i.
Don’t forget to wear a hat!

keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

2016 Chevrolet Camaro convertible
2016 MX-5
2016 Ford Mustang GT convertible
2016 Fiat 500c
2016 BMW 2 Series Cabriolet

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