Convertible. The word conjures up lovely images of sunny summer days, cruising with the top down through beautiful scenery. You are sharing this experience with the person(s) closest to you. The destination could be the beach or a weekend getaway in the countryside. The roads are clear and dry. You feel the warm breeze on your face. The drive is pure pleasure. You don’t have a care in the world. Everything is perfect.
Now wake up. It’s time to deal with reality.
Unless you live in southern California, or a similar area where it never gets too hot or too cold, this will not be your typical driving scenario. A convertible is an awesome vehicle when conditions are right, but in most parts of the US you only get a few months each year when it’s good top-down weather.
Depending on your exact GPS coordinates, your wind-in-the-hair season could be either spring and fall or late spring through early fall. Plus the day must be dry and temperate.
The rest of the time, the top will be up, protecting you from cold, snow, rain, heat and humidity. Another issue with many convertibles is that they are rear-wheel drive and not designed for extreme weather conditions.
Convertibles are truly an automotive dilemma. They are at once the ideal choice for your automotive fantasies and the least practical option for your daily needs. How can your heart and your head possibly agree?
Fortunately, there is a subset of convertibles that are equipped for year-round, all-weather operation. These convertibles come with all-wheel drive, providing traction and grip that’s as good as any SUV when the weather gets bad.
An added benefit of all-wheel drive is the balanced traction it provides when you probe the limits of your car’s performance, even in ideal conditions. Today’s all-wheel drive systems can sense how well each wheel is gripping and make adjustments to get you through the tightest curves, safely and without drama.
Our collection of eight all-wheel drive convertibles covers a variety of styles and price points. They range in price from around $40,000 to over $200,000. Four of them are two-seaters (or 2+2s, as with the Porsches) and four of them have a back seat. Six have soft tops, one has a retractable hardtop, and one has a Targa top. As it turns out, every single one is from a European brand. What do they know that we don’t?
Six have turbocharged engines and two use superchargers to make their power. Speaking of power, these all-wheel drive convertibles have outputs ranging from a more-than-adequate 220 horsepower to a supercar-like 580 horsepower. Driving pleasure guaranteed!
Take a look at these automotive equivalents of a Swiss army knife. They combine top-down motoring with all-weather traction. One of them may be just right for the convertible lover in you!
8. Audi A3 Cabriolet with quattro all-wheel drive
Base Price: $40,300
The 2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet with quattro all-wheel drive may be Audi’s entry-level all-wheel drive convertible, but it comes very well equipped. Relax in the standard 10-way power front seats with leather seating surfaces, set the dual-zone automatic climate control, grab the multifunction steering wheel, and crank up the 9-speaker audio system, This is a small convertible with a lot of luxury touches!
Outside, the A3 Cabriolet comes with state of the art lighting systems for seeing safely in the worst conditions. Automatic xenon light-sensing headlights, LED daytime running lights, and LED taillights with rear fog lights are all standard. The retractable soft top contains sound-deadening and insulating material to keep the cabin quiet and warm. It retracts in just 18 seconds at the touch of a button, and can be lowered at speeds up to 31 mph. You don’t have to stop to let the sun shine in!
A 220-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides plenty of power on back roads or highways. The A3 Cabriolet puts its power down to the road through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive. Handling is smooth and sure-footed, rain or shine.