Get rid of that formal business sedan on weekends and jump into something fun. Three top choices in three price ranges: BMW's Mini Cooper (below), Volkswagen's Cabrio GLX and the Lexus SC 430. Maneuvering in downtown traffic in these three head-turning, easy-to-park machines is a snap, and taking them on the open road clears away those workday cobwebs.
The $18,000 Mini, arriving from the United Kingdom in March, is the 2002 version of the cute little car that stole everyone's heart back in the 1960s. Retaining its cheerful spirit and mission of fitting four people as comfortably in a compact as possible, the new Mini is much more powerful, with 115 horsepower, and has a larger interior. A supercharged version provides 165 horsepower for an extra $3,000.
Weekend warriors who insist on having the wind in their hair can opt for the $22,300 Volkswagen Cabrio GLX. This convertible has a power-operated padded top and a defoggable rear glass window. Coming loaded with ABS brakes, remote locks, side-impact airbags and a CD player, the Cabrio gets 31 mpg.
So you want performance and the breeze tickling your ears? The elegant $59,000 SC 430 (above, left) fits the bill. This brand-new, stunningly styled luxury coupe is Lexus' first convertible and has all the features its price tag warrants, including a retractable hardtop. What's kicky about it? The 300-horsepower V8 engine you'll find under the hood.
Got the Brights On?
Need a lift? Buy a yellow car. Ford says optimistic lemon, buttercup and saffron are the hottest new vehicle colors this year. For more conservative buyers, rich shades of navy or cool silvery blue are the next best thing. In three to four years, we'll be going even bolder: Ford predicts orange will be the hot car color.
Editor and consultant Jill Amadio has been reporting on the automotive industry for 24 years.