The convertible boom at the turn of the millennium is over again. This does not have to be a disadvantage for the inclined buyer, since after the partly unsightly steel roof wave has subsided, the manufacturers remember the original open-air virtues: driving fun under a blue sky and a little bit of luxury.
Appropriate to celebrate with Mazda MX-5 is now the new edition model that has just started the modern convertible boom. The fourth generation now refines the well-known roadster recipe for success once again. Rear-wheel drive and a spirited, not too strong naturally aspirated motor together ensure uncomplicated driving pleasure, which is further driven by the reduced weight and the shrunk wheelbase. The MX-23.000 will cost around 5 euros when it is launched in late summer.
The Japanese currently has little to fear from competition. The only direct competitor in Germany is the Mini Roadster, but it is uncertain whether it will be reissued in the small car family after the current model change. There will definitely be a Fiat version of the MX-5, but only in mid-2016. If you are looking for a more or less classic roadster, you have to look in the higher price segments. A special offer is there, at least in view of the performance of the Nissan 370Z Roadster, which is available with 241 kW / 328 hp for 33.150 euros. The models from premium manufacturers are significantly more expensive. Audi is paying at least 37.900 euros (169 kW / 230 hp, front-wheel drive) for the currently cheapest version of its newly launched TT Roadster, but will also push in cheaper and less motorized versions.
The Jaguar F-Type Cabrio is also still relatively fresh, having played into the top league of open dream cars with its intoxicating design and emotional engines. However, the Briton with 74.000 Euro (250 kW / 340 PS) is anything but a bargain. Even the Porsche Boxster, which costs at least 50.000 euros, seems inexpensive. The Stuttgart-based company offers less engine power (from 195 kW / 265 PS), but can certainly keep up with the driving pleasure, especially in the new, puristic Spyder version with 276 kW / 375 PS (from 79.945 Euro). In the eyes of no fewer sports car fans, the Boxster will also take the 911 off the throne when it comes to driving dynamics. The classic is available in two topless versions: as a classic fabric roof convertible (from 257 kW / 350 PS, 103.150 Euro) and as a Targa with roll bar (from 109.338 Euro).
Two other prominent representatives of the segment, the Mercedes SLK and the BMW Z4, are not quite as uncompromisingly designed for driving dynamics. Their steel folding roof already indicates that they appreciate fast cruising on the country road rather than lap hunting on the racetrack. Nevertheless, they are fast and powerful: the performance range of the SLK ranges from 135 kW / 184 PS (from 39.359 Euro) to 310 kW / 421 PS (from 73.542 Euro), the Z4 from 115 kW / 156 PS (from 34.250 Euro) to 250 kW / 340 PS (from 57.900 Euro). The concept of the luxury sports car of the Mercedes SL takes it to the extreme, bigger, stronger and more expensive than its little brother with the “K” after it. The steel roof two-seater already costs at least 97.282 Euro (245 kW / 333 PS) in the entry-level version, but is available as a 463 kW / 630 PS strong twelve-cylinder for 238.833 Euro.
While the range of roadsters and similar open sports cars is still well filled, the portfolio of everyday open-air cars has shrunk. Above all, the numerous steel roof models like Peugeot 308 CC or Nissan Micra C + C disappeared again after the convertible high at the beginning of the decade. With the VW Eos, a last representative of this type is now on the verge of extinction. The Wolfsburg-based company has been offering a replacement for four years now with the cloth-covered Golf Cabrio, which at 24.500 euros is one of the most bourgeois models on the market. The technically closely related Beetle Cabrio is even a bit cheaper (from 22.125 euros). Opel has deliberately positioned the Cascada above the two northern German models, which is technically based on the compact Astra, but is significantly longer and has a decidedly more refined design (from 26.145 euros). Priced more in the segment of compact premium models such as the Audi A3 Cabrio (from 30.800 euros) and BMW 2 Series Convertible (provisionally from 35.350 euros), its dimensions and appearance tend to compete with the Audi A5 Cabrio (from 39.850 euros), BMW 4 Series Convertible (from 43.200 euros) and Mercedes E-Class Cabrio (47.838 euros).
There is a whole range of small car convertibles for the small budget, all of which only have a better roller roof instead of a soft top. Like that Fiat 500 C (from 14.750 Euro), the open version of the retro small car. He can open a fabric blind that moves behind the rear bench and thus releases part of the sky. Part because the B and C pillars and the roof pillars cover the other part of the same. A similar concept is offered by the somewhat larger Citroen DS3 Cabrio (18.440 Euro) and the small car trio Toyota Aygo (from 13.900 Euro), Citroen C1 (12.050 Euro) and Peugeot 108 (from 12.300 Euro) in their respective retractable roof versions. The Opel Adam and the SUV-style Adam Rocks with a fabric roof have also recently become available. The prices start at 14.990 Euro.
The convertible range is completed by the models of the top luxury class. Bentley, for example, has Continental's four-seater GTC in its range, optionally with a V8 or W12 engine and expensive from 187.068 euros. At Rolls-Royce there is the top model Phantom as a Drophead Coupé with twelve cylinders for almost half a million euros. Those who prefer a sportier look can choose models such as the Lamborghini Aventador Roadster (515 kW / 700 PS, from 357.000 Euro or the Ferrari California T (412 kW / 560 PS, from 184.000 Euro).
Author: Holger Holzer / SP-X