If you hanker for a BMW 335i or Porsche Boxster Spyder convertible but don’t have the budget, fear not – there are some appealing choices available in these best new convertibles under $30,000. Who says a drop top can’t be affordable? Check this list of top-down beauties and give one or more a spin.

  • Ford MustangThe iconic muscle car is still going strong some four decades after introduction and is refreshed for 2010. The drop-top version in V6 and V6 Premium carries starting manufacturers suggested retail prices (MSRPs) of $26,395 and $29,395, respectively. Add about $4,000 and $6,000 for GT and GT Premium models. Consumer Guide says: “The 2010 Mustang brings welcome new features and much-needed interior improvements while maintaining this storied ponycar’s fun-to-drive persona. Any model is a Best Buy. The V6 offers surprisingly good performance despite being down on power compared to most V6 sporty cars.”
  • Mazda MX-5 Miata TouringMotor Trend comments: “Every convertible should bring a smile to its owner’s face. With the Mazda MX-5 Miata, that smile will be wider and last longer. Now in the second half of its third generation, Mazda’s Miata may have grown a bit larger and more powerful (not to mention safer), but it still begs to be thrown around curves.” MSRPs are not bad, either, ranging from $29,960 (Sport) to $29,500 (Grand Touring with power hard top). Superb sports handling, quality interior fit and finish, history of reliability – all these and more make MX-5 Miata one of Car and Driver’s 2010 10Best Cars, a Consumer Guide Best Bet, and more.
  • Mini Cooper SFor a fun-to-drive convertible that’s easy on the wallet, choose the 2010 Mini Cooper S, whose starting MSRP is $27,850. For that you get a 172-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter 16-valve 4-cylinder alloy engine, sport suspension, 6-speed Getrag transmission or 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters, and EPA-estimated 24 mpg city/32 mpg highway fuel economy. Also a plus is no-cost 3-year/36,000-mile Mini maintenance program. Edmunds remarks: “A marvelous marriage of British character and German know-how, the 2010 Mini Cooper is stylish, fun to drive and remarkably good on gas.”
  • Volkswagen New BeetleFor some consumers, the legendary Beetle comes full circle in the 2010 Volkswagen New Beetle. With starting MSRPs ranging from $26,390 to $27,390, these drop-tops are certainly in the under $30 grand range. And they’re loads of fun. With a 150-hp 2.5-liter 20-valve DOHC inline 5-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic, it’s easy to see why. Motor Trend observes: “Value is a New Beetle strong suit, if you’re looking for this type of convertible driving experience. With $28,000 in your budget, your drop top can be equipped with attractive 17-inch wheels, a 6-disc CD changer, and the three years of free scheduled maintenance that’s included on every Volkswagen.”

Other considerations for best new convertibles under $30 grand include the 2011 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GS and the slightly more expensive (but maybe you can get invoice at or near the price cap) 2010 Volkswagen Eos and Nissan 370Z. If the wallet won’t stretch that far, wait until the 2011 models come out and you’ll probably get a great deal on the 2010 drop top of your choice.

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