Feature article

Best convertibles of 2023 and 2024

The fun loving convertible is becoming a rarity on the new car market. We take a look at what's available in NZ.

Last updated: 20 December 2023

Dropping the top on a convertible and hitting the road would be high on our list of summer to do’s. However, the fun loving convertible is becoming a rarity on the new car market. Where once you could get a convertible version of hum drum hatches like the Ford Focus, Nissan Micra and Holden Astra, those days are gone. Ford’s new Mustang Convertible won’t be offered in New Zealand, even to order.

Now the convertible really is the preserve of the luxury class, and the upper echelons of the segment too. You can no longer buy a new BMW drop top here in NZ, nor get a convertible from Audi. Mercedes-Benz still does a couple with its new CLE arriving soon to replace both the C- and E-Class Cabriolets, and there’s the new SL. This is the newest of the uber expensive drop top brigade.

Mercedes-AMG SL

The range topping convertible from Mercedes-Benz is all new, co-developed with the second-gen AMG GT, and features AWD and all-wheel steer. The familiar V8 twin turbo sounds amazing and while the new platform is much stiffer than before, the ride quality is still pretty acceptable, even in Sports mode after heading off in Comfort. It looks up to speed too, as you’ll no doubt have noticed. Literally too, with a 0-100km/h claim of 3.5sec and top speed of 315km/h. 

And the latest version is completely bonkers. The SL 63 S E Performance is the brand’s most powerful iteration of the two-seat roadster. ‘E Performance’ means it’s a hybrid, a plug-in one in this case. Along with the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, there is a 150kW electric motor mounted to the rear axle. Together, they produce a ludicrous 600kW and 1420Nm of torque. Said power is sent to all four wheels via Mercedes’ 4Matic+ all-wheel drive system, enabling the two-seat roadster to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 2.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 317km/h.

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Mercedes-AMG SL for sale

Jeep Wrangler

Not many convertibles have four doors, or the ability to go pretty much anywhere, but the Jeep Wrangler does. The Unlimited models have ‘Freedom Panels’ above the front seats, allowing you to quickly remove the front section of the roof for some ‘air in the hair’ driving. But you can go all out and remove the entire roof completely giving all on board a blow out. 

You can even remove the doors too. This gives a truly unique driving experience, the breeze coming at you from all directions, and the lack of tin between you and the surrounding traffic feels truly odd. But it’s a boon for an off roader, for it’s easier to see exactly where the right front and rear wheels are tracking while getting in and out to check obstacles would be easier too.

Read the full review on Autocar: 2019 Jeep Wrangler Overland Unlimited review and tear down!

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Jeep Wrangler for sale

Mazda MX-5

Still the best convertible is the Mazda MX-5. The Mazda MX-5 is now well and truly a classic. It has been around since 1989, and the latest variant dubbed MX-5 Roadster GT is essentially much the same as it was all those years ago…with a few key differences. For it’s still rear-wheel drive, still has a small IL4 naturally aspirated engine, can be had with a six-speed manual transmission and the roadster model still has a soft top. There are still just the two seats and the boot remains something that will really only hold gear for two for a weekend. Perfect then.

It’s for purists who appreciate the car for what it is – a roadster that quickly transforms to an open-top and corners like its life depended on it.

Read the full review on Autocar: 2023 Mazda MX-5 GT review

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Mazda MX-5 for sale

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Kyle Cassidy
Kyle Cassidy
Editor NZ Autocar magazine - autocar.co.nz

Kyle has been reviewing cars since starting at NZ Autocar magazine in 2003 and has been editor since 2009. In that time he’s become an expert on what makes for a good vehicle while also gaining insights into the local automotive industry.