Mazda, Mercedes, Range Rover offering new convertibles for top-down summer fun

Southern California offers plenty of sunshine, world-famous beaches, and great weather. A perfect place to own a convertible!

And there are lots of new choices to let the sun and breeze accompany you when you drive.

Nothing says "fun in the sun" quite like a Mercedes-Benz that can drop its top.

Following a long line of Mercedes convertibles is the newest one this year, the C300 Cabriolet. Besides great looks, it offers a tidy size, room for four, and even decent fuel economy from its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.

Lower the top, and you can feel like a movie star, even if you never wanted to be one.

The C300 Cabriolet has a base price of just over $50,000.
For pure driving fun, the Mazda Miata is hard to beat if you only need two seats, and it has been for over 25 years.

The latest version of Mazda's cute sports car is called the MX-5 RF. It's a hardtop, but with the touch of a button it stows the roof's center section and becomes a targa roof.

It's really stylish, and no less fun to drive than the regular soft-top Miata, for a base price of under $32,000.

Also new in the convertible segment is something quite different: a convertible SUV.

Range Rover figures that some people might like some SUV attributes, like a higher seating position, but with an open-top experience.

The Range Rover Evoque convertible does lose most of the SUV practicality of the regular Evoque (the trunk is pretty small), but as convertibles go, it's quite roomy and useful for a base price of $52,000.

While the open-air experience of driving a convertible hasn't changed much over the years, the driving comfort when the roof is closed on most has grown by leaps and bounds.

Better insulation and roof sealing means that for the most part, you wouldn't even know you're in a convertible when the top is up.

But if you still want to put the top down when it's chilly, heated seats on all these new convertibles can keep you toasty in many situations.

Mercedes-Benz not only heats up the seats, but the standard air scarf built into the front headrests will blow warm air on your neck. (Think of it like a tiny space heater, activated by a switch on the door panel.)

And an optional power-operated breeze-blocking system called AIRCAP will help too.

Though let's face it, when it's really hot out, and the sun's beating down, driving with the roof open usually isn't too fun.

Thankfully, these modern convertibles all have air conditioning, which works just great with their tops in the up position.
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