Car Reviews: The Affordable Convertible

Road tripping in a convertible is a fun way to explore Muskoka in summer: bright sun, beautiful breezes, stunning lakeside scenery. You can see just about everything with the top down; suddenly a mundane drive for groceries becomes an adventure! But how do you do it without breaking the bank? Read on… MuskokaStyle‘s pro auto writer Peter Gilbert gives us a list of cars that will get you Muskoka stylin’ without a huge outlay of cash.

“Suddenly a mundane drive for groceries becomes an adventure!”

Miata Lead Muskoka Road


Full disclosure: I own a Miata, and love it, especially in Muskoka. One of the joys of a convertible is that you can see everything: sky, birds, sunsets, headlights lighting that tunnel of trees as you drive your cottage road late at night with the top-down.

The Miata has been doing wonders for decades, and Mazda has nailed it again with the latest generation of the prototypical two-seater sports car: the MX5 Miata. Mazda has resisted the growing creep of size and weight to produce a new generation Miata practically the same size as the 1990 original. Powered by a modest 155 horses, in an era where even compacts have more ponies under the hood, the Miata proves the old adage true: it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast, than a fast car slow. Not that it’s slow! But it ain’t ludicrously fast, either.

2016’s Miatas are reasonably powered for a winding Muskoka road. Connected steering tells you what’s going on down at the tires, a firm but compliant suspension keeps order, and beautifully balanced handling links you to the road.

Best of all: a top that drops with a flick of a lever from the driver’s seat. Boom! You’re topless.

Coming later this year: possibly the sexiest-looking Miata ever, the Miata RF (for Retractable Fastback) gives the look of a sleek coupe with a top that powers down in seconds.

“With a flick of a lever from the driver’s seat. Boom! You’re topless.”

Pack carefully. You can’t bring all your stuff. And you can’t bring all of your friends, either. Choose one. They’ll thank you.

Pricetag: $31,900 CDN


Ford Mustang Convertible

Upon a firing up a Mustang GT convertible at my Muskoka cottage years ago, my small nephew Jake rumbled: “It sounds like a race car!”

The new Mustang has street cred that’s hard to beat; it’s the original Pony car, back and better than ever. From the power top, to the rear seat for sprouts (or flexible friends), underhood horses according to your wallet’s depth, and an independent rear suspension for the first time in Mustang history—this convertible makes a statement.

“It sounds like a race car!”

There are people out there who think of a big ol’ Murican V8 when they think of a Mustang, but there is a V6 and a Turbo 4 available as well. Plus, the smaller engines do a great job of saving fuel while motivating the Mustang briskly.

The top doesn’t impinge much on the trunk space, leaving lots of room for weekend jaunts to the cottage.

Put this in your mind’s eye: You and three friends, top down, cruising to your cottage’s local ice cream shoppe, sun toasting the backs of your necks…. All this and that beauty exhaust burble, too.

Pricetag: $37,458 CDN


Chevrolet Camaro LT1

You can’t talk about the Mustang without mentioning its mortal enemy, the Camaro. Rebooted years ago in the Transformers franchise as “Bumblebee”, the Camaro coupe has showcar looks and visibility issues… Cut the roof off, though, and the sky’s the limit.

The question then becomes: Ford or Chevy? The Camaro has a roof that can be remotely operated by the key fob, and can even be raised or lowered at up to 50 km/h. It offers turbo 4, V6 or V8 power like the Mustang. And when you lower the top you gain what the coupe lacks: virtually unlimited visibility.

“This Pony car is a great way to sun yourself.”

While the battle between these two rages on, the buyer benefits from the competition: two great cars, each with their own style and followers. This Pony car is a great way to sun yourself.

Pricetag: $37,000

Honourable Mentions
Fiat 124 & Jeep Wrangler

The soon-to-be released Fiat 124 reboot is based on the Miata, so you know it’ll be good, not to mention reliable, unlike its “Fix It Again, Tony” ancestors. Italian flare, Japanese reliability.

“Origato, bella!”

Finally, while the Jeep Wrangler doesn’t really fit in the sports car category with all of the above, it is offered as a convertible. And with a little time with a Torx tool, you can even take the doors off! Now, THAT’S open air driving!

So many choices, so little summer to enjoy them! Grab your keys, drop the top, and cruise on into the Muskoka sunset. Life’s more fun when you pop the top!

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