I distrust convertible cars. A thin covering of cloth over my head when driving down the freeway in a rainstorm does not inspire confidence. Driving with the top down on a sunny day seems like a recipe for skin cancer. Those concerns, however, mysteriously disappear whenever I get behind the wheel of a convertible, put the top down, and go for a cruise in the country. The open top experience engenders a carefree feeling, an enjoyment of the surroundings impossible with a metal roof overhead. The envious looks of other drivers and pedestrians as I cruise by confirm the wonder that is driving a convertible.
With the end of winter, we have rounded up five convertibles to consider for your driving pleasure.
2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
The new Beetle Convertible is an excellent example of the breed. CNET editors Antuan Goodwin and Brian Cooley both found the whole greater than the sum of its parts, immensely enjoying the driving experience despite a pedestrian engine and average cabin tech.
Porsche's most legendary models have been race cars for public roads, lightweight and high-powered with exceptional handling. The new Boxster is all that, an adrenaline-heightening experience when slinging it through the turns, but top-down driving gives it another dimension.
The perennial favorite from Mazda, a two-seat roadster with rear-wheel-drive, the Miata is a model I hope never goes away. With the top down, the car conveys a sense of speed even when it isn't going very fast. Easy driving and thoroughly enjoyable, it takes a cold heart not to love the Miata.
The monster convertible from Mercedes-Benz, the pricey SL550 packs a lot of power under the hood and a lot of amenities for driver and passenger. For those cooler days, heated seats and Mercedes-Benz' AirScarf feature keep the SL550 practical for open-top driving.
It has been a few years since I drove the CrossCabriolet, and I was surprised to find that Nissan still makes it. Unloved for its looks, the top-down driving experience must keep the model viable. The CrossCabriolet is also that rare convertible able to seat more than two.