Convertibles offer an open-air driving experience you can’t replicate with even the largest of sunroofs. Convertibles often weigh more and ride less smoothly than their hardtop counterparts, but our favorite convertibles minimize those drawbacks while maximizing everything else that makes droptops so enjoyable. With charms that we find irresistible, we think these are the best convertibles for 2021.
Those who are interested in the best convertibles from 2020 can refer to last year’s list.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Calling the 2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata an automotive icon is no overstatement, as its heritage stretches back more than 30 years and its cheerful driving demeanor has always been its strongest character attribute. The Miata’s four-cylinder engine delivers just enough power to make it feel spunky and its chassis is delightfully balanced—perfect for zipping through curvy sections of road. Both a soft-top convertible model and a power-folding hard-top called the RF are offered, so with either one buyers are treated to fun in the sun. The Miata’s cabin is tight for two and cargo space is limited, but it wasn’t made for road trips; it’s designed for spirited sunny-drenched drives and track days. The fact that it remains one of the cheapest ways to get into a convertible sports car only adds to its appeal.
Porsche 718 Boxster
Few vehicles fulfill their intended mission as well as the 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster does, and that’s why it’s one of our 2021 10Best award winners. Same goes for its coupe brother, the 718 Cayman. This car’s mid-engine design and sport-tuned chassis help it to deliver perfectly balanced driving dynamics, and its lineup of horizontally opposed four- and six-cylinder engines provide plenty of power to accompany this roadster’s sharp handling. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual transmission and a quick-shifting seven-speed automatic for this rear-driver. Drop the top, let the wind rush through your hair, and enjoy all the performance and driving satisfaction that Porsche can deliver for thousands of dollars less than a 911.
The 2021 BMW 2-series delivers everything we love about BMW’s sporty driving dynamics in a handsome, well-priced package. Offered in both hardtop coupe and softtop convertible body styles, the 2-series is a compact sports car with plenty of compelling traits. The 230i model is powered by a 248-hp turbocharged four-cylinder, but upgrading to the M240i swaps in a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that makes a stout 335 horsepower. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but BMW offers its xDrive all-wheel drive system as an option on both models. If you’re looking for more practicality, you might find that one of this car’s four-door rivals—such as the Audi A3, the Mercedes-Benz A-class, or even BMW’s own 2-series Gran Coupe—fits the bill, but the 2-series coupe and convertible will be the choice of those who value driving verve over day-to-day usefulness.
There’s nothing better than putting the top down on a nice day and finding an entertaining road to enjoy, and the 2021 BMW Z4 is a great choice for such an activity. Buyers can choose between a turbocharged four-cylinder or a twin-turbo inline-six—the latter of which blasted the Z4 to 60 mph in just 3.8-seconds at our test track. Rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive isn’t offered but, sadly, neither is a manual transmission; all Z4s come with an eight-speed automatic. Dynamically speaking, the Porsche Boxster is still our preferred ragtop sports car but the Z4 offers plenty of driving enjoyment with a slightly smoother ride for day-to-day use. The cabin is snug but comfortable for two adults and has plenty of standard creature comforts and connectivity features. If you’d prefer a fixed-roof coupe, check out the mechanically similar Toyota Supra instead. Toyota collaborated with BMW on it, and the two cars share their powertrains and suspensions.
The Ford Mustang family has a legendary history and is populated by models with diverse personalities. This year, that history is recalled by the revival of the Mach 1 moniker, first seen on the 1969 ‘Stang. The 2021 Mustang will still come as a coupe or a convertible, and its stable of high-performance offerings will be as full as ever. Whether it’s the turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost or the V-8-powered GT, every version of the original pony car can be armed with track weaponry to challenge its Chevy Camaro or Dodge Challenger counterparts. The Ford’s beautiful bodywork, vast personalization options, and practical interior also make it desirable to folks who care less about lap times and more about sporty everyday transportation. And that’s why the Mustang continues to be an icon: it offers something for everyone.
There’s nothing quite like hearing the thrilling timbre of a throbbing exhaust note or feeling the gratifying feedback from a superbly tuned steering system while flying down a twisty road. Few affordable cars offer both these satisfying sensations, but the Chevy Camaro is one of them. It’s not focused solely on being loud and going fast, however—even though it does both of those tasks very well. Chevy’s two-door pony car comes as a coupe or convertible, and it offers copious features and countless personalization options. While the 650-hp Camaro ZL1 is the most raucous version—and reviewed separately—every model from the base four-cylinder to the V-6 to the V-8 can be enhanced for track duty with the transformational 1LE package. Sure, the interior can feel claustrophobic and has several other quirks, but the 2021 Chevy Camaro is primarily geared towards those who love to drive. Like us.
Chevy Camaro ZL1
With a fire-breathing 650-hp supercharged V-8 and ferocious track capabilities, the 2021 Chevy Camaro ZL1 is the king of monster muscle cars. Sure, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 have horsepower ratings that start with seven, but the bow-tie beast delivers similar thrills for fewer green bills. In fact, if the mid-engine Corvette didn’t exist, the ZL1 could perhaps be called the world’s greatest performance value. Regardless, the Camaro perfects the front-engine, rear-drive formula inherent to muscle cars. While both the coupe and convertible have a remarkable chassis that’s more clairvoyant than Miss Cleo, unleashing the ultimate Camaro requires the transformative 1LE track package, but beware that it makes the suspension very stiff. If you can overlook the Chevy’s flawed interior, the 2021 Camaro ZL1 can be more exciting than a roller coaster, and it’ll regularly reward thrill-seekers and track rats alike.
Some entry-luxury cars are too sporty and others are too soft, but the 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-class falls in the sweet spot. In its standard C300 form, it combines a quiet and comfortable ride with just the right amount of handling acuity—and if you want more power and performance, Mercedes offers the AMG C43 and C63 models, which we review separately. The C300 is available in sedan, coupe, and convertible models. Although the current generation is nearing the end of its life cycle, it still has plenty of modern technology, and its interior and exterior designs have aged well. A redesigned C-class is expected to arrive within the next year or so.
With a 385-hp twin-turbo V-6 under its hood, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG C43 one-ups its Benz-branded C300 counterpart and borrows styling and chassis components from the even racier AMG C63 models. The C43 is offered as a four-door sedan and as a two-door coupe or convertible, the last of which allows open-air enjoyment of the blown V-6’s dulcet exhaust tones. All models wear stylish exterior styling and provide a cozy cabin with all the amenities expected of a Mercedes, although two-door models are less practical and offer less space for rear-seat passengers. While its performance isn’t as impressive as the more powerful C63, the well-balanced C43’s price tag is far more accessible and it retains the fun-to-drive nature and upscale environs of the other C-class models.
The number of high-performance SUVs is growing every year, but if you’re on the market for a compact car that can blow away almost everything else on the road look no further than the 2021 Mercedes-AMG C63. It’s based on the Mercedes-Benz C-class, but has a twin-turbocharged V-8 engine making 469 horsepower in the C63 and 503 hp in the C63 S. The C63 also has a sportier suspension tune (you’ll notice a harsher ride) and some exterior differences compared to the regular C-class that add some aggression to its appearance. It’s available as a sedan, a coupe, or a convertible, and it goes like it’s got a Saturn V booster rocket strapped to its roof. Plus, it has a legitimately luxurious interior and plenty of up-to-the-minute technology, so you’re not trading anything away in return for the performance.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-class epitomizes sophistication with its bleeding technology, classy appearance, and extravagant cabin. Available as a four-door sedan or two-door coupe and cabriolet, the Mercedes can be made to match all manner of upper-class lifestyles. It also offers a set of distinct powertrains that range from an entry-level four-cylinder to a plug-in hybrid to a zesty turbocharged six-cylinder that makes 362 horsepower. The 2021 E-class family chauffeurs passengers in quiet comfort thanks to a serene interior and a pillowy ride. The experience is not unlike a smaller and more affordable version of the ultra-luxurious S-class.
When the elegant Mercedes-Benz E-class doesn’t offer enough excitement, the 2021 AMG-tuned E53 fills the void with increased performance and edgier styling. A unique grille and exclusive exterior details help separate its sedan, cabriolet, and coupe body styles from their more pedestrian counterparts. A 429-hp turbocharged six-cylinder powertrain and standard all-wheel drive deliver all-weather traction and zealous acceleration. Of course, the E53 family also maintains Mercedes’ luxury pedigree with an eye-catching cabin that boasts cutting-edge technology and upscale materials. In a class brimming with talented competitors, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG E53 ranks among the most remarkable.
In the world of Audi, removing two doors from the A4 sedan increases the number to 5—as in, the A5 coupe and cabriolet. The two-door’s styling is more aggressive and more rakish than the four-door A4’s, and the cabriolet’s fabric top opens the cabin for a taste of that classic convertible freedom. A punchy turbocharged four-cylinder provides plenty of pep and the chassis is dialed in for solid cornering grip. It might not be as racy as the V-6–powered S5 model or the BMW 440i, but there’s still a lot of like about the A5, and it’ll serve buyers well as a stylish and capable ride.
From its rear-mounted flat-six engine to its otherworldly handling, the 2021 Porsche 911 has preserved the essential elements that made it an icon. Its familiar circular headlights, Coke bottle shape, and sloping rump make it virtually impossible to mistake a 911 for any other sports car. Climb into its perfectly positioned driver’s seat, fire up its powerful and unique-sounding engine, and engage either of its terrific transmissions; Porsche’s legendary 2+2-seater will then proceed to overload you with feedback from its telepathic steering and its peerless performance attributes. It’s offered as a coupe or convertible and with rear- or all-wheel drive. The company’s extensive list of options allows it to be personalized for all tastes. The only knock against the 2021 Porsche 911 is that it’s too expensive for most enthusiasts to own.
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