I’m looking for a luxury convertible, but I really don’t want a car that looks like I’m having a midlife crisis (which I totally am). That said, if I had $170,000 to burn, I’d buy a Mercedes S560 Cabriolet. But I have about $40,000, tops. So what can I get that’s classy, reliable, has four seats and will endow me with a touch of class? — Calvin, Vancouver
Going topless in a luxury convertible doesn’t mean you have to lose your shirt.
For reliable rooflessness in a (relatively) affordable used car, Consumer Reports recommends the 2013-16 Mercedes E-Class, 2015-17 BMW 2 Series and 2009 Infiniti G.
To keep it under $40,000, you’ll likely have to go back to 2013 for the Mercedes E350 and Infiniti G37 (average asking price of $29,844, according to Canadian Black Book) — and 2015 the BMW 228i xDrive.
Here, we’ll stick to ze Germans. The BMW is a little sportier. The Benz is a little swankier.
2015 BMW 228i xDrive
- First generation: 2015-present
- Average asking price for used: $34,425 (Canadian Black Book)
- Original MSRP for base: $45,200
- Engine: 241-hp, 2-litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder
- Transmission/drive: Eight-speed automatic/All-wheel
- Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 10.6 city, 7.2 highway; premium gas
For BMW’s starter convertible, the second time was the charm.
“One look at it and you'll see it's a giant leap forward from the 1 Series,” Globe Drive said.
“You buy a car like this in the hope you will use it on sunny days, in warm weather, to take yourself away.”
The 2 series soft top was beefier all around — meaning some usable trunk space (for a convertible) and a rear seat that was bigger but still “recommended for gymnasts only,” we said. If you really wanted to feel the wind through your hair, there was the rear-wheel drive M235i ($39,925 used) with a 320-hp, 3-litre inline six-cylinder.
Consumer Reports said the 2 Series “packs a lot of performance within understated looks, doesn’t beat you up with a harsh ride and noisy cabin,” and had a “smooth, punchy, yet fuel-efficient powertrain.”
The bad? That snug rear seat, “typical frustrations” with BMWs iDrive infotainment system and a “virtually unavoidable” list of pricey options and packages (like a $3,695 Premium Package Enhanced with navigation, park distance control and rear-view camera) that could add thousands to the base sticker price.
Consumer Reports gave the 2015 2 Series four out of five for reliability.
There was one recall for cars that might have exposed to “excessive water or salt” while stranded at the Halifax port of entry during the 2015 ice storm.
2013 Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet
- Fourth generation: 2010-2017 (facelift for 2014)
- Average asking price for used: $36,328 (Canadian Black Book)
- Original MSRP for base: $69,200
- Engine: 302-hp, 3.5-litre twin-turbo V-6
- Transmission/drive: Seven-speed automatic/Rear-wheel
- Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 12.2 city, 8.5 highway; premium gas
For Mercedes-Benz’s mid-range convertible, E was for excellent and eye-catching. But not exorbitant, comparatively speaking.
“Not as pricey or exclusive as the S-Class, it was a cut above the C-Class stable,” Globe Drive said. “From its "arrowhead" front end to a back deck evocative of some of Mercedes' models of the 1950s, this one was – and still is – a knockout.”
The E-Class wasn’t as flashy or as sporty as some rivals. Instead, it was quietly classy – and quiet, period.
“The Cabriolet is also one of the most serene convertibles around thanks to the AirCap system, which minimizes air turbulence to a trickle even at high speed,” review site Edmunds said. “It's a benchmark for refined ride quality, confident handling, meticulous craftsmanship, clever innovation and sophisticated comfort.”
Consumer Reports liked the balanced ride and handling, comfortable seats, Mercedes fit and finish and relatively simple controls.
But, it still wasn’t cheap – and, as with with BMW, options and packages could quickly add up.
Consumer Reports gave the 2013 E-Class five out of five for reliability.
There were two recalls, including a driver’s side airbag that could, potentially, accidentally go off during normal driving.
Send your used car questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: “Buying used.”