9.2009 Porsche Boxster/Boxster S
A number of 4-seat convertibles with retractable hardtops have appeared in recent years, and the Volkswagen Eos is the best of the bunch. It is solid and shake-free, and rides and handles quite well. The German carmaker has also been wise in making its brilliant 2.0-liter turbocharged 200-horsepower engine the only choice, dropping the costlier, heavier and less pleasant V6. With a torque peak of 207 lb-ft, the 2.0 propels the Eos to 60 mph from a standing start in almost identical times of 7.3 and 7.2 seconds respectively, with the 6-speed manual or the DSG (dual automated clutch) gearbox, depending on the model. The Eos’ 5-panel roof retracts in about 30 seconds and even has a glass sunroof, so you always feel like you’re outside, whether the top is down or not.
The Porsche Boxster is one of the best-handling cars on the road today. It is also remarkably practical and comfortable. The trick is the midmounted, horizontally opposed “boxer” engine, which lies between the seats and rear wheels. The centralized mass helps make the Boxster exceptionally agile and balanced in corners while freeing enough space rearward for a second trunk. New this year in the Boxster S is a direct-injection version of the 3.4-liter engine that develops 310 horsepower. The base Boxster’s 2.9-liter unit delivers 255 horses. Both engines are cleaner and more frugal, and come mated to standard 6-speed manual gearbox. A new PDK dual automated clutch 7-speed gearbox is also available. The roadster’s soft-top folds under a hard cover in just 12 seconds.
There’s another new Z in town and it’s shorter, trimmer, lighter, quicker, sharper and more solid than the 350Z it supersedes. While the 370Z roadster’s hood, door panels and trunk are made of aluminum to reduce weight, the structure beneath is more rigid, so handling characteristics between it and the coupe are very similar. The redesigned interior has richer, higher-quality materials, and the standard soft-top is lined for better noise insulation. It has a larger glass rear window and folds under a hard shell in about 20 seconds. Under its hood, you’ll find a gutsy 332-horsepower version of Nissan’s latest variable-valve-timing 3.7-liter V6 that can be coupled to a 7-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual gearbox. Both will match revs on downshifts, but the manual’s SynchroRev Match mode is an industry first.
7.2009 MINI Cooper/Cooper S
New for 2009, the second generation of the modern MINI Cooper Convertible looks nearly identical to its popular predecessor. Nonetheless, it has been improved in subtle and numerous ways. The most significant is the use of much lower rear head restraints that improve rear visibility, correcting the previous model’s nastiest trait. MINI/BMW engineers also devised a roll bar designed to shoot up behind the rear seats in the “unlikely event” of a rollover. A larger trunk is another gain. Like their hatchback and Clubman siblings, the new MINI convertibles promise superb steering, handling and braking abilities. The standard Cooper is powered by a118-horsepower 1.6-liter four-banger, while the Cooper S gets turbocharged, upping power to 172 horses.6.2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK
Introduced in 1998 to compete with the BMW Z3 and Porsche Boxster, the Mercedes-Benz SLK can be credited with popularizing the use of a retractable hardtop, instead of the traditional fabric soft-top, in the convertible and roadster segment. The current generation of this premium small roadster was introduced in 2005 and comes in three flavors. The SLK300 ($45,950) and SLK350 ($50,950) are powered by 3.0- and 3.5-liter V6 engines with power outputs of 228 and 300 horses, respectively. The SLK55 AMG ($65,700) is the hot rod of the family, with a 5.4-liter V8 that produces 355 horsepower when coupled to a 7-speed automatic. The trio offers handling and performance in ascending levels of intensity. Common traits include neat packaging, original design and great comfort.
5.2009 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG
With legendary classics dating back to the 1950s, the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class earned its spot in the automotive hall of fame a long time ago. Yet this classic hardtop convertible continues to evolve and even get sportier with age. Today there are four models in the SL lineup, ranging from the SL550, priced at $98,500 with a 5.5-liter 382-horsepower V8, to the SL65 AMG, with its twin-turbo 6.0-liter 604-horse V12 at $194,700. The best of the bunch, though, is the SL63 AMG at $135,000, powered by a fabulous naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 that is hand-built at AMG, Mercedes-Benz’s high-performance division, and belts out 518 thunderous horses. There is nothing like this engine’s growl, modulated by a clever 7-speed gearbox with multidisc clutch, steering-mounted paddles and launch.
In the 20 years since its introduction, this miraculous little machine has become the world’s best-selling roadster ever. Mazda has overhauled the MX-5 for 2009, outfitting it with a “beaming smile” grille; new headlights, taillights and side sills; and a sport-tuned suspension to sharpen handling. The base Miata comes with a soft-top that can be folded or deployed with a flip of the wrist. But the optional power-retractable hardtop is too good to resist. It doesn’t take away any precious trunk space and can be raised or lowered in 12 seconds. You can get the elemental Miata SV for $21,750. The fully dressed Grand Touring version is $28,190, and comes with a retractable hardtop, leather and a whole slew of accessories.
3.2010 Ford Mustang GT
The legendary Mustang turned 45 this year. The latest iteration, the 2010 model, is considered to be one of the best — if not the best — Mustang ever built, and the convertible is a hoot to drive. Compared with its predecessor, the newest open-air ’Stang offers a nicer interior, bigger wheels and tires, a retuned suspension and more power. You can get a soft-top Mustang fitted with the 210-horse 4.0-liter V6 for as little as $25,995, but the one to own is the GT. For three grand more ($28,995), you get a massaged version of its 4.6-liter V8 that produces a healthy 315 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. Go with the standard 5-speed manual gearbox so you can dial up the V8’s voluptuous growl at will.
2.2009 BMW Z4
Bavarian Motor Works has revamped its smallest sports car, turning it into a true gem. A new power-retractable aluminum hardtop lets the 2009 BMW Z4 morph from coupe to convertible in 20 seconds at the touch of a button. An additional 5.8 inches in length provides room for the folded top, decent cargo volume and more space inside. The interior is attractive, and features a much-improved version of BMW’s infamous iDrive control interface and a pleasingly clear 8.8-inch video screen for the optional navigation system. The $46,575 sDrive30i gets a peppy, naturally aspirated 255 horsepower 3.0-liter inline six. If that’s not enough power for you, the $52,575 sDrive35i comes with a twin-turbocharged version of the 3.0-liter that produces 300 horses and 300 lb-ft of torque.
The choice convertible from Audi is the new 2009 Audi TTS Roadster. The TTS comes with a stronger version of Audi’s exceptional turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter engine, which produces 265 horsepower at 6000 rpm and a smile-inducing 258 lb-ft of torque at 2500 rpm. With Audi’s pioneering 6-speed S-Tronic dual automated clutch sequential gearbox, the TTS Roadster sprints to 60 mph in a scant 5.1 seconds with the irresistible bark of a special exhaust system. The soft-top-equipped $47,500 TTS quattro is also the only all-wheel-drive machine in this bunch, and comes with the same magnetically variable damping shocks that work wonders for the R8.
Source: MSN Autos