Few automotive experiences are more invigorating than piloting a fast Convertible on an open road on a temperate day. OK, whom are we kidding? It's great fun—regardless of the day! Fast, open cars exist primarily to appeal to those who love the feeling of being one with nature. After all, there’s nothing like feeling the wind rushing around you, experiencing the many and varied fragrances of everything you pass (OK, we agree, that one really could go either way), and the general charge you get from the overall experience. Whether you prefer two seats or four, there’s a pretty broad slate of cars qualifying among the fastest convertibles under $50,000. Whether you prefer to drive pure sports cars, grand touring models, or even open coupes, you’re bound to find the ride with the perfect blend of attributes to suit your needs and fulfill your desires here.
Audi A5 Cabriolet
Sleek, well finished, sophisticated, and remarkably sumptuous, the 2016 Audi A5 Cabriolet delivers entertaining handling, excellent ride quality, a broad range of luxury features, and more than adequate performance. For the 2016 model year, Audi has endowed every version of its four-seat droptop with the handsome S-Line package. A red top can also be ordered to give the car even more pizzazz, Audi Connect Online is available across the board, and the upper trim levels get the Bang & Olufsen audio system as standard equipment. Power for the all-wheel drive convertible comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four with 220 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission completes the powertrain. Easily one of the more stylish entries on this list of the fastest convertibles under $50,000, the 2016 Audi A5 Cabriolet’s pricing starts at $47,900.
Audi TT Roadster
A redesigned TT debuts for the 2016 model year with more power, better handling, a sleeker body, and an outstanding new interior treatment; placing yet another Audi on this list of the fastest convertibles under $50,000. With the 2016 model, Audi has made a definite effort to move the TT toward more of a focused sports car, rather than the tourer it has been in the past. The new body is lighter in weight, thanks to the aluminum hood, fenders, doors, and trunk lid. The wheelbase has been enlarged slightly, and the all-wheel drive system has been reworked with lighter components. Power for the base model comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four with 220 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs of torque. The TT Roadster’s zero to 60 is quoted at 5.6 seconds. The top can be lowered or raised at speeds approaching 30 miles per hour. Pricing starts at $46,400.
BMW M235i Convertible
Of course, BMW is represented on this list of the fastest convertibles under $50,000. Truth be told, if you’ve any kind of sensitivity at all as a driver, you‘ll need less than a mile of driving to realize any BMW automobile is one of the smoothest cars you’ve ever driven. They simply do everything with a grace and fluidity we’ve yet to experience from any other product—even those renowned for their smoothness. Introduced as a mid-season entry into the already impressive 2015 BMW lineup; the new 2 Series Convertibles came to market as the entry-level BMW open models. But don’t let their low rung on the brand’s product ladder dissuade you. The M235i Convertible shows up with all of the legendary BMW power, handling, and utter sophistication intact. This means quick acceleration, determined road-holding, a supple ride, reasonable fuel economy, and more than a heaping helping of style. M235i Convertible pricing starts at $48,750.
In addition to being one of the fastest convertibles under $50,000, the 2016 BMW Z4 is also among the top ten convertible sports cars for 2016. Leading its list of virtues is the flexibility of the Z4’s folding hardtop. This gives the BMW the ability to be a Coupe when you need it to be, and a convertible when you want it to be. Thus, you get the security of a hardtop combined with the thrills of a roadster—a very compelling proposition. The archetypal long hood, short deck proportions of the Z4 give it a classic appearance, while the mechanicals and creature comforts are very 21st century. Engine output ranges from 240 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs of torque, to 335 horsepower and 332 ft-lbs of torque. BMW offers but one transmission—a seven-speed automated manual dual-clutch gearbox feeds the rear wheels. Pricing starts at $49,250.
Chevrolet Camaro Convertible
We’ve all known the Chevrolet Camaro so long it’s like a member of the family. Further, there have been convertible Camaros in the lineup almost as long as there have been Camaros. In fact, only one generation of the car was offered without a convertible variant. On top of everything else, the Chevrolet Camaro is one of the most recognizable American cars ever made. And, with a broad array of exceptionally powerful engines in its portfolio, it’s also one of the fastest convertibles under $50,000.
The all-new 2016 model gets a revised suspension system to improve its ride quality while still delivering razor-sharp handling. And, for the first time ever, Camaro can be had with a four-cylinder engine. For 2016, Chevrolet Camaro pricing starts at $25,700.
Fiat 500 Abarth Convertible
The Abarth version of the cute little FIAT 500 came to the U.S. market in 2012. Power for the frantic little convertible comes from a 160-horsepower version of the Fiat 500’s 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 170 ft-lbs of torque. This is funneled to the front wheels through a five-speed manual transmission. Unique Abarth parts include a cold air intake system with a high-flow air filter, and an Abarth-designed free-flowing dual tipped exhaust system, which screams like a maniac when the scrappy little Fiat is running hard. In addition to the engine revisions, the 500 Abarth gets a performance-tuned suspension system, bigger brakes, and an aggressive aerodynamic styling kit. Is there any wonder this cracking little Fiat is under the delusion it’s a Ferrari? Pricing starts at $26,595.
Ford Mustang Convertible
How successful would you have to be to get an entire segment of the automotive market named for you? Well, the Ford Mustang is a good example, as the pony car category owes its very existence to the sleek two-door—which is also one of the fastest convertibles under $50,000. An all-new Mustang bowed for the 2015 model year with the long-awaited independent rear suspension system, as well as a new 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The thing is, the Ford Mustang is priced so reasonably, you can choose just about any of the powerful engines in its portfolio and still keep the price under $50,000. For 2016, convertible Mustang pricing starts at $29,395.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
The all-new redesigned 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata comes to market as the latest incarnation of the world’s favorite two-seat roadster. It is also one of the fastest convertibles under $50,000. In a countermove to almost every other new car launched these days, the 2016 MX-5 is some 200 pounds lighter than the 2015 Miata it replaces. This results in a faster and better-handling sports car from the people who use the phrase “Zoom-Zoom” as their guiding philosophy. Meanwhile, the Mazda also offers a complete array of contemporary comfort, convenience, and safety features. A 155-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 148 ft-lbs of torque generates power. This is fed to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual transmission, or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters as an option. Pricing starts at $25,735.
So strong is the familial resemblance, it’s quite easy (at first glance) to mistake the Mercedes-Benz SLK for its more costly SL sibling. Thanks to its folding hardtop’s glass roof panel, the SLK is truly one of a kind in the world of sports cars, as no other model offers the combination. Power for the luxuriously outfitted SLK models comes from engine choices ranging in output from 201 horsepower and 229 ft-lbs of torque, up to 415 horsepower and 398 ft-lbs. A six-speed manual transmission is standard for the base model, while a seven-speed automatic is offered as an option (the seven-speed is standard with all other models). Power goes to the rear wheels and pricing starts at $47,000.
Nissan 370Z Roadster
As the current iteration of the 370Z Roadster has been with us since 2009, we’re expecting a new model pretty soon. Until then, the Z goes into the 2016 model year with Bose audio as standard on all except the most basic models. Further, Active Noise Control, and an Active Sound Enhancer have been added to make the Z a bit more sonorous when it’s in operation. A regular on annual top ten convertible sports car lists, as well as one of the fastest convertibles under $50,000, the 2016 Nissan 370Z Roadster uses a 3.7-liter V6 making 332 horsepower and 270 ft-lbs of torque to feed the rear wheels through a rev-matching six-speed manual transmission. A seven-speed automatic with manual capability and rev matching is optional. Pricing starts at $41,820.