Convertibles with the Best Performance

US News

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of driving with the top down. That feeling is even more rewarding when you have a convertible with top-rated performance that matches its good looks and fun-in-the-sun feel.

How much power does it have?

Generally speaking, the more cylinders an engine has, the more power it has. Of course, that will vary considerably based on the model. The Audi A5 Cabriolet and Mazda MX-5 Miata both have 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engines, but the A5 delivers more power because its engine is turbocharged. It produces 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which is significantly more than the MX-5 Miata’s 167 horsepower (with a manual transmission) and 140 pound-feet of torque. In the past, more horsepower usually meant decreased fuel economy. However, with convertibles like the A5 Cabriolet, you don’t have to give up good fuel economy and can still get plenty of horsepower with a smaller turbocharged engine.

The horsepower rating may not be the best way to determine how powerful a convertible feels, since the car’s weight is an important factor. The Nissan G370Z Roadster with an automatic transmission and the Infiniti G37 Convertible have similar power outputs (332 horsepower and 325 horsepower, respectively) but the G37 weighs about 600 pounds more than the 370Z, so the 370Z might feel lighter and more agile.

To many drivers, athletic handling is more important than raw power. The Mini Cooper S Convertible’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine, for example, only makes 181 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, but its small frame and tight driving dynamics make it one of the most fun-to-drive four-cylinder convertibles on the market. The Volkswagen Eos is another convertible that has great handling, but only delivers 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque from its turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

What you get for the money:

Just because a convertible has a low price tag doesn’t mean it’s a poor performer. The Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the best-performing convertibles on the market and it starts at $23,720. Even the base Ford Mustang Convertible, which is also known for its strong performance, costs less than $30,000. In the $30,000 or less price range, you’ll generally get a convertible with a four- or six-cylinder engine. If you are willing to spend about $35,700, you can get the Ford Mustang GT, which comes with a 420-horsepower V8 engine. For $38,685, the Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible offers an even more powerful V8 engine that produces 426 horsepower, but for about $8,000 more than the base convertible, it may not be worth it.

If you’re looking for something more luxurious, the BMW 335i Convertible is one of the best performers in its class and comes with a turbocharged six-cylinder engine for $53,800. Not only does the 335i Convertible deliver 300 horsepower, but it also has aggressive handling that driving enthusiasts love. You can get similar performance from the less-expensive BMW 135i Convertible, which costs about $44,000. While it is smaller than the 335i Convertible, the 135i has the same 300-horsepower six-cylinder engine found in the 335i. Car reviewers think the 135i has fantastic handling and braking capabilities.

If you spend more than $50,000, you’ll find convertibles with standard V8 engines and other high-performance components. The Chevrolet Corvette Convertible has a V8 engine and starts at $54,600. With 430 horsepower, the Corvette Convertible is one of the best values within the upscale segment. Compared with the V8-powered BMW M3 Convertible, which starts at $68,750 and has 414 horsepower, the Corvette offers more horsepower per dollar and costs thousands less than the M3.

Enthusiasts might also like the $66,220 Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet. The E550 comes standard with a 4.6-liter, twin-turbo V8 that generates 402 horsepower. This vehicle is a great choice for those buyers who want a convertible that combines luxurious amenities and top-notch performance.

Convertibles with Four-Cylinder Engines


Engine Liters



MPG city/highway

Mazda MX-5 Miata




22/28 mpg (manual)

Mini Cooper John Cooper Works




26/35 mpg (manual)

BMW Z4 sDrive28i




22/34 mpg (manual)

Audi TTS Roadster




22/31 mpg

Convertibles with Six-Cylinder Engines


Engine Liters



MPG city/highway

Ford Mustang




19/30 mpg

Chevrolet Camaro




19/30 mpg

Nissan 370Z Roadster




18/25 mpg

BMW 135i




18/25 mpg

Porsche Boxster




22/32 mpg

Convertibles with Eight-Cylinder Engines


Engine Liters



MPG city/highway

Ford Mustang GT




15/24 mpg (manual)

Chevrolet Camaro SS




14/19 mpg (manual)

Chevrolet Corvette




16/26 mpg (manual)

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