2001 Convertibles:  Drop-Top Fun free review A Convertible for Every Budget 1996 sebring upholstery windblocker smart cars gear selection chrysler convertible sebring windblocker dynamic rollover jaguar convertible jaguar mazda bending stiffness mercedes clk430 xkr speed 2001 bmw z3 xk topaz z3 chrome hoops mercedes benz clk xk8 The wind tossed my long blonde hair about my shoulders as if it were a kite trying to stay aloft in a gentle breeze. The scent of barbecue ribs wafted down at me as I motored down the main street in my hometown. The radio played the acoustic version of a classic rock tune that reminded me of the last time I'd seen that band in an outdoor amphitheater. This was my favorite summertime driving---in a convertible. There is nothing better than the sights, sounds and smells of summer wrapping around you like a warm blanket as you watch the sunset. These days just about anyone can enjoy it, regardless of your budget or taste.     BMW Z3  The BMW Z3 roadster has sports free review   
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2001 Convertibles: Drop-Top Fun

A Convertible for Every Budget

Updated Mar 17, 2005 19:41:50
Rating  reduce  16 ( -2 -12.5% )
AuthorTara Baukus Mello
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Description:
The wind tossed my long blonde hair about my shoulders as if it were a kite trying to stay aloft in a gentle breeze. The scent of barbecue ribs wafted down at me as I motored down the main street in my hometown. The radio played the acoustic version of a classic rock tune that reminded me of the last time I'd seen that band in an outdoor amphitheater. This was my favorite summertime driving---in a convertible. There is nothing better than the sights, sounds and smells of summer wrapping around you like a warm blanket as you watch the sunset. These days just about anyone can enjoy it, regardless of your budget or taste. BMW Z3
The BMW Z3 roadster has sports car written over it. More than a convertible, this little two-seater makes for great fun zipping around town and on the highway and is even more powerful for 2001. Initially introduced in 1996 with a four-cylinder engine, all Z3s now feature six-cylinder models, which have been boosted yet again for 2001 to either 184 or 225 horsepower. Also new for 2001 is a sportier automatic transmission---a five-speed Steptronic version that can be shifted manually, instead of the standard four-speed automatic transmission in its predecessor. We tested a 2001 BMW Z3 2.5i with the 184 horsepower V-6 and five-speed Steptronic and quickly learned that less horsepower and an automatic transmission doesn't mean any less fun. The Spartanburg, South Carolina-built cars offer a limited-slip differential for improved handling, while Dynamic Stability Control is now standard in all models. All Z3s feature two-stage front-impact Smart airbags as well as standard side-impact airbags and rollover protection hoops located behind each seat. The 2001 BMW Z3 roadster starts at $31,870. Our test model, a 2.5i with the optional Topaz Blue metallic paint, five-speed Steptronic auto-manual transmission, chrome interior accents, power top, leather upholstery, wood trim and Harman-Kardon audio system was priced at $36,245, including destination. Chrysler Sebring
Designed as a convertible from the start (versus as a coupe conversion), the Chrysler Sebring Convertible has been one of the top-selling convertibles in the U.S. since its introduction in 1996. Its styling, which bears close resemblance to its coupe counterpart, places it in of the top ratings in interior space, including 90.3 cubic feet of passenger space and 11.3 cubic feet of cargo space. For 2001, the Chrysler Sebring has been made 44 percent torsionally stiffer with a revised steering and suspension, resulting in better handling and a more secure, solid feeling when driving. New for 2001, the Sebring now has a single button that allows all four windows and the top to be put down at once, making it easy to complete the process while stopped at a traffic light. The 2001 Chrysler Sebring Convertible, which starts at, $24,995, features a 200 horsepower, 2.7-liter V6 engine, which is more powerful than its predecessor, but also more fuel efficient. The 32 horsepower increase, combined with the improvements in stiffness, make the Sebring fun to drive. An optional AutoStick feature on the transmission gives the ability to drive the vehicle as a manual for an enhanced driving experience. Our test Chrysler Sebring Convertible LXi, priced at $28,880, came with leather upholstery, a six-way power driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, speed sensitive wipers and power convertible roof, along with the optional 17-inch chromed aluminum wheels, anti-lock brakes and cold weather package.
Jaguar XK
If I were forced to pick a single word to describe the Jaguar XK convertible, I would choose “exquisite.” From exterior and interior appointments to performance and handling characteristics, everything about this vehicle emanates beauty and grace in a powerful, yet elegant way. Representing the top budget in our list of vehicles, the XK lineup comes in three versions, the XK8, XKR and XKR Silverstone edition with prices starting at $74,155 for the base model XK8 convertible. First introduced in 1997, the 2001 XK8 received only mild styling changes from its original design, including new jewel-effect taillights with chrome trim, chrome enhancements to the trunk lid and subtle revisions to the front bumper. Inside, all XK models feature premium Connolly leather and fine wood trim. The convertible top on all versions is a one-button, auto latching mechanism which can be used as long as the car is traveling at speeds 10 mph or under. The Jaguar XK8 has a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter V8 engine that produces 290 horsepower, while the XKR offers a 370 horsepower supercharged 4.0-liter V8. We tested the XKR Silverstone, one of 250 Platinum silver special edition vehicles with the supercharged V8 and a host of other special features priced at $96,905, and found it was a dream to drive both as an around-town cruiser and as a sports car capable of screaming down mountain roads. Standard features on all XK models include automatic headlamps, full-speed traction control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, four-wheel ventilated disc brakes with antilock, a 320-watt Alpine sound system with six-disc CD changer and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, heated front seats, headlamp washers, adaptive restraint system with dual front and side airbags as well as reversing radar.


Mazda Miata
At the top of popularity in the convertible market is the Mazda Miata, a snazzy little two-seater priced in the low $20s. Even on the streets of Southern California, where luxury and sports cars abound, the Miata received plenty of admiring looks. You might not think that a 142 horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine would provide enough power for spirited drivers, but the diminutive stature of the Miata makes it a terrific choice. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, but both an automatic and six-speed manual are available as options. Mazda has connected the powertrain to the differential in what it calls a Power Plant Frame, which greatly enhances the responsiveness of the vehicle. Off the line, the Miata had plenty of acceleration, but the twists and turns of the Hollywood Hills were where it really shined. The experience included quick response in the corners, while never feeling unsettled, even on slightly rough road thanks to improved bending stiffness and torsional rigidity. For 2001, all Miatas have power steering, air conditioning, fog lights, Windblocker, 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows, mirrors and antenna, and a leather-wrapped NARDI steering wheel as standard equipment. Leather seats are standard on the LS version. The top features a glass rear window with a built-in defroster. Our test model, a Miata with optional anti-lock brakes, power door locks, cruise control and remote keyless entry was priced at $23,065. The 2001 Mazda Miata starts at $21,720. Mercedes-Benz CLK
With a reputation as one of the best built vehicles on the planet, its no surprise that Mercedes-Benz builds one heck of a nice convertible. For around $50,000, you can get one sleek car that gives you loads of drop-top fun, yet, when the top is up, doesn't even feel like a convertible. The four-seater Mercedes-Benz CLK was designed from the start to be structurally sturdy for both coupe and convertible models. The CLK320 is powered by a 215 horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6, while the CLK430 gets its muscle from a 275 horsepower, 4.3-liter V-8. Spacious on the inside, the CLK feels sporty, yet has all the luxury features one would expect from Mercedes-Benz. For 2001, the Mercedes-Benz CLK receives minimal changes, including enhanced Tele Aid functions such as remote unlocking, diagnostics and alarm notification and a feature which drops the side windows slightly when opening the doors in order to provide a better seal when the doors are closed. Indeed, with the top up, the CLK is one of the quietest convertibles around. All Mercedes-Benz CLKs come with Touch Shift manual gear selection for the five-speed automatic transmission, Electronic Stability Program, Brake Assist, BabySmart automatic child seat recognition system as well as standard side airbags. On the inside, the CLK comes with leather upholstery, 10-way power front seats with three-position memory including the outside mirrors, power windows, power heated side-view mirrors, a Bose audio system, and dual climate control. The Mercedes-Benz CLK starts at $49,545. Our CLK430 with the optional COMAND navigation system, rain-sensing intermittent wipers, heated front seats and headlight washers and Xenon high intensity discharge headlights was priced at $61,450. --By Tara Baukus Mello
for Autobytel.com Ó Copyright 2001, Tara Baukus Mello.

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