It seems that all the main roads these days are perpetually choked up with crossovers. Getting anywhere has become a grind. It’s time to rediscover the fun with a fast Convertible.
People who haven’t started families yet, or empty-nesters at the other end of that life experience, can think about one of these cars as their sole transportation. Even going to the dentist could be anticipated eagerly. And when you spend less than $50,000, a quick convertible could also be a spare car, something to roll out on the weekends when the more scenic roads beckon. That’s because these convertibles aren’t just about speed, they’re about stimulating several senses at once. These 10 fastest convertibles under $50,000 (listed alphabetically) will bring the joy back into driving.
2020 Audi TT Roadster
At $49,995 including its destination charge, the 2020 Audi TT Roadster sneaks onto this list by the merest of margins. But the two-seat TT Roadster is a lot of car for the cash. It comes standard with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive, making it a Convertible for all seasons. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine puts 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque at the driver’s disposal, enabling a brisk standstill-to-60 mph time of 5.5 seconds.
Also included is typically cool Audi exterior and interior design, plus a generous amount of standard equipment — such as a digital driver information display, phone signal booster, and wireless charging.
2020 Audi A5 Cabriolet
Given that the 2019 version starts at $52,195, we understand why the revamped-for-2020 A5 Cabriolet might be ineligible for this list. However, if we are allowed to push this pricing envelope by a few thousand, there must surely be some buyers who could stretch their budget. And it might still be less expensive than the competing 2020 Mercedes-Benz C 300 Cabriolet, which starts at about $55,000.
Although the 2020 A5 Cabriolet gains some upgrades, the engine should stay the same. So that’s 248 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It takes six seconds to reach 60 mph from a standing start.
2020 BMW 230i Convertible
Buyers could stretch to the all-wheel drive 230i xDrive variant for $44,095, but the regular rear-drive 2020 230i Convertible at $42,095 before options seems like more of an enthusiast’s choice since it’s lighter (by 141 pounds) and arguably a little more fun. And more fun in a 2 Series adds to an already lavish supply.
It takes 5.6 seconds to hustle from 0 to 60 mph, thanks to 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The subcompact, four-seat 2 Series also handles exceptionally well, while packing some great standard equipment like 10-way power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and front and rear parking sensors.
2020 BMW Z4 sDrive30i Roadster
The only way this car can really qualify to be among these sub-$50k fastest convertibles is to somehow negotiate a sweet deal with a BMW salesperson, since its base price is $49,700 and then there’s a $995 destination charge to add.
If the planets align for determined Z4 buyers, they will find the new generation (which debuted last year) to be sweetly athletic with an ideal 50/50 weight distribution. This sDrive30i model employs a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine delivering 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. BMW says the car can go from rest to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.
2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible
There are less expensive Camaro convertibles, but the SS soft-top is the most powerful and still comes in at $43,995. This is really quite an amazing machine. It has a 6.2-liter V8 linked to a six-speed manual transmission (with rev-matched downshifts) driving the rear wheels with 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque. And this starting price would still leave money in the budget for a 10-speed automatic transmission, should that be a preference.
A limited-slip rear differential is standard on the Camaro SS, as are Brembo brakes, an adaptive suspension, 20-inch alloy wheels, a Bose audio system, and a head-up display. As well as hitting 60 mph in just four seconds (the quickest of this bunch), it will sound absolutely thrilling in the process.
2020 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth
There’s a tradition of calling convertibles Spider or Spyder. We don’t have room here to go into why, but just know that the FIAT 124 Spider is a two-seat Convertible and the Abarth is the sportiest version. With the six-speed manual transmission, the 124 Spider Abarth is a tempting $31,035.
For that money, there’s a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 164 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque that drives the rear wheels. Zero to 60 mph is not crazy-fast at 6.4 seconds, but the 124 Spider Abarth has a tauter suspension than its regular counterpart, including a front strut tower bar to stiffen the front end and make the steering sharper. So the car certainly feels energetic and nimble.
2020 Ford Mustang 2.3 EcoBoost HPP Convertible
A 460-hp, V8-powered Mustang GT Convertible costs $46,225 and can zip to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. But there’s an even better choice. New for 2020, the 2.3 EcoBoost High Performance Package (HPP) brings a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine for 332 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, plus suspension upgrades over the regular Mustang. The convertible version starts at $38,260.
A 10-speed automatic transmission ($1,595 extra) has a launch mode, enabling 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. But being one of the 10 fastest convertibles under $50,000 isn’t only about straight-line speed. This Mustang is about 200 pounds lighter up front than a V8 sibling and feels more balanced, better able to be flung into quick corners.
2020 Jeep Wrangler
Yes, this is kind of cheating, but the 2020 Wrangler SUV is technically a Convertible. And although we’ve all been stuck behind slow-moving Wranglers on public roads, the current version offers some useful power.
The standard engine is a 3.6-liter V6, but we prefer the superior torque (295 lb-ft) of the optional 276-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder unit available from the Sport S trim upward. The mild hybrid variant of this drivetrain in the Sahara model brings a standstill-to-60 mph time of around 6.5 seconds, while still keeping expenditure under $45,000. We probably wouldn’t want to go zooming around town in a Wrangler, given its off-road-friendly setup, but it’s still a gutsy machine.
2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata
While it’s neither super-powerful nor scarily quick, the MX-5 is perpetual fun. And sprinting from standstill to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds is certainly respectable for a two-seat roadster that starts at around $27,000.
The main thing about the MX-5 is how easy it is to access its muscle: 181 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. And the benign, well-balanced rear-drive chassis can appeal to drivers with a range of talent and experience. Encounter a snaking road and the MX-5 will thread its way around corners with precision and poise. In addition, there’s Mazda’s excellent build quality and reliability to enjoy, along with standard blind-spot monitoring — a boon when the roof is up.
2020 Mini John Cooper Works Convertible
Here’s another fabulous-handling small car that just happens to offer the open-topped driving experience. Thanks to its darting nature, it deserves a place among these 10 fastest convertibles under $50,000. This Mini variant starts at $39,750 and that includes an eight-speed sport-tuned automatic transmission.
The JCW Convertible employs a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 228 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. The car will sprint from standstill to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, which doesn’t sound that impressive. However, this front-drive car has the sportiest suspension of any Mini and can slash through corners. Through a set of tight turns, the JCW Convertible will keep up with, or pull away from, more powerful but less agile cars.