Enjoying unlimited headroom with limited outlay

Well, it’s officially summertime, and that means it’s the right season to get out and enjoy the warm weather. And, if you have the means, that should also include breaking free from the confines of a fixed hardtop roof and enjoying unlimited blue-sky headroom. Unfortunately, getting behind the wheel of a convertible isn’t always the cheapest proposition around, but fear not, because we’ve assembled five of our top picks for going topless without breaking the bank.

Of course, there are plenty of other options out there at this price range, but we decided to cut out the flab and only keep those droptops that you’ll actually want to drive. That means each offers something interesting under the hood, all while maintaining that fun in the sun factor. Of course, no roof means you’ll get a little extra slop in the corners, given the lack of chassis rigidity, but that’s okay – you’ll be enjoying your time in the elements all the same. Let us know which you’d have in the comments!

Continue reading to learn more about TopSpeed’s Top 5 Convertibles That Won’t Break The Bank.

Audi A3 Cabriolet

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If eye-catching European styling and high-end luxury are on your list of “must-haves,” then Audi has a solid solution with the A3 Cabriolet. Originally introduced in 2003, the latest model gets Audi’s updated design language for the exterior, which incorporates checkmark-shaped headlight housings and C-shaped daytime running lights. In front, it’s hard to miss the large Singleframe grille and horizontal intake bars, while crisp lines complete the look with handsome proportions and a nice profile look. Xenon lights come as standard, but options include Matrix LED lighting.

Inside is a premium interior space with a 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster behind a flat-bottom steering wheel, plus a large touchscreen mounted to the top of the dash. Infotainment options include Apple CarPlay and Androind Auto support, while standard safety systems throw in Audi pre sense. The A3 was also recently updated with better seats offering a comfortable, yet supportive design.

Exterior Dimensions

Audi A3 Cabriolet exterior dimensions:
Wheelbase (inches): 102.2
Length (inches): 174.1
Height (inches): 55.5
Width (inches): 77.2
Front track (inches): 61.2
Rear track (inches): 60.1

Interior Dimensions

Audi A3 Cabriolet interior dimensions:
Headroom (front / rear): 37.4 inches / 36.3 inches
Leg room (front / rear): 41.2 inches / 31.9 inches
Shoulder room (front / rear): 54.8 inches / 45.7 inches
Passenger volume: N/A
Cargo room: 9.9 cubic feet
Seating capacity: 4
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Inside is a premium interior space with a 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster behind a flat-bottom steering wheel

Providing the motivation is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which pumps out 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Sending the power to the ground is a six-speed dual-clutch automatic with quattro AWD. Alternatively, you can get a turbo 2.0-liter with 186 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, which mates to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with FWD. Go for AWD, and you’ll hit 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, while the FWD model hits the same benchmark in 6.9 seconds. Keeping it glued to the road is a MacPherson strut set-up in front and a four-link suspension in the rear.

Audi A3 Cabriolet engine, drivetrain, and chassis:
Engine type: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Drivetrain: FWD, AWD
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, six-speed automatic
Horsepower: 186 hp at 4,400 rpm, 220 hp at 4,500 rpm
Torque: 221 pound-feet at 1,600 rpm, 258 pound-feet at 1,600 rpm
0-to-60 mph: 6.9 seconds, 5.9 seconds
Top speed: 130 mph
Fuel economy: 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway, 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway
Curb weight: 3,428 pounds, 3,627 pounds

Pricing starts at $37,600

Audi A3 Cabriolet pricing and options:
A3 Cabriolet Premium: $37,600
A3 Cabriolet Premium Plus: $40,850
A3 Cabriolet Prestige: $46,550
Options: Convenience package (Audi advanced key, USB Audi music interface with Audi smartphone interface), Sport package (sport front seats, Audi drive select, three-spoke flat-bottom multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles), Heated front seats, Sport suspension

Read the full review here.

Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

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If you prefer your droptop with a healthy dollop of U., S., and A., then look no further than the Chevrolet Camaro. The only way this thing could be more American is if you put an apple pie in the passenger seat. Now in its sixth generation, initially introduced for the 2016 model year, the latest ‘Maro rides on the same Alpha architecture used for the Cadillac ATS and Cadillac CTS. Styling wise, the Convertible model is essentially unchanged compared to the hardtop iteration, with a shark-like front end, wide fender flares, and lots of muscle-bound attitude everywhere. It’s almost predatory in its appearance. Look close and you’ll find a few small aesthetic differences that help the more potent models stand out, such as larger side intakes in the front bumper for models with larger engines. The trunk was also reshaped to accommodate the soft top.

Inside, the interior gets a little retro styling, with large rounded air vents and a traditional analog gauge cluster. The steering wheel is a flat-bottom, three-spoke, multifunction affair with sizable handgrips at the 10 and 2. The dash gets a decently sized touchscreen, with the option for an 8.0-inch unit as well. MyLink provides the infotainment platform. There’s also LED ambient lighting for a little extra premium feel.

Exterior Dimensions

Chevrolet Camaro Convertible exterior dimensions:
Wheelbase (inches): 110.7
Length (inches): 188.3
Height (inches): 52.9
Width (inches): 74.7
Front track (inches): 62.5
Rear track (inches): 63.7

Interior Dimensions

Chevrolet Camaro Convertible interior dimensions:
Headroom (front / rear): 38.4 inches / N/A
Leg room (front / rear): 43.9 inches / N/A
Shoulder room (front / rear): N/A / N/A
Passenger volume: N/A
Cargo room: 7.3 cubic feet
Seating capacity: 4
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The only way this thing could be more American is if you put an apple pie in the passenger seat.

The engine selection includes three different options, although the more powerful iterations are equally more expensive as well, so be wary. Kicking it off is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, followed by a mid-range option with a 3.6-liter V-6 making 335 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque. At the top of the heap is a 6.2-liter V-8 producing 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. All three options route power exclusively to the rear wheels, while gearbox options include a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic.

Chevrolet Camaro Convertible engine, drivetrain, and chassis:
Engine type: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 3.6-liter six-cylinder, 6.2-liter V-8
Drivetrain: RWD
Transmission: six-speed manual, eight-speed automatic
Horsepower: 275 hp at 5,600 rpm, 335 hp at 6,800 rpm, 455 hp at 6,000 rpm
Torque: 295 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm, 284 pound-feet at 5,300 rpm, 455 pound-feet at 4,400 rpm
0-to-60 mph: 6 seconds, 5.7 seconds, 4.1 seconds
Top speed: 155 mph
Fuel economy: 20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway
Curb weight: 3,647 pounds, 3,956 pounds

Pricing starts at $32,900.

Chevrolet Camaro Convertible pricing and options:
Camaro 1LS: $32,900
Camaro 1LT: $33,595
Camaro 2LT: $36,600
Camaro 1SS: $43,900
Camaro 2SS: $48,900
Options: RS Package (20-inch aluminum wheels, 245/40R20 tires, HID headlights, LED taillights, RS grille), Technology Package (Chevrolet MyLink Radio, Bose premium audio), Ground Effects Package (body kit), Performance Enthusiast Package with Red Accents/Grey Accents (suspension lowering kit, performance wheel center caps, embroidered center console lid, premium carpeted floor mats with performance logo)

Read the full review here.

Ford Mustang Convertible

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So let’s say you want the same muscle car attitude as the Camaro, but maybe with a little less mullet. If that sounds like the right fit, then maybe the modern Mustang is more your style. Now in its sixth generation following an update for the 2015 model year, the latest Pony Car gets a new independent rear suspension, which is a pretty big deal in the world of muscle cars. The set-up imbues the Mustang with modern handling characteristics and helps shake the old “point and squirt” connotations. Helping it stop are standard 12.5-inch brakes with four-wheel discs, while the electric power steering offers tunable feedback response. In the corners are 17-inch wheels hewn from aluminum and wrapped in all-season rubber, measuring in at 235/55R17. You can also upgrade to 18-inch aluminum wheels, which come as standard on higher trim levels.

Under the hood, the range starts with the V6 Convertible model, which gets a limited-slip rear axle, six-speed manual transmission, and is powered by a 3.7-liter Ti-VCT V-6 engine. Options include a 3.55 limited-slip rear end and a six-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Alternatively, buyers can get theirs with a 2.3-liter turbo EcoBoost four-cylinder, or a 5.0-liter V-8. Horsepower ranges between 300 and 435 ponies.

Exterior Dimensions

Ford Mustang Convertible exterior dimensions:
Wheelbase (inches): 107.1
Length (inches): 188.3
Height (inches): 54.9
Width (inches): 81.9
Front track (inches): 62.4
Rear track (inches): 65.1

Interior Dimensions

Ford Mustang Convertible interior dimensions:
Headroom (front / rear): 37.6 inches / 35.7 inches
Leg room (front / rear): 44.5 inches / 29.2 inches
Shoulder room (front / rear): 56.3 inches / 52.2 inches
Passenger volume: 79.3
Cargo room: 11.4 cubic feet
Seating capacity: 4
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The range starts with the V6 Convertible model, which is powered by a 3.7-liter Ti-VCT V-6 engine.

Outside, the Mustang’s styling was also updated recently, gaining a new look front and back, plus more effective aero. HIDs are used for the headlights and there are LEDs for the taillights. LED fog lights and a rear spoiler are optional.

The cabin equips a 2-way manually adjustable seat for the passenger and a 4-way manually adjustable seat for the driver, with cloth upholstery as standard. There’s also a 6-speaker audio system with the Sync infotainment platform and two USB charger ports. Finally, the trim gets an aluminum finish, and leather wraps the steering wheel.

Chevrolet Camaro Convertible engine, drivetrain, and chassis:
Engine type: 3.7-liter V-6, turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder, 5.0-liter V-8
Drivetrain: RWD
Transmission: six-speed manual, six-speed automatic
Horsepower: 300 hp at 6,500 rpm, 310 hp at 5,500 rpm, 435 hp at 6,500 rpm
Torque: 280 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm, 320 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm, 400 pound-feet at 4,250 rpm
0-to-60 mph: 5.5 seconds, 4.7 seconds
Top speed: 155 mph
Fuel economy: 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, 15 mpg city and 25 mpg highway
Curb weight: 3,572 pounds, 3,706 pounds, 3,891 pounds

Pricing starts at $30,685.

Ford Mustang Convertible pricing and options:
Mustang V6 Convertible: $30,685
Mustang EcoBoost Premium Convertible: $35,695
Mustang GT Premium Convertible: $42,695
Options: 201A Equipment Group (Shaker Pro Audio System with 12 speakers, HD Radio, driver’s seat, mirrors and ambient lighting with memory feature, Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert), EcoBoost Performance Package (requires EcoBoost Premium model, 3.55 limited-slip rear axle, 19-inch wheels, 255/40R19 summer tires, “Engine Turn” aluminum instrument panel, oil pressure and boost pressure gauges, heavy-duty front springs, upgraded brake rotors and four-pot calipers, upgraded radiator, spoiler delete, unique chassis tuning, unique electronic aide tuning, larger rear sway bar), Pony Package (19-inch wheels, premium carpet mats, side stripes, unique upper and lower grilles)

Read the full review here.

Mazda MX-5

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Touted as one of the most popular and successful roadsters ever created, the MX-5 Miata is known as “the answer” when it comes to open-air fun. Originally released back in 1989, the iconic Mazda is now in its fourth generation, and rest assured, all the magic of the old model is still present in the new iteration. It’s still very lightweight and very tossable, providing a strong counterpoint to the big, burly, and exceedingly powerful ‘Merican muscle car entries above.

The focus here is on providing maximum fun in the corners, and Mazda never forgot that, with the latest model cutting a further 115 pounds compared to the third-gen version. Complementing the lowered mass is new Kodo design language for the exterior body panels, plus LED headlights. Of course, it’s also quite compact, and the translates into an equally tight cabin space, which manages to provide the driver with as much feedback as possible thanks to a simplified, unembellished layout. That said, there’s still a nice baseline of comfort on offer, with a touchscreen, cup holders, and all the usual amenities you’d expect.

Exterior Dimensions

Mazda MX-5 exterior dimensions:
Wheelbase (inches): 90.9
Length (inches): 154.1
Height (inches): 48.6
Width (inches): 68.3
Front track (inches): 58.9
Rear track (inches): 59.17

Interior Dimensions

Mazda MX-5 interior dimensions:
Headroom (front / rear): 37.4 inches / N/A
Leg room (front / rear): 43.1 inches / N/A
Shoulder room (front / rear): 52.2 inches / N/A
Passenger volume: N/A
Cargo room: 4.59 cubic feet
Seating capacity: 2
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The focus here is on providing maximum fun in the corners, and Mazda never forgot that.

Providing the go is 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque from a SkyActiv 2.0-liter four-cylinder, all of which hits the rear wheels through a six-speed transmission, available in both manual and automatic flavors. The four-cylinder is mounted far back in the engine bay, offering superb balance. The chassis is constructed using copious amounts aluminum, offering surprising rigidity, even for a droptop. All told, expect superlative handling dynamics at a level capable of building up a worldwide grassroots motorsport following.

Mazda MX-5 engine, drivetrain, and chassis:
Engine type: 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Drivetrain: RWD
Transmission: six-speed manual, six-speed automatic
Horsepower: 155 hp at 6,000
Torque: 148 pound-feet at 4,600
0-to-60 mph: 5.9 seconds
Top speed: 129 mph
Fuel economy: 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway
Curb weight: 2,332 pounds

Pricing starts at $24,915.

Mazda MX-5 pricing and options:
MX-5 Sport: $24,915
MX-5 Club: $28,800
MX-5 Grand Touring: $30,065
Options: Interior Package (oil cap, alloy pedals, door sill trim plates), Weather Package (cargo tray, all-weather floor mats), Appearance Package (side sill extensions, black rear bumper skirt), doorsill trim plates, interior lighting kit

Read the full review here.

Mini Cooper Convertible

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Without a doubt, the Mini Cooper Convertible is the “cutest” option on this list, with a bubbly appearance and a fun-loving attitude. The Mini also offers tons of customizability if you want it, with ample opportunities to make yours unique, including a long list of possibilities for aesthetic treatments like hood stripes, side-view mirror covers, roof banners, interior gear, and a whole lot more.

Simply put, the British icon is easily recognizable thanks to its rounded exterior features, punctuated by lots of chrome trim bits. Up top, you’ll find something called a 3-in-1 roof, which gets settings like all up, all down, or half-open like a plus-sized moonroof. The convertible also comes with an app that will warn you when it’s about to rain.

Exterior Dimensions

Mini Cooper Convertible exterior dimensions:
Wheelbase (inches): 98.2
Length (inches): 152
Height (inches): 55.7
Width (inches): 68
Front track (inches): 58.5
Rear track (inches): 59.1

Interior Dimensions

Mini Cooper Convertible interior dimensions:
Headroom (front / rear): 39.8 inches / 39 inches
Leg room (front / rear): 41.1 inches / 30.9 inches
Shoulder room (front / rear): 51 inches / 39.7 inches
Passenger volume: 76 cubic feet
Cargo room: 7.6 cubic feet
Seating capacity: 4
2016 Mini John Cooper Works Convertible
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The Mini also offers tons of customizability if you want it, with ample opportunities to make yours unique.

Unsurprisingly, there are a few different options to choose from when it comes to the powerplant as well. Starting it off is the base model Cooper, which offers 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque thanks to a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder. Next is the Cooper S, which gets 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Finally, at the top is the John Cooper Works, offering as much as 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Transmission options include a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic, with power routed exclusively to the front axle. Despite this traditionally shrug-worthy drivetrain set-up, don’t expect the Mini to be a snooze behind the wheel – this is one marque that’s definitely known for offering sharp handling characteristics and lots of giggles in the curves.

Mini Cooper Convertible engine, drivetrain, and chassis:
Engine type: turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Drivetrain: FWD
Transmission: six-speed manual, six-speed automatic
Horsepower: 134 hp at 4,400 rpm, 189 hp at 4,700 rpm, 228 hp at 5,200 rpm
Torque: 162 pound-feet at 1,250 rpm, 207 pound-feet at 1,250 rpm, 236 pound-feet at 1,250
0-to-60 mph: 8.2 seconds, 6.7 seconds, 6.3 seconds
Top speed: 124 mph
Fuel economy: 27 mpg city and 37 mpg highway
Curb weight: 2,905 pounds, 3,025 pounds, 3,065 pounds

Pricing starts at $26,700.

Mini Cooper Convertible pricing and options:
Cooper Convertible: $26,760
Cooper S Convertible: $30,400
John Cooper Works Convertible: $36,600
Options: Technology Package (parking assistant, navigation system, real-time traffic info, Mini Connected XL), Sport Package (wheel upgrade, sport seats, LED headlights, dynamic damper control), Premium Package (convertible wind deflector, Harman Kardon stereo, Comfort Access System, heated front seats, SiriusXM satellite radio), JCW Exterior Package (JCW Aero kit, 17-inch JCW Track Spoke Black Wheels), JCW Interior Package (JCW leather steering wheel, sport seats, JCW stainless steel pedal trim, JCW door sills, anthracite headliner)

Read the full review here.

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