Despite the calendar, it seems that winter doldrums have set in with big storms in the East and Midwest making spring seem much farther off than it really is. So maybe it’s good to dream a bit of open-air motoring. There are a few incentives out there to nudge you towards that convertible you’ve always wanted and perhaps now is not a bad time to begin shopping.

When it comes to affordable convertibles, the first stop has to be the 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata. This little 2-seater captures the imagination without taking a huge bite out of your wallet. Shoppers will find better deals on the soft-top versions. The RF (for Retractable Fastback), a targa-like model in its second year, is pricier and doesn’t have much in the way of incentives other than 5.9-percent financing. Miata roadsters, however, carry a lower sticker and are eligible for a $1,000 spiff.

A better bet is its Italian twin also built by Mazda, the Fiat 124. Slightly longer with a slightly more powerful Fiat-built 1.4-liter turbo engine in it, the 124 is both rarer on the street and in greater supply at dealers. You’ll find up to $2,500 in cash back in some areas on the Fiat.

If you’re looking for something in a domestic, Ford currently has $1,500 on Mustang convertibles, whether you opt for the EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder or the GT with its 5.0-liter V8. Chevrolet has select market local cash of $1,000 on its 2018 Camaro Convertible or up to $1,500 on 2017 models. There’s also a lease deal on 2018 models of $329 per month for 39 months with $2,879 due at signing. If you’re a returning GM lessee, you can take an additional $500 off that upfront payment.

On the Corvette, Chevrolet is offering a $2,500 cash allowance for owners/lessees who have qualified non-GM products. The offer is being made on both 2017 and 2018 models of the two-seat sports car.

Kia Stinger special edition

The 2018 Kia Stinger has been out barely six months and the Korean auto maker has cranked up a special edition to spark additional interest in this handsome hatchback sports sedan. The limited-edition model, of which only 500 will be built, is called the Stinger GT Atlantica. Kia said the model celebrates “the cross-Atlantic collaboration between the U.S. and the vehicle’s Germany-based development roots.” Painted a special blue color, the Atlantica also comes with unique 19-inch wheels used on European models, an exclusive Espresso Brown Nappa leather interior, black suede-type headliner, a surround view monitor, wireless phone charger and heated outboard rear seats. Also, there’s the requisite limited-edition model badging inside and out.

“We recognize Stinger is something special and wanted to commemorate the 2019 model year with a stand-out variant,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning at Kia Motors.  “Out of the box, the Stinger is a tried-and-true sport sedan with much of its development taking place on Germany’s grueling Nürburgring race circuit.  The Atlantica edition introduces more European flair while distinguishing itself with exclusive badging and features not previously offered by Kia in the U.S. market.” The 2019 Kia Stinger GT Atlantica is slated to go on sale later this summer with pricing announced closer to the vehicle’s launch.

Going to a dealership? Bring the kids

Seriously. An enterprising dealer in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, has set up a customer waiting area with children in mind. Motorcars Honda in the Cleveland suburb opened a dealership-themed children’s waiting area when it remodeled its service department, according to Automotive News.

The new space, which is a walled off portion that had been a couple of service bays, has such distractions as a Lego racetrack, a design studio where children can draw cars on iPads, a 500-gallon aquarium, video game racing and driving simulators, the Cars movie on a continuous loop, and a selfie zone for taking pictures. The dealership’s general manager, Trevor Gile, said he consulted with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on what types of displays would engage children. He also used input from his two children aged 5 and 7.

“Separating the kids and parents from those customers that don’t have kids creates a better atmosphere,” Gile told the trade paper. “It’s been a huge thing for us. We want parents coming in with kids to feel comfortable.”

It not all about altruism. Gile said his research about children and dealerships was eye-opening. “I read an article that said kids influence 49-pecent of parents’ buying decisions. And that really resonated with me,” he said. “It said to me that an 8-year-old child was a better closer than anyone in our dealership.”

Diesel renaissance?

Diesel power, all but given up for dead in the wake of the Volkswagen diesel emission cheating scandal, could be on the comeback trail even as European cities look to ban the vehicles from city centers. That assessment comes from the most unlikely source, Matthias Mueller, chairman of, you guessed it, Volkswagen. Speaking to reporters at the Geneva Motor Show, Mueller said “Diesel will see a renaissance in the not-too-distant future because people who drove diesels will realize that it was a very comfortable drive concept. Once the knowledge that diesels are eco-friendly firms up in people’s minds, then for me there’s no reason not to buy one.”

Even as he said this, Toyota said it would be discontinuing the use of diesels in Europe.  However, the slow ramp-up in mass market electric vehicles also means that auto makers will need to find more fuel-efficient options to meet stricter European carbon dioxide standards. Another VW exec, Herbert Diess said “We need diesel to get to the CO2 goals.” Citing the long range that diesels offer on a tank of fuel, he added, “Electric vehicles in many cases won’t keep frequent drivers happy.”

Other companies, like Ford, see a limited future for diesels, primarily on bigger vehicles while disappearing on small cars and crossovers. Carlos Tavares, who heads the French PSA Group, told Bloomberg Television that “At the end of the day, consumers have the final world. We have a very clear strategy in terms of multi-energy platforms, which means we can assemble on the same assembly line petrol cars, diesel cars, electric-powered cars.”

While VW has virtually pulled all its diesel offerings from the U.S. market, the technology is far from dead in passenger vehicles. All three Detroit manufacturers will have diesel power in their half-ton pickup trucks while Chevrolet also offers diesels in its Cruze hatchback and Equinox crossover. Jaguar has diesels in both its car and SUV lineups and Mazda will soon have a CX-5 diesel on the market.

 The rundown 

What’s more exclusive than a 2-door luxury coupe? How about a $300,000 luxury 2-door SUV, which is what Land Rover presented in the form of the 2019 Range Rover SV Coupe at Geneva.

Speaking of the Geneva Motor Show, catch up on all the latest news, production cars and concept vehicles presented at this premiere European auto show. Full coverage is here.

While we are on this European kick, we had a chance to drive the 2019 Maserati Quattroporte in the Italian Alps. Check out this First Review.

In the market for a new car? Explore these useful tips on how to get the best deal: 

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