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Drop-Top Versions of Infiniti G37, Lexus IS 250, and Audi A5 are Among Consumer Reports' Highest Ranked Convertibles

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SEE ALSO: Convertible Specs, Prices and Comparisons

Two small convertibles and three sporty cars also tested

YONKERS, N.Y., April 6, 2010; The Infiniti G37, Lexus IS 250, and Audi A5 convertibles all posted "Very Good" overall scores topping Consumer Reports tests' of three four-seat convertibles for the May 2010 issue.

Two less expensive small convertibles, the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Mini Cooper S, were also tested along with three sporty cars--the Volkswagen GTI, Mazdaspeed3, and Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart.

The G37 and IS 250 earned "Very Good" overall road-test scores of 77, slightly outdistancing the Audi A5 convertible, which earned a test score of 74. All three fall among the better models in the category, which included the previously tested Volkswagen Eos (78) and BMW 328i (76) . The G37 is a hard-top convertible based on the sporty G37 sedan, consistently a top-performer in CR's tests. The IS 250 is pleasant and refined but it's not as sporty. The A5 is stylish and luxurious and its soft top can be operated on the move.

"The G37 has many of the qualities CR's testers like in the sedan configuration. The IS 250 should satisfy those looking for a refined and easygoing convertible, making both of them good choices," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut.

CR also tested two smaller, less expensive, sportier convertibles, each with a manual transmission-- the Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring, which earned an 89 road-test score, and has an optional retractable hard-top, and the Mini Cooper S, which earned a 77 road-test score.

Only the Miata is Recommended among the five convertibles in this test group. CR only Recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's Annual Auto Survey of its more than seven million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test. CR doesn't have sufficient reliability data on the IS 250, A5, G37, and Cooper S.

Prices ranged from $44,400 for the IS 250 to $49,300 for the Audi A5 among the sedan-based convertibles. The Miata and Mini Cooper cost $31,150 and $32, 850 respectively.

CR also tested three moderately-priced sports cars--souped-up versions of small cars that look ordinary but deliver true sports-car capability. That group is led by the Volkswagen GTI, which earned an "Excellent" 85 road-test score, the updated Mazdaspeed3, which earned an "Excellent" score of 83. The Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart trailed with a "Very Good" 72.

Prices for the sports cars as tested ranged from $23,945 for the Mazdaspeed3 to $28,344 for the Ralliart. The GTI and the Mazdaspeed3 are Recommended because of their average reliability. CR does not have sufficient reliability data for the Ralliart.

Full tests and ratings for all eight cars appear in the May issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale April 6. The reports are also available to subscribers of Updated daily, is the go-to site for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information.

The G37 convertible's ride is stiffer and less comfortable than the sedan. The highway ride is firm, but there's too much noise, mostly from wind and the tires. Body shake is evident when the hard top is down. The Infiniti G37 convertible ($48,715 Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price as tested), is powered by a 325-hp, 3.7-liter V6 engine that gives strong performance and gets 20 mpg overall on premium fuel in CR's own fuel economy tests. The seven-speed automatic transmission shifts seamlessly and is very responsive. Braking is very good. The interior is made of high-quality materials.

The IS 250 has a plush interior, simple controls, and a smooth powertrain. But the handling is uninspiring, and the rear seat is cramped. On all but the smoothest pavement, the ride feels unsettled, and that nervousness persists on the highway. The Lexus IS 250 convertible ($44,400 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 204-hp, 2.5-liter V6 engine that performs well and gets 23 mpg overall on premium fuel. The six-speed automatic transmission is smooth and responsive. Braking is excellent. The interior is furnished with high-quality materials.

The A5 convertible has impressive ride and handling balance, exterior styling, and a well crafted interior, and optional all-wheel drive adds to its appeal. The ride is firm but supple. Agile handling and quick steering make it fun to drive. The A5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Premium Plus ($49,300 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 211-hp 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine that provides good performance and got 22 mpg overall on premium fuel. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts seamlessly. Braking is very good. The interior is luxurious.

The MX-5 is fun to drive, with pinpoint handling, instant power delivery, and a crisp manual gearbox. There's good isolation from bumps from the suspension, but there's plenty of road hiss, wind rush, and engine drone. The MX-5 Miata Grand Touring PRHT ($31,150 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 167-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that provides 28 mpg overall on premium fuel. The six-speed manual transmission is fun and easy to shift. Braking is excellent. Interior plastics are well finished and feel solid.

The Mini Cooper convertible is very agile and fun to drive. Punchy acceleration adds to its character. The ride is stiff and choppy, but it's better on the highway. The Mini Cooper S ($32,850 MSRP as tested is powered by a turbocharged 172-hp, 1.6 liter four-cylinder engine that delivers lively performance and 30 mpg overall with premium fuel. The six-speed manual transmission provides short, quick shifts. Braking is excellent. Most panels are well finished, and the leather seats are detailed.

The Mazdaspeed3 is quick and capable, but it's taxing to drive every day. A slick shifter, hatchback versatility and a nice ride are pluses, but torque steer, harsh ride and a noisy cabin are demerits.

The highway ride is jittery and road noise is incessant. Handling is very agile. The Mazdaspeed3 Sport ($23,945 MSRP as tested,) is powered by a turbocharged 263-hp, 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers strong performance and 26 mpg overall on premium fuel. The six-speed manual transmission has short, accurate shifts and a sporty feel. Braking is excellent.

Mitsubishi's Lancer Ralliart is quick and agile, but falls short against competitors largely due to its automated manual transmission that makes the car jerky at times. Ride motions are abrupt, and the ride is stiff. On the highway the ride is choppy and there is a lot of road, exhaust, and engine noise. The Lancer Ralliart ($28,344 MSRP as tested), is powered by a turbocharged 237-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers strong acceleration and 20 mpg overall on premium fuel. Braking is good. The Ralliart has a more spiffed-up interior than the base Lancer.

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MAY 2010

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