Luxury convertibles provide all the freedom a normal drop top can muster, but with a level of comfort and performance that'd only possible if you’re willing to spend the dough. There's nothing as satisfying as leaving your stuffy office and commuting home with the wind in your hair, or driving out to your vacation home by the sea while bathing in the salt air.
Luxury convertibles are also generally great sports cars, with balanced handling and powerful engines, and they can be quite exhilarating to drive with the top up or down.
Here are our four favorite luxury convertibles on sale in 2016.
1.) 2016 Porsche Boxster -- $52,100
Even though the Boxster is the cheapest sports car Porsche sells, it's still the best luxury convertible on the market. The Boxster's unique advantage is that it was designed from the get-go as a convertible, so it is lightweight. However, 2016 is the last year the Porsche Boxster will come with the iconic naturally aspirated flat-six engine, which in the base configuration delivers a perfectly acceptable amount of power. In the higher S, GTS and Spyder trims, larger and more powerful engines are available.
A manual transmission is standard, as it should be, but Porsche's amazingly fast-shifting PDK dual-clutch automatic is an option. Inside the Boxster, the interior is luxurious and it can be as well-equipped as you feel like paying.
The only real downside of the Boxster is that everyone will assume you wanted a 911 but were forced to settle for a "lesser" option. Unfortunately, those people don't know what they're thinking, because the Boxster is a genuinely good sports car and a phenomenal convertible.
2.) 2016 Porsche 911 -- $101,700
The Porsche 911 may not have been designed from the onset as a convertible like its younger brother, but it makes up for its additional weight by adding more power. The Porsche 911 is quick in its convertible form at all trim levels, and it offers something the Boxster will never have: a rear seat.
Power options vary wildly in the Porsche 911 convertible; the base model Carrera receives a 3.4-liter flat six-cylinder with 350 horsepower, the Carrera S has a slightly larger 3.8-liter flat six with 400 horsepower, and the Turbo has a twin-turbo 3.8-liter flat six that puts out 520 horsepower to all four wheels, propelling the 911 Turbo convertible to 60 in less than three seconds.
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If that's not fast enough for you, and you have some serious cash to spend, the top-of-the-line Turbo S has the boost cranked up, delivering 560 horsepower for eye-watering acceleration. The 911's interior across all trim levels is well-crafted and styled, befitting of its true luxury car status, but they can be optioned out endlessly depending on how much you want to spend.
Although not as much of an issue today with stability and traction control systems, the Porsche 911 has its engine in the back, which can lead to nasty liftoff oversteer in rare situations that can surprise novices. Beyond that, the 911 convertible is truly a supercar you can drive every day.
3.) 2016 Chevrolet Corvette -- $60,395
For a long time, the Chevrolet Corvette has had a reputation of being a phenomenally performing car -- with an interior that simply does not match in quality. That's no longer the case, as the current Corvette makes no compromises. It's still wildly quick, with a zero-to-60 time of 3.7 seconds, brought to you by a 455-horsepower 6.2-liter V8.
The interior has been much improved, and it feels genuinely upmarket. While Porsche may offer an overall better experience, the Corvette's interior styling is focused on the driver. The seats are comfortable and supportive, and the materials are high-quality. Your options include goodies, such as heated and cooled seats, navigation and a heads-up display. The Corvette has become the best-value sports car available, as it's able to keep up or beat supercars that cost three times as much.
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The downside of the Corvette, especially in the convertible form, is that it's the poster child for midlife crisis purchases. Even though it's an incredibly good car, people will think you're wearing Hawaiian shirts and a comb-over regardless of whether it's true. But who cares what they think? Buy the good car, and enjoy it.
4.) 2016 Jaguar F-type -- $65,400
The Jaguar F-type is a raucous, unapologetic, brash and delightful car that is entirely focused on putting a smile on your face. Upfront, you can have a supercharged V6 with either 340 horsepower in the base model or 380 horsepower in the F-type S. In the top-of-the-line F-type R, a supercharged V8 gives you 550 horsepower and all-wheel drive.
Both the base model and S trim are available with a bona fide manual transmission, and the R offers only an automatic. The F-type makes its arrival known, with a wonderful engine note at all levels, and it even has a button that makes the exhaust very loud. This gives the F-type character, which many cars these days are beginning to lose.
At the end of the day, though, the Jaguar F-type is a British car, and British cars have a long history of baffling unreliability. Reportedly, that has started to change, and Jaguar is now offering warranties of five years or 60,000 miles.