Best car for a summer roadie? Here's what we'd choose
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Now that summer's officially here, we thought we'd discuss the best cars to take out for some summer fun!
To make the most of our good weather, you'd obviously want a convertible, so we've all made our picks based on this, and we've also stayed below $100,000 to keep things realistic.
Here are three options that we all think are the best, but there can only be one winner, so make sure you cast your vote at the bottom of the article!
Editor, Dean Evans: Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
I’m clearly gunning for popular voting this week. While the head says buy the MX-5, the heart says the Abarth 595 Competizione Convertible. But no, they won’t win the popular vote in any state (drunk or sober), so I’ve gone for one of the most smartphone-photographed cars I’ve driven this year, the Jeep Gladiator.
Sure, my head pushes me towards the $89,990 Overland ‘road-biased’ model, and with its big tray and removeable roof panels, it ticks all the boxes for a Summer fun car. But for this exercise, I’d man-up and go full hog with the $92,990 Rubicon. Click and twist the levers and pull all the roof panels off, remove the doors and replace them with the ‘tubes’, drop the windscreen and tattoo my upper arm with the Jeep grille, because, kids, we’re goin’ off-roading this Summer!
With 209kW and 347Nm from its 3.6-litre V6 engine, there isn’t much paper-bragging to spruik off to the mates over a Lion Red while overcooking a steak on the campfire.
The steering is slow, the turning circle like the moon’s orbit and the wind noise at motorways speeds is like vacuuming your ear canals, but just look at it! It’s tough, rugged and manly, so I don’t care that it has adaptive cruise control or a removeable Bluetooth speaker. Actually I do – I rather like those features.
Its towing capacity is ‘just’ 2.7 tonne and its 620kg payload is less than a Ranger Raptor, but it has character and loads of it. I know I’ll look an action figure in a 1:1 Hot Wheels, but if my neck is sunburnt red, my legs are covered in mud and mozzie bites and I’ve had a week away off-roading in a Rubicon, it’s been a great load of Summer fun. My accompanying family, burnt, mud and bug-splattered, may not entirely agree...
Deputy Editor, David Linklater: Mazda MX-5 (100th Anniversary)
The correct answer to any question that includes the phrase “best convertible” is always Mazda MX-5.
We’re celebrating summer here, so it seems natural to celebrate some other stuff, like Mazda’s 100th anniversary. Not of manufacturing cars – it started as a cork-maker. But still, we all change, right?
Enter the MX-5 100th Anniversary Edition. It’s part (the best part) of a range of celebration Mazda models that were launched in 2020, in white with special red detailing and trim (homage to the colour scheme of the R360, the company’s first passenger car).
It comes in soft-top or RF (Retractable Fastback) body shapes and while I like the comedy roof stylings of the latter, the MX-5 always appeals most with a classic fabric lid. Especially with the 100 Edition, because it’s red. Love it.
This one is manual only of course, with the larger 135kW/205Nm 2.0l powerplant. It’s simply an awesome little roadster.
There’s been no shortage of special-edition MX-5 models over the years of course, so this is not a new idea. But a 100th birthday only comes once, so this is a must-have.
Digital Writer, Andrew Sluys: Ford Mustang GT
There isn't a car on earth that's better suited to summer cruising than a convertible Mustang GT.
Unfortunately here in New Zealand, you can only get the drop-top stang GT with an automatic transmission, not having to worry about shifting gears only gives you more time to work on your hand placement out the window.
You get the same 5.0-litre Coyote V8 as the regular 'Stang that makes a hefty 306kW and 530Nm. This is enough to scoot to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds and smoke any pesky MX-5s that bother you.
When it comes to colours, you can go as wild as you like, with options such as Grabber Lime, Twister Orange, and Race Red, or keep things classy with an understated Rapid Red or Kona Blue.
You also get all the latest Ford tech including an 8-inch infotainment display, adaptive cruise control, and all the safety tech you would expect in any new car.
If that isn't enough freedom to win you over, we can imagine that the team at Ford New Zealand will also be willing to throw a Lynyrd Skynyrd album in to sweeten the deal.