Baseball fans are a distinctive lot. I know—I’ve been one of them for the better part of 45 years.
And for fans of the Summer Game, Spring Training is the most sublime part of the season. Stealing time from the cool weather of late February and March to rub shoulders with All-Stars, rookie hopefuls and those who play the game without tons of fanfare is an unrivaled experience. And nothing adds to that experience better than a convertible.
Feeling the Florida breeze through your hair or the Arizona sun raining warmth over you renders a sublime trip surreal. But what should you drive? Here are five convertibles we love for road-tripping.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
For the budget conscious, there may not be a better option on the market than the Mazda Miata.
On the market since 1990, and popular from the beginning with the masses, the Miata underwent a major redesign for 2006 that has kept it relevant.
In addition to being affordable, the car is simply fun to drive. The engine won’t blow the competition off the road, as the 2014 model generates a reasonable, but not gaudy, 167 horsepower. But with a six-speed manual transmission and its reputation for hugging curves, you’ll be smiling all the way to the game.
There isn’t a lot of space—so pack light. But hey, it’s Florida and Arizona during Spring Training. Shorts, sandals and light t-shirts should be standard issue.
Mini Cooper S Convertible
Another budget-conscious choice with a toney British look is the Mini Cooper S Convertible. When purchasing a used model, have a careful look at the options list, as there are a number available to new car buyers that will affect your cost and the car’s look.
The best part of this little four-seater might be the ease with which the roof drops. Simply touch a button on your key fob. That’s it. Nothing to unlatch. With a 181 horsepower engine and a six-speed manual transmission, the 2014 Mini Cooper S Convertible delivers a nice punch on the road.
There are some complaints that the Mini Convertible rides firmly, especially on bumpy roads, but distinctive styling and a decent price make for a winning car.
As for the ride—hey, it’s Florida and Arizona. So the roads should be flat and smooth.
Volkswagen Beetle TDI Convertible
Looking for a funkier, retro style? Try this little beauty.
While drop-tops are often associated with speed and performance, this bubble car throwback offers a somewhat more relaxed, comfortable ride. The VW Beetle Convertible is also a great if you want to bring a friend along with you. The backseat isn’t overly cramped, but you’ll need to stop regularly to let the folks back there stretch.
The real thrill here may be the gas mileage. A turbodiesel engine is unheard of in a convertible, and the 2013 Beetle TDI Convertible delivers up to 28/41 mpg city/highway. You can get the car with a gas engine if you want a bit more pop. The diesel Beetle delivers 140 horsepower, while the gas counterpart offers 170. There’s also a turbocharged version that revs up with 200 horsepower.
Lexus IS 350 C
If arriving in style matters, the Lexus IS 350 C may be a good fit for you.
This car has a lot of bling, with features that include heated mirrors with built-in turn signals and puddle lamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an eight-speaker sound system and satellite radio. Do we really need to go on?
Well, there are upgrades that deliver fancier headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and a whole lot more.
Like the Beetle above, this car is built for comfort as opposed to performance. It carries a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 306 horsepower, making the IS 350 C sufficiently peppy for a bigger, heavier convertible.
There is one downside is when the hard-top is put away: Trunk space all but disappears. And the rear seats aren’t meant for additional passengers. They’re better used to store luggage for your trip. Still, if you’re an empty-nester, the Lexus IS 350 C is a great ride.
For those who can afford to dream large, why not take that sunny baseball road trip in the Mercedes SL-Class convertible?
What’s not to love? This car is the standard-bearer for luxury performance.
From its sleek, low-to-the-ground design, to the fully collapsible roof and all the safety, entertainment, and technology frills you can imagine, this car does it all.
So if your Spring Training trip is a dream-come-true journey, why not take it in a dream-come-true car. After all, you only go around once, so you might as well do it in style.