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Reid All About It: Luxury Roadsters for Summer

By Andy Reid | June 23, 2020

From spring to fall, a roadster is the perfect car to take for a relaxing drive or visit your favorite weekend getaway. Pick a route with some nice twisty roads, and you're sure to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. There's just nothing like rolling along with the wind in your hair.

Classic roadsters were developed in pre-war Great Britain, and featured two seats and little else. This style of roadster continued into the early '80s, but everything available during that period was basically a rehash of '60s designs. Today, the Mazda MX-5 and Fiat 124 carry on this tradition, because while offering more options than say, a classic MGB or Triumph, they're still delightfully basic machines.

For those wanting a cushier take on the roadster experience, there are a number of luxury roadsters available, and all offer a tremendous amount of sports car for the money. One thing to note? All but one of my picks hail from Germany, not England, the country which can actually lay claim to inventing the roadster.

This list includes two full-size roadsters, and two smaller, more sports-orientated models. So if you've always wanted a luxury roadster, I'm betting one of these cars will fit the bill.

Jaguar F-Type

The Jaguar F-Type is an amazing luxury roadster

When it was introduced in 2013, the F-Type roadster was immediately hailed as a masterpiece. One of designer Ian Callum’s finest efforts, F-Type fortunately backs up its exterior style with serious performance.

Available with either a V6 or V8 engine, the F-Type, even with the lowest output V6 engine the F-Type still has 335 horsepower, which gives it a zero-to-60 time of 4.9 seconds and a 160 mph top speed. With acres of the finest British leather covering every surface, the interior is a great place to be, but the marque’s sporting heritage is evident in the exceptionally stiff chassis.

If you’re looking for a British roadster with stunning looks and performance, you’ll fall in love with the Jaguar F-Type.

Shop Jaguar F-Type Inventory

Mercedes-Benz SL

The Mercedes-Benz SL is an amazing luxury roadster

With the classic 300SL, Mercedes-Benz essentially invented the luxury roadster category, and today’s SL very much lives up to its iconic sibling’s heritage. The current version is basically a revision of the R230 chassis cars available from 2001 to 2011, and it’s a perfect illustration of how evolution is often superior to revolution.

The first Mercedes press launch I ever attended was in 2003, where I drove the SL55 AMG. So how good was the car? Well, I bought a used one, and it served as my Monterey Car Week car for years. The SL55 is an absolutely epic road car, with supercar performance and the finest luxury options available. Depending on what mood you’re in, it can ride hard or soft, and you don’t necessarily need to spring for an AMG model either. All the R230 and 231 cars are shining examples of Mercedes-Benz’s “The Best or Nothing” slogan.

Performance varies depending on the model, with the standard SL500 capable of zero-to-60 times in a respectable 6.1 seconds, with the SL55 AMG covering it in 4.5 seconds, and the later SL63 capable of a 3.7-second time. So just pick the SL that meets your needs, and enjoy it. That said, I’d recommend getting an extended warranty for the SL, not because they are unreliable, but if something happens to break, it’ll be expensive.

Shop Mercedes-Benz SL Inventory


The BMW Z4 is an amazing luxury roadster

For those of you wanting the trappings of a luxury roadster in a smaller, more sporting package, look no further than the BMW Z4. When the Z4 was introduced in 2003, it was panned for its styling, but hailed for its great chassis dynamics and strong engine packages.

Over the years, there have been a number of styling revisions, but the Z4 has aged quite well. With an available manual gearbox and even an M version, the Z4 is a true sports car, and like the other cars on this list, come very well equipped, though performance varies.

The 2.5-liter cars make the zero-to-60 sprint in 6.5, the 3-liter versions do it in 5.8 seconds, and unsurprisingly, Z4 M is the quickest, and capable of a 4.8-second time. Simply put, none of these cars feel slow, so just pick the version you like best, as every flavor Z4 is a great bargain.

Shop BMW Z4 Inventory

Mercedes-Benz SLK

The Mercedes-Benz SLK is an amazing luxury roadster

When the first SLK launched in 1996, I thought it was a bit of a miss, as it was a good car with bland styling. Fortunately, Mercedes corrected this in 2005, with the R170 SLK.

This car has a retro-modern feel, and offers all that you look for in an SL in a smaller package. The next version was the R172, launched in 2011, followed by the current model. Each version is great, but I think the R170 looks more like its own car, while the later models look more like a smaller SL. All offer strong performance, with the slowest going from rest to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, and the fastest — the SLK55 AMG — capable of a very quick 4.5-second time.

While none of these cars are available as a manual, but in the SLK it’s not really missed. With typical Mercedes build quality and cool options like the Air Scarf next heater, the SLK is a great roadster for every occasion.

Shop Mercedes-Benz SLK Inventory

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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.