Five Fuel-Sipping Convertibles for Summer

May 30, 2008
0805 04z+2008 Volkswagen Eos+front Three Quarters View
Few closed-top cars can give you as much enjoyment during the daily commute as a convertible can. Whether it's smelling the fragrances of spring or inhaling diesel fumes from the city bus, there's something special about top-down motoring.
Now that Old Man Winter is back in hibernation, it's time to enjoy some fresh air. Don't let the record high fuel prices ruin your summer fun, though - here is a list of the five most fuel-efficient convertibles available today.
0805 05z+2008 Mazda MX5 Roadster+rear Three Quarters View Driving
5th Place: Mazda MX-5 Miata (EPA 22/27: Combined 24 mpg) It might be in last place on this list, but there's no question that the MX-5 is the fun one of the bunch.
It's a throwback to a time when cars were smaller, lighter, simpler - and ultimately, more fun. It's not a rocketship, but with one of the best shifters in the business, you'll never long for more power when driving an MX-5 - just a longer commute.
0805 06z+2008 Audi A4 Cabriolet+front Three Quarters View
4th Place: (tie)Volkswagen Eos 2.0T / Audi A4 Cabriolet 2.0T (EPA 21/30: Combined 25 mpg) This is a two-way tie for two cars that share their engine - Volkswagen's direct-injected 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder. Choose either the hard-top Eos or the soft-top A4, and you're treated to a Teutonic delight with four seats.
The A4 is definitely the looker of the bunch, as the Eos' proportions are a little awkward; but the Eos offers a six-speed manual or VW's twin-clutch DSG transmission. The Audi, meanwhile, makes do with a continuously variable transmission that saps some of the fun-but none of the fresh air.
0805 03z+2008 Audi TT Roadster+rear Three Quarters View
3rd Place: Audi TT 2.0T (EPA 22/29: Combined 25 mpg) If you want to make a fashion statement and not spend a fortune at the pump, there's no better way than the TT.
The second generation roadster continues the legacy of the first model with drop-dead good looks, but adds sporty handling to the mix. Its structure is rock-solid, and its suspension firm, so it's not for the soft of heart - but it can melt hearts with its looks alone.
0805 02z+2008 Mini Cooper Cabrio+side View
2nd Place: Mini Cooper Convertible (EPA 22/32: Combined 27 mpg) Retro is still in, baby - and there's no better way to rock out to some funky 60s music than in a Mini Cooper with the top down. Especially well suited to tall drivers, the upright Mini makes a fantastic convertible-it's fun to drive, looks great, and delivers great fuel economy.
1st Place: Smart ForTwo Convertible (EPA 33/41: Combined 37 mpg) By now you've probably noticed a trend: the Top 5 cars here are German. That's because Germans love open-air driving, and they adore fuel efficient vehicles. While the Smart isn't a true fully open convertible, its ragtop gives almost all of the feeling of a convertible.
0805 01z+2008 Smart For Two Cabrior+rear Three Quarters View
Of course, the little Smart isn't the best choice for a long trip on the open road, but for tooling around the city without sucking the tank dry, it's the clear winner here. After all, it uses a full third less fuel around town than the 2nd place Mini Cooper does.


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