These days, convertibles come in a variety of formats. In addition to the traditional folding cloth roof, there are sliding cloth roofs now and folding hardtops. One even has a folding hardtop with a sunroof built in. The same can be said for manual transmissions, there’s the traditional shift it yourself variety, and then there’s the new automated manual transmission offering the best of both worlds, the flexibility of manual gear selection, with the convenience of an automatic. Today’s best convertibles with manual transmissions are all about choice and driving pleasure.
The high performance versions of Audi’s A5 Convertible offer seven-speed automated manual transmissions and all-wheel drive.. Other Audi convertibles offering manual transmissions include the A3, TT, TTS, and R8. For the S5, Audi uses a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 good for 333 horsepower and 325 ft-lbs of torque. This engine is teamed with a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission. RS 5 gets a 450-horsepower, 4.2-liter V8 with 316 ft-lbs of torque and the seven-speed automated manual transmission. Beautifully styled and sumptuously equipped, pricing starts at $60,900 for the S5 and $79,750 for RS 5.
BMW M4 Convertible
Of course the BMW M4 Convertible offers a manual transmission option. Other BMW convertible models offing manual transmissions include the M6, Z4 and M235i. The M4 Convertible uses a twin-turbocharged version of BMWs 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with 426 horsepower and 406 ft-lbs of torque. Both of its transmission offerings are technically manuals. There is a traditional six-speed with a clutch pedal, and a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual. So serious is BMW about the performance of the M4 Convertible, the seven-speed is configured with what the company’s spokespeople refer to as the Smoky Burnout function. Pricing starts at $72,500.
With a legacy stretching all the way back to the genesis of the pony car genre, Chevrolet’s Camaro is one of the most desirable American performance cars. Add a folding roof, you’ve got an instant classic. A variety of engine offerings and suspension configurations means you can order your Camaro as mild or as wild as your proclivities dictate. Power ranges from 323 horsepower for the 3.6-liter V6, to 580 horsepower for the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 in Camaro ZL1. Six-speed manual transmissions are offered with every iteration of the Camaro. Other convertible Chevrolet models with manual transmissions include, of course, all the members of the Corvette family. Camaro convertible pricing starts at $32,200.
The pint-sized FIAT 500 offers gallons of personality, and in the process manages to stand out nicely form the crowd. Quintessentially Italian, the quirky little Fiat offers style in abundance, along with driving fun, and a convertible roof. Two engine offerings imbue the little Fiat with horsepower ranging from 101 to 160 (for the high performance Abarth version of the 500). Both engines can be paired with a five-speed manual transmission. Standard features include heated mirrors, Bluetooth, cruise control, and full power accessories. Options include navigation, foglights, automatic climate control, a rear parking sensor array, and leather upholstery. Pricing starts at $20,245.
The icon in a category of icons, Ford’s Mustang is the car for which the entire pony car genre is named. Convertible roofs and manual transmissions have been listed among Mustang’s features from the very beginning. For the 2015 model year, an all-new Mustang has been issued featuring a new independent rear suspension system and three engine offerings. The one attracting the most attention is the turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder making 310 horsepower and 320 ft-lbs of torque. There’s also a 300-horsepower V6 and a 435-horsepower V8. Each engine can be had with a six-speed manual transmission. Mustang convertible pricing starts at $29,100.
The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata will be the most aggressive looking Miata ever upon its debut in early 2015. Mazda’s Kodo styling language gave the car a serious countenance, particularly in the glower of the headlights. The look of this new Miata has left all of the playfulness of its predecessors behind and embraced a more serious attitude. The broad hips enveloping the rear wheels emphasize the rear drive nature of the car, while simultaneously making a power statement. Though still readily identifiable as a Mazda MX-5 Miata, the design has certainly grown up. Pricing has yet to be announced.
Mini Cooper Convertible/Cooper Roadster
With quick acceleration, sharp handling, and miserly fuel economy already in place, the only thing left for Mini to do to improve upon their dynamic little bulldog-looking car was to give it a folding roof. And so two iterations of the Mini Cooper can be had with convertible roofs and manual transmissions. Cooper Convertible is offered with a choice of three engines, ranging in power from 121 horsepower to 208 horsepower. Six-speed manual transmissions are teamed with each. The Cooper Roadster offers the same powertrain choices in a two-seat format. Cooper Convertible pricing starts at $25,700, while Cooper Roadster starts at $26,100.
Looking for all the world like a slightly smaller version of the highly coveted Mercedes-Benz SL models, the Mercedes-Benz SLK has a lot going for it right off the bat. Its folding hardtop frees buyers from choosing between a convertible and Coupe; they get both in the same car. They also get a manual transmission with the SLK250 version of the car. Power comes from a 201-horsepwower turbocharged 1.8-liter inline four with 229 ft-lbs of torque. The manual transmission offering is a six-speed manual, which is standard equipment. Other standard features include automatic climate control, automatic wipers, power adjustable seats, and Bluetooth. Pricing starts at $43,950.
If Porsche’s engineering team were to ever endow Boxster with the same amount of power routinely lavished upon the flagship 911 models, the mid-engined Porsche roadster would run off and leave its storied sibling without so much as a glance. For this reason, racing along a twisting mountain road in a Boxster is an experience more akin to riding a magic carpet than driving a car. It tracks like a slot car and it’s so smooth you’re tempted to get out and look to see if it’s really touching the ground. Boxster is offered with engines ranging from 265 horsepower to 330. Other Porsche models featuring a convertible roof and manual transmissions of course include the highly regarded 911 series. Boxster pricing starts at $51,400.
Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
While no longer the head-turner it once was, Volkswagen’s Beetle still has lot going for it. Style-wise it’s definitely an individual, with nothing else even remotely sharing a similar appearance. Further, the interior furnishings are first-rate, as is fit and finish of the various components. Two engines are offered for the Beetle Convertible with manual transmissions. The gasoline-fueled engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four with 210 horsepower and 207 ft-lbs of torque. The Beetle TDI comes to market with a turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel making 150 horsepower and 236 ft-lbs of torque. Technically, both transmissions are manual offerings. There’s a traditional six-speed manual with a clutch pedal, and a six-speed automated manual with dual-clutch technology. Volkswagen also offers a manual transmission with its Eos folding hardtop convertible. Beetle Convertible pricing starts at $25,345. Eos starts at $35,795.