Get Lost in the Breeze in the Best Convertibles of 2021

Best convertibles of 2021 article highlights:

  • Roadshow recently compiled a list of the best convertibles on sale in 2021
  • On the affordable side, the 2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata won ‘best convertible overall,’ while the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible was the best value
  • The best performance roadster is the 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet, while luxury-minded buyers should seek out the BMW M850i xDrive or Rolls-Royce Dawn

It might be winter as I write this, but some snow in the air doesn’t mean you can’t rock a roadster. There’s also a practical benefit to shopping for a convertible right now. Although car shortages have made prices a bit crazy, winter is generally the best convertible buying season. And the convertible cars listed below are some of your best options for drop-top driving in 2021.  

2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Roadshow’s best convertible is also one of the best affordable sports cars

A gray 2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata on a city street
2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible sports car | Mazda

It’s arguably cliché at this point, but there’s a reason why ‘Miata is always the answer’ is a common enthusiast refrain. Although the Mazda MX-5 Miata isn’t the only convertible sports car, and it’s certainly not the fastest, it is one of the best.

Case in point, Roadshow says it’s the “best convertible overall” in 2021. And it’s not the only one saying so. MotorTrend put it the #1 overall spot as well, and in the ‘best 2021 convertible under $50,000’ category. Car and Driver named it to its “best convertibles of 2021” list, too.

So, what makes this $26,830 convertible sports car so beloved? Even in its latest form, the 181-hp Mazda Miata remains a lightweight, RWD roadster with smile-inducing handling. Throw on a set of winter tires and you have a simple snow-day drift machine (I know from experience). And if you give it a roll bar and some performance rubber, you’ve got a great autocross tool.

Plus, besides being affordable, the Miata is also reliable and cheap to maintain. Also, even in 2021, you can put the soft-top roof up or down one-handed, Roadshow notes. And despite some worrying initial reports, the 2022 Miata promises to deliver more of the same.

No, it’s not the most spacious or practical convertible. But that doesn’t stop the 2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata from being the best.

The best value-for-money roadster is the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible, Roadshow says

A blue 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe in-between two silver Convertibles overlooking the ocean
2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe and Convertibles | Chevrolet

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While the Miata tops Roadshow’s list of the best 2021 convertibles, there are other appealing roadsters. And in terms of value, Roadshow’s top pick is the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible.

In Targa-roofed coupe form, the mid-engine C8 Corvette can tango with some noticeably pricier European sports cars. And while the $68,495 Corvette Convertible costs $7500 more, it doesn’t dampen any of the C8’s highlights, Roadshow reports.

You still get a mid-mounted 490-hp 6.2-liter V8, a fast-shifting but smooth eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, and suspension that balances comfort and handling well. If you want some extra sporty spice, the Z51 Package adds Brembo brakes, an electronic limited-slip differential, and a performance exhaust worth an extra five horsepower. And all this still leaves the 2021 Corvette Stingray Convertible cheaper than rivals like the Porsche 911.

In short, the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible gives you a lot of bang for your buck. And that’s why it’s the best 2021 convertible bargain.

For a luxurious experience, go with the 2021 BMW 8 Series

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Sadly for US convertible customers, BMW isn’t offering the drop-top M8 here. But we do get the regular 8 Series Convertible in 840i and M850i xDrive forms. And though BMW has several convertible models, including the Consumer Reports-recommended Z4, Roadshow named the 8 Series as its best luxury convertible for 2021. More specifically, it gave the nod to the M850i variant.

With a $122,395 starting price, the 2021 BMW M850i xDrive isn’t exactly cheap. But you do get quite a bit of performance for those six figures. Under the hood is a 523-hp 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 linked to an eight-speed automatic and standard AWD. That’s enough to let this 4643-lb grand tourer go 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds, Car and Driver reports. And being able to drop the top means you can hear that burbly, rumbly V8 better.

Furthermore, when you don’t need to rush, the 2021 BMW M850i Convertible lives up to its ‘best luxury convertible’ appellation. The adaptive dampers and solid chassis make the car feel “fleet and agile” despite its weight without compromising ride quality, Roadshow says. Even without the optional crystalline-glass trim, the interior materials are excellent. The leather-upholstered seats are extremely comfortable, too. And thanks to the standard wind-blocker and heated steering wheel, you can drive top-down for long periods without issue. The optional neck warmer helps, though.

If you want an ultra-luxurious drop-top, though, 2021 is your last chance for the Rolls-Royce Dawn

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What’s more luxurious than a $122,000 BMW 8 Series? How about a $356,500 Rolls-Royce convertible? If that number seems arbitrary, it’s not. That’s how much Roadshow’s best ‘ultraluxury’ convertible for 2021, the Rolls-Royce Dawn, costs. And even at that price, the Dawn is considered an entry-level Rolls-Royce.

It won’t hold that position for much longer, though. Rolls-Royce is canceling the Dawn in the US after 2021, along with the Wraith. The decision stems from parent company BMW canceling those cars’ platform, which also underpins the 7 Series. So, if you want to get into the cheapest Rolls-Royce convertible, you better act quickly.

Just because the Dawn is the cheapest Rolls-Royce convertible doesn’t make it any less luxurious, though. Under the hood is a 563-hp 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V12 that is as smooth as it is silent. Car and Driver uses words like “heavenly” and “creamy” to describe the comfort and quality of the seats and ride. And you won’t need a hardtop with a soft-top as insulated and quiet as the Dawn’s roof.

$356,500 is a lot to spend on any car, roadster or otherwise. But when that car is as luxurious as a Rolls-Royce Dawn, it suddenly makes a lot of sense.

The best performance convertible of 2021 is the Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet

The rear 3/4 view of a white 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet with its red roof down
2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet rear 3/4 | Porsche

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As noted earlier, the Mazda Miata earned Roadshow’s and MotorTrend’s ‘best convertible overall’ spot. But if you’re willing to spend (well) over $50,000 on a convertible performance car, the best option is the Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet.

Being the most extreme non-GT 911, the Turbo S isn’t lacking in the performance department. Its rear-mounted 3.7-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six sends 640 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed DCT and standard AWD. So, even though the Cabriolet weighs 180 pounds more than the coupe, it still goes 0-60 mph in 2.3 seconds. That makes it one of the fastest production vehicles in Car and Driver’s testing history. Forget performance car, the 911 Turbo S Cabriolet is a convertible supercar.

Supercar performance does mean a supercar price tag, though. You could buy eight Miatas for the price of one $219,800 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet. And that’s before you start adding options like the axle-lift system, carbon-ceramic brakes, and Burmester audio. But you don’t need those things to enjoy the Turbo S Cabriolet’s solid chassis, excellent handling, daily civility, and “borderline terrifying” acceleration, Roadshow says.

True, the best performance convertible car of 2021 carries a big sticker. But remember, the other roadsters on this list are great in their own ways. And you don’t need to pay big bucks to enjoy the breeze.

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