With the longest days of summer upon us — as well as those warm summer nights — have you ever imagined yourself cruising a beachside boulevard or rolling under the stars behind the wheel of a high-performance sports car or drop-top convertible? Of course you have. Many of today’s convertible models no longer require compromising between performance and wind-in-your hair fun. High-power sports cars offer open-top versions, while some mainstream convertibles are adding powerful options that push performance into sports-car territory. Take a quick look at these high-performance drop-tops for the summer of 2016, and discover which models best match your desire (and budget) for some high-powered excitement.
Nissan 370Z Roadster
Price: Starting at $41,820
Nissan’s 2-seat convertible sports car, the 370Z Roadster boasts a 332-horsepower version of the Japanese automaker’s award-winning 3.7-liter V6 engine, combined with either a paddle-shifted 7-speed automatic transmission with Downshift Rev Matching, or a 6-speed manual transmission with available SynchroRev Match. The 370Z Roadster’s top is designed to create a sleek silhouette that matches the styling of the 370Z coupe, whether the top is up or down. The 350Z coupe joined the Nissan lineup for 2003 — seven years after the last 300ZX — as a modern version of the original 240Z. The Roadster was added for the 2004 model year.
Ford Mustang GT Premium Convertible
Price: Starting at $42,145
Not all Mustang convertibles meet the power bar, but the Mustang GT offers a high level of performance for the price. This pony car produces power from a 5.0-liter V8 engine that generates 435 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque, combined with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters. The latest-generation Mustang GT Premium Convertible debuted for 2015 with a lower stance, wider track and wider rear fenders. The multilayer insulated top lowers twice as fast as the previous model and has a sleeker profile when folded.
Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible
Price: Starting at $44,295
The redesigned 2016 Camaro Convertible lineup includes the high-performance SS, powered by the 6.2-liter LT1 small-block V8 engine introduced on the Corvette. The unit produces an SAE-certified 455 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful Camaro SS ever. The Camaro SS Convertible is available with either a 6-speed manual transmission or an 8-speed automatic. The new Camaro convertible features a multi-layer soft-top that mimics the shape of the Camaro coupe, along with a hard tonneau that covers the roof when stowed. The fully-automatic electro-hydraulic power roof system can be opened or closed at speeds up to 30 mph and can be opened remotely via the key fob.
BMW M240i Convertible
The BMW 2 Series Convertible debuted as a 2015 model, joining the 2 Series Coupe as the replacement for the 1 Series in the U.S. market, with the new 2017 model set to go on sale this summer. The new M Performance model is the M240i Convertible that replaces the M235i, powered by a new turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine that produces 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque — an increase of 15 horsepower and 39 lb-ft of torque over the outgoing model. The latest version of the 8-speed Steptronic Sport Automatic transmission is standard and a 6-speed manual is a no-cost option for rear-wheel-drive models. The M240i Convertible is also available with BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive.
The new 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC went on sale in spring 2016, including the Mercedes-AMG SLC43, the high-performance version of the retractable-hardtop roadster and the entry AMG roadster model. A replacement for the SLK, the SLC43 is powered by a 3.0-liter V6 biturbo engine that produces 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft or torque, combined with a 9G-TRONIC sport automatic transmission. Other key features include an AMG-designed front fascia, an AMG rear fascia, 18-inch AMG multi-spoke light alloy wheels, a diamond-pattern grille, a high-performance brake system, a checkered-flag instrument cluster design and Nappa leather/DYNAMICA microfiber sport seats. Options include a handling package with a mechanical limited-slip differential, and AMG Ride Control sport suspension with adaptive damping.
Price: Starting at $49,700
A long hood, low beltline, long wheelbase and short rear deck combine to create the low-slung profile of BMW’s 2-seat roadster — the Z4 — which offers two high-performance versions: the xDrive35i and xDrive 35is. The Z4 sDrive35i is powered by a TwinPower Turbo 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine producing 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. The Z4 sDrive35is obtains its motivation from a higher-output version with 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Its power-retractable hardtop can be lowered at cruising speeds up to 25 mph, and stows in a compact package in the trunk.
Porsche 718 Boxster
Price: Starting at $56,000
Porsche’s mid-engine, two-seat roadster gets redesigned for the 2017 model year, and the name gets changed to 718 Boxster. The German automaker has a rich history of sports car racing — in 1950s and ‘60s the company campaigned the legendary 718 lightweight mid-engine sports car. In the spirit of that original, Porsche introduces the 718 Boxster. This updated roadster is available as the 718 Boxster or 718 Boxster S. A newly-developed 2.0-liter turbocharged engine produces 300 horsepower in the 718 Boxster, and the S upgrades to a 2.5-liter turbo producing 350 horsepower. The models feature new chassis tuning and stronger brakes, which should provide great fun on the road or track. The 718 Boxster is slated to arrive at Porsche dealerships in late June 2016.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible
Price: Starting at $60,395
The seventh-generation Corvette Stingray Convertible debuted as a 2014 model, bringing back the Stingray name. The new Corvette Stingray is powered by an LT1 small-block 6.2-liter V8 engine producing 455 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. When combined with a new 7-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Match technology, the Corvette Stingray achieves EPA-estimated fuel economy of 17 mpg city / 29 mpg highway. Last year the ZO6 returned, also available as a convertible, powered by a 650-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine. A new 8-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission is available for all models including the Z06, and is designed to improve both performance and efficiency.
Audi S5 Cabriolet
Price: Starting at $61,100
The high-performance version of the Audi A5 drop-top, the Audi S5 Cabriolet is powered by a supercharged 3.0 TFSI V6 engine that produces 333 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission with quattro all-wheel drive. The S5 receives sport-tuned suspension, Nappa leather seats, a 3-spoke multi-function flat-bottom sport steering wheel, steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, aluminum windshield trim and quad exhaust outlets. The S5 exterior trim includes a Platinum Gray Singleframe grille, aluminum-optic side mirrors and an integrated rear spoiler. A red acoustic convertible top is available on the 2016 model.
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
Price: Starting at $65,900
The open-top version of Alfa Romeo’s 2-seat mid-engine sports car, the 4C Spider features a lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum chassis. The body is made entirely of SMC (sheet molded compound) — a low-density, high-strength composite material that is 20 percent lighter than steel but more rigid. Power comes from a turbocharged 1.75-liter engine with dual intercoolers that produces 237 horsepower. The 4C Spider is estimated to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and reach a top track speed of 160 mph. For 2016 an available carbon fiber trim package includes interior vents, instrument cluster surround and shift bezel. A new premium leather interior has Tobacco and Black sport seats, a black interior and Tobacco accent stitching.
Jaguar F-TYPE Convertible
Price: Starting at $65,400
The F-TYPE is Jaguar’s 2-seat sports car offered as both a convertible and a coupe with two high-performance versions of the convertible, the F-TYPE R and the new F-TYPE SVR — the fastest production Jaguar to date. The F-TYPE R Convertible is powered by a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque delivered through the standard all-wheel-drive system. The F-TYPE SVR is the first Jaguar model from Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations, powered by a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 575 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. F-TYPE SVR will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and achieve a top track speed of 200 mph.
BMW M4 Convertible
Price: Starting at $74,200
The high-performance version of the 4 Series, the M4 Convertible joined the M4 Coupe last summer for the U.S. market. The M4 gets a new BMW M TwinPower Turbo 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine that produces 425 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque from 1850–5500 rpm, combined with a standard 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 7-speed M Double Clutch Transmission. The Active M differential is standard, and Adaptive M suspension is optional. The aggressive design features aluminum front fenders and hood for weight savings, and the M4 Convertible shares the folding hardtop with the 4 Series Convertible.
Mercedes-AMG SL63 / SL65
Price: $151,350 / $219,850
One of the most iconic convertibles of all time, the Mercedes-Benz SL roadster has a rich history that dates back to the 300 SL of the 1950s. On sale now, the new redesigned 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL is offered in two high-performance AMG models. The new design features a prominent grille that extends downward, large lower air inlets and two long, raised blisters in the hood. combined with the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission to handle the power transfer to the rear wheels. Engine and transmission software have been revised to deliver faster shifts than the previous model, especially in Sport Plus mode and manual shifting. A twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter AMG V12 powers the SL65, producing 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque, combined with the AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G-TRONIC designed to handle the massive torque. Mercedes-Benz figures indicate the SL63 will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, with the SL65 slightly quicker at 3.9 seconds.
Price: Starting at $101,700
One of the most iconic sports cars of all time, the Porsche 911 debuted in 1963 and continues today as a benchmark among sports cars. The 911 Cabriolet has been offered every year since 1983 and is redesigned for the 2017 model year; it is longer and lower with a wider front track than the previous model, with new features such as a new rear axle design, new electro-mechanical power steering, Porsche Torque Vectoring, and enhanced Porsche Active Suspension Management. The new 911 Cabriolet is offered in eight different trim levels: Carrera, Carrera S, Carrera GTS, Carrera 4, Carrera 4S, Carrera 4 GTS, Turbo and Turbo S. The new Carrera Cabriolet and Carrera 4 Cabriolet are powered by a new 370-horsepower twin-turbo 3.0-liter horizontally-opposed 6-cylinder engine, and the Carrera S and Carrera 4S receive a 420-horsepower version of the twin-turbo 3.0-liter engine. The Carrera GTS and Carrera 4 GTS are powered by a 430-horsepower 3.8-liter engine. The 911 Turbo Cabriolet has a 540-horsepower twin-turbo 3.8-liter, and the Turbo S Cabriolet receives a 580 horsepower version of the twin-turbo 3.8-liter engine.
Price: Starting at $120,000
As the high-performance version of the 6 Series, the M6 sports a 4.4-liter BMW M TwinPower Turbo V8 engine that produces 560 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque, combined with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed M Double Clutch Transmission with Drivelogic. The M6 Convertible includes M-specific double-bar kidney grilles, M gills in the front fenders, side skirts and forged 19-inch M light-alloy wheels with 20-inch M light-alloy wheels optional.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster
Price: Starting at $135,795
A modern Aston Martin sports car with classic Aston Martin style, the V8 Vantage Roadster comes in two different versions: V8 Vantage and V8 Vantage S. The V8 Vantage derives power from a 420-horsepower 4.7-liter V8 engine combined with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a new 7-speed SportShift II automatic transmission. The V8 Vantage S has 10 additional horsepower and track-inspired features, including a carbon fiber front splitter, revised side sills, a revised decklid and new 19-inch wheels.
Price: Starting at $145,740
The open-top version of the GranTurismo, the Maserati GranCabrio gets motivation from a 444-horsepower 4.7-liter V8 engine. The GranCabrio Sport is the top performance trim of the GranCabrio line, featuring 454 horsepower, a 6-speed transmission that includes a faster shifting MC Auto Shift mode, and a more aggressive appearance. The GranCabrio Sport also includes a revised Skyhook active-suspension system and an upgraded brake package. The GranCabrio MC upgrades with a sportier, aggressive look while maintaining Maserati’s signature performance, handling and ride characteristics.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet
The first open-top 4-seat S-Class since 1971, the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet features all the technology of other S-Class models, as well as a complete system for top-down warmth and wind control. The sleek, elegant design makes for one of the most exclusive S-Class models ever, with a coupe-like profile when the soft-top is closed. The top can be lowered in 20 seconds at speeds up to 35 mph. Inside the new S-Class Cab, technological creature comforts include an enhanced automatic wind protection system called AIRCAP, the AIRSCARF neck-level heating system, heated armrests and heated front and rear seats. The intelligent climate control is fully automatic and the driver does not need to choose a different mode when the top is open or closed. The high-performance Mercedes-AMG S 63 4MATIC Cabriolet is powered by the 585-horsepower AMG 5.5-liter V8 biturbo engine with AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive; it will accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds. For the ultimate in open-top motoring, the new Mercedes-AMG S65 Cabriolet adds to the Mercedes V12 lineup, powered by an AMG 6.0-liter V12 biturbo engine that produces 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque, combined with the AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G-TRONIC transmission. The three-layer acoustic fabric soft-top is available in four colors and has a high-quality lining in Nappa leather and DINAMICA microfiber.
Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster
Price: Starting at $197,795
The Aston Martin with the highest level of performance ever produced, the V12 Vantage S Roadster houses a 565-horsepower 6.0-liter V12 engine combined with a 7-speed SportShift III automated manual transmission developed from the Aston Martin GT racing program. The V12 Vantage S features carbon fiber detailing, including the grille and hood vents. This car’s focus is on performance, but inside the V12 Vantage S exudes luxury and craftsmanship with its sumptuous use of color, surface and pattern.
Ferrari California T
Price: Starting at $198,973
Ferrari’s front-engine, V8-powered California T has a power-retractable hardtop. The Ferrari California debuted as a 2009 model and was designed as a modern version of the Ferrari California Spyder of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The new California features design cues from the original car, such as the long hood, short decklid and hood scoop. The California was updated for 2015 with a new grille, headlights and hood without the scoop. The name was changed to California T to reflect the new 3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine that produces 553 horsepower and 557 lb-ft of torque with a standard 7-speed manual transmission. A new Handling Speciale option has stiffer springs, new damper settings and a new exhaust system with two primary pipes and silencers; the exhaust note increases with engine speed.
Bentley Continental GT Convertible
Price: Starting at $236,100
The Bentley Continental GT Convertible was updated last year with new exterior features, including a new front bumper, smaller grille, more pronounced fenders, front fender vents that incorporate a metallic “B” and front fender badges for the V8 S and W12 that match the badge of the GT Speed. At the rear, the trunk lid is more aerodynamic, the rear bumper is wider and a new diffuser gets added to the V8 S and Speed. The Continental GT Convertible continues to be offered in W12, V8, V8 S and Speed versions. The 6.0-liter W12 increases to 582 horsepower and 531 lb-ft of torque, and fuel economy improves by 5 percent with a variable displacement system.
Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 Spyder
Price: Starting at $267,545
Also debuting last September in Frankfurt, the Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4 Spyder is the new version of the Huracan with a lightweight soft-top for open-air driving. Powered by the same 610-horsepower 5.2-liter V10 engine as the coupe, the Huracan Spyder will accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 3.4 seconds and achieve a top speed of 201 mph. Power for the Spyder is delivered through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and a new electronically-controlled all-wheel-drive system. The cloth top opens in 17 seconds, and with the top stowed two fins start behind the seats and run toward the rear of the car to continue the roofline, maintaining the sleek shape and optimizing airflow through the engine compartment.
Ferrari 488 Spider
Price: Starting at $275,000
With its world premiere in Frankfurt last September, Ferrari’s new 488 Spider is the open-top version of the 488 GTB that debuted last spring in Geneva. Since the debut of the 308 GTB in the 1970s, Ferrari has offered a V8-powered, mid-engine, 2-seat sports car and an open-top version since the targa-top 308 GTS. The 488 GTB and 488 Spider continue that tradition, powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.9-liter V8 engine that produces 660 horsepower and 560 lb-ft of torque combined with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. The Spider’s power-retractable hardtop operates in 14 seconds, with two panels stowed behind the seats. The electric glass rear window can be placed in three different positions with the top up or down. The 488 accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 3 seconds and reaches 124 mph in 8.7 seconds with a top speed over 200 mph. Driving dynamics are enhanced by F1-Trac traction control, E-Diff 3 electronic differential, SSC2 side slip angle control and Magnetorheological suspension control.
McLaren 650S Spider
Price: Starting at $280,225
The McLaren 650S is the core model of the McLaren Super Series, designed to provide the enthusiast driver with the right combination of luxury and track-level performance for the street. The 650S is powered by McLaren’s award-winning 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 engine producing 641 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. The 650S Spider is the open-top version that features an electric retractable hardtop that can be raised or lowered in less than 17 seconds while driving. The 650S Spider provides the same level of performance and handling as the 650S Coupe; the carbon fiber MonoCell chassis requires no additional strengthening to provide the necessary rigidity for the open-top version.
Aston Martin Vanquish Volante
Price: Starting at $305,250
The Aston Martin Vanquish is the grand touring flagship of the Aston Martin line, and the Volante is the open-top version. Aston Martin says the Vanquish represents the height of Aston design, engineering, technology and craftsmanship. The Vanquish Volante has a 568-horsepower 6.0-liter V12 engine combined with a Touchtronic III ZF 8-speed automatic transmission. Thousands of color and material options allow buyers to customize the interior to their personal preferences.
Price: Starting at $345,000
Rolls-Royce Dawn is the new super-luxury 4-seat convertible joining the lineup as the seventh-generation Phantom gets phased out. The Rolls-Royce experience is about the ultimate in luxury and exquisite attention to detail, but the potent engine delivers high-performance as well. Powered by Rolls-Royce’s twin-turbo 6.6-liter V12 engine producing 563 horsepower and 575 lb-ft of torque at 1500 rpm, Dawn is Rolls-Royce’s most powerful full 4-seat drophead offered to date. Dynamic accelerator pedal mapping delivers increased throttle response at medium throttle positions. Satellite-aided transmission technology utilizes GPS data to see beyond what the driver can see on the road ahead to select the appropriate gear for the 8-speed ZF transmission, based on location and driving style. Most Dawns will be individually ordered, and Rolls-Royce Bespoke allows owners to customize virtually every aspect of the car from paint, trim and wheels for the exterior to materials, patterns, textures and colors on the inside.
Lamborghini Aventador Roadster
Price: Starting at $443,800
The open-top version of Lamborghini’s most extreme high-performance exotic car, the Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster is powered by a 700-horsepower 6.5-liter V12 engine mounted longitudinally behind the driver. The Aventador delivers power to all four wheels through a 7-speed automated manual gearbox that features three manual shift modes and two automatic shift modes. The Aventador Roadster adds a power rear window, a wind deflector and an engine cover with sectioned hexagonal glass plates. The Lamborghini Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce Roadster debuted last August at The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, during the Monterey Motoring Week in August.