2009: What's New In Convertibles

By Zach Bowman
Infiniti G Convertible
Infiniti G Convertible

What better to get your mind off of the economic doom and gloom than a quick ride with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair? Many manufacturers are hunkering down and ditching fun-to-drive rides, but that doesn’t mean 2009 is bereft of new convertibles. Porsche, BMW, Ford and MINI all have new or redesigned models out for the New Year. Some of our old favorites may be living on borrowed time, too, meaning it’s a great time to pick up one of these models before they’re gone for good.


MINI Cooper Convertible
MINI Cooper Convertible

Porsche has taken its entry-level Boxster to the next level with a new direct-injection flat six-cylinder engine. Power has been increased by 10 horsepower to 255 in the base model and a larger 3.4-liter variant with 310 horsepower is available in the Boxster S. The extra gusto is nice, but the biggest news is the company’s new seven-speed double-clutch transmission is now available in both. That means lightening fast shifts, better fuel economy and the ease of an automatic mode. The 2009 Porsche Boxster starts at $46,600.

If you’ve got a taste for German engineering but can’t quite place yourself in a Boxster, BMW just might have the solution. The company has completely reworked its Z4 roadster – ditching the old soft top for a clever new retractable hard top. Unlike most RHT vehicles, the Z4 retains its classic roadster styling without growing an oversized posterior. Under the hood, BMW dropped in the familial turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six with 300 horsepower. Of course, you can opt for a less potent 255 horse version as well. A six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic are available. BMW hasn’t released pricing details for the Z4 just yet, but we’re guessing the price will hover around the current model’s $36,700 MSRP.

MINI introduced an updated version of its beloved Cooper Convertible at the Detroit Auto Show this year. The second-generation car retains all the iconic styling that made the first drop-top MINI a success, but works in two new fuel-thrifty motors. The base car comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 118 ponies, though the Cooper S sports a turbocharged version of the same motor with 172 horsepower. The best part is the Cooper Convertible stays true to its affordable motoring mantra – starting at $24,550.

Of course, not everyone’s looking to continue down the fun-in-the-sun path. Honda recently announced S2000 production would end with the 2009 model year. That means that by the time 2010 rolls around, the Honda roadster will be a thing of the past. Thanks to its 237 horsepower 2.2-liter engine and rigid, sports-tuned suspension, the S2000 offers uncompromising performance. The car is only available with a six-speed manual, and since Honda has no plans to follow up with an S2000 descendent, this may become one very collectible car in the future. Of course, it’s also a lot of fun to drive right now. The S2000 starts at $34,995.

If you like the idea of sun on your cheeks but need a little more space, Infiniti is bringing the Convertible G to market by mid-2009. Another retractable hard-top, the G offers plenty of seating and power to match. Under the hood, you’ll find Nissan’s new 3.7-liter V-6 with 325 horsepower. Coupled to the G’s 7-speed automatic transmission, this drop top will have no problems scooting down the road. Infiniti hasn’t said one way or the other about price, but expect something in the mid-$40s.

Things may be dark for automakers everywhere right now, but that doesn’t mean they’re turning their backs on carefree driving machines. These examples are just a few of the hot new rides to keep an eye on. There are still old favorites tucked away on dealer lots everywhere. Odds are you may be able to stumble across some pretty sweet incentives for less basic models right now, too. There’s no denying it, now’s a good time for a tan.

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