Convertible Season

« Blog posts

Posted by Don Adair on July 30, 2018, 6 a.m.

Here’s a little secret we should keep to ourselves; the Inland Northwest is a great place to own a convertible.

Yes, the mention of convertibles evokes images of sunny climes and sandy beaches.

But those places are crowded and the air is often less than pristine. Nothing kills the romance of topdown driving like idling in traffic on the I-10.

Meanwhile, our part of the world is littered with great droptop opportunities.

Sure, the tops go up in the fall and stay up until spring, but on a balmy July evening what could beat a spin on a lonely Palouse backroad? And, when done al fresco, the drive to then lake becomes a big part of the fun.

Forget everything you know about the breezy, rattly convertibles of yore. With their retractable hardtops and multi-layered fabric softtops, today’s convertibles are nearly as quiet as their sedan siblings.

Clever wind-blockers and other strategies take the edge off of chill evening breezes.

Man driving a convertible

And, with available all-wheel-drive, most modern luxury convertibles can be driven year-round.

In the 1980s, safety issues and other concerns nearly killed the convertible. But then a gentle resurgence became a tidal wave and now buyers face an embarrassment of riches. Here’s a sampling of luxury convertibles well-suited for – and easily available to – local drivers.

Audi A5/S5, $49,600 - $62,300
Enthusiasts love the Audi twins for their tenacious handling and butter-smooth powertrains. Lovers of luxury value them for their comely cabins, comfortable rides and tech flourishes. All-wheel-drive is standard and Audi’s layered fabric top silences wind and road noise. Despite a compact footprint, the Audis comfortably convey four adults. Look for Audi’s “virtual cockpit,” a navigation feature that locates the car within Google Earth imagery, beautifully showcasing our region’s rich topography.

BMW 230i/M240i, $40,740 - $52,050
BMW offers droptop versions of most of its luxurious and enthusiast-friendly lineup. At the moment, its most compelling number is the subcompact 230i/M240i. Rear-wheel-drive is standard; AWD is optional, along with a host of performance-focused add-ons. The folding fabric droptop of the 2 Series can be raised or lowered in 20 seconds at speeds of up to 30 mph. The rear seats are a nice thought, but really only practical for children.

Jaguar F Type, $63,300 - $125,000
Nothing speaks glamour louder than Jaguar and no Jag speaks more clearly than the stunning F Type. Less costly – and less firmly suspended – than its German competitors, the two-seat F Type is available with AWD. Engine choices range from mild (296 hp) to wild (550 hp), with an inverse relationship between power and civility. The F Type is not the quietest of our picks and its tiny trunk makes you think twice before packing that extra sweater. But, when a car looks this good on you, who really cares?

Land Rover Range Rover Evoque SE Dynamic Convertible, $52,100
Looking for a true four-seasons convertible? Meet your new ride. With its standard AWD and high-riding stance, the Evoque convertible tames winter’s worst and can also transport you as far from civilization as you desire. No rival for its Jaguar cousin in the looks department, the Evoque is nevertheless packed with Land Rover luxe. Cradled in leather-lined seats and excused with its layered soft top, four passengers enjoy sedan-like levels of quietude and repose.

Mercedes-Benz C300 Cabrio, $51,200 - $81,500
All Mercedes-Benz sedans can be had as convertibles, but the all-new C300 Cabrio is the latest and greatest. Its ride is firm and its back seat cramped, but its well-insulated, power-operated fabric top snugs down beneath its rear tonneau cover in less than 20 seconds – and at speeds of up to 31 mph. Top down, M-B’s clever Airscarf neck heaters take the chill off of a summer’s eve. AWD is available and power hounds are crazy for the Mercedes-AMG versions of the C300.

Porsche Carrera S, $117,400 - $139,900
We could easily have tabbed Porsche’s mid-engine Boxster roadster for this assignment, but the iconic Carrera packs Porsche performance and luxury in a two-passenger package. The rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive convertible can be optioned with AWD and its power fabric top effectively seals out the real world. With its retractable hardtop and standard AWD, the Targa model is set to satisfy even demanding connoisseurs of comfort.

Chevrolet Corvette, $55,495 - $121,000
While America’s favorite convertible doesn’t qualify as a luxury machine, it is one of the world’s great sports car values. So let’s sneak it in for a little domestic representation. The two-seat rear-wheel-drive sports car takes its momentum from a thundering 455-horsepower V-8. Its power soft top doesn’t extinguish wind and road noise but, for a car that gets around the track as quickly as this one does, the ’Vette is surprisingly agreeable.