Sporty convertible cars

Searching for a fun-to-drive car that can also offer the wind-in-the-hair experience? One of these sporty convertibles could be for you

James Wilson
Jul 30, 2021

Sporty convertible cars are a surefire way to feel good when in the driver’s seat. The best sporty soft-tops look great, they are fun to drive and will attract admiring glances from passers-by (and let’s face it, who doesn’t love an admiring glance). Even so, there is quite a variety of different makes and models to choose from, with options stretching from small but hardcore models like the Abarth 595C to powerful cruisers with massive power and four-wheel drive, like the Audi S5.

There are even different types of folding roofs. Fabric-roofed convertibles are more common but there are those with a metal top - the latter tend to reduce the available boot space quite badly when you fold the roof down. While metal folding roofs are normally painted in the same colour as the rest of a car’s bodywork, fabric roofs can vary in hue. Black is the most common but more standout colours such as burgundy are sometimes available and can make a car look even more sporty.

If you are thinking that a sporty convertible sounds great but you are a bit concerned about running costs then fear not, as there is a solution. A large number of car manufacturers offer sporty-looking cars which use relatively economical engines. BMW has been doing this for years with its M Sport models. Other examples include Audi’s S Line models and brands such as Mini offer so many personalisation options that finding a convertible model with a sporty appearance is relatively easy.

All of the eight sporty convertibles listed below are readily available second-hand - with a number of them still available new - and are available for between £12,000 and £40,000 although the majority are available for well under £20,000. Go for a PCP finance deal, instead, and you can expect to pay around £160 to £500 per month. So keep reading to find the best sporty convertible for you.

Best sporty convertible cars

1. Mini Convertible

Our pick Mini Convertible 1.5 Cooper Sport
Used deals from £11,000
Monthly finance from £215*

Minis are known for their fun driving experience and the Mini Convertible is no exception. There are a range of different versions available that start at the mildly sporty ‘Cooper’ models and go all the way up to performance-focused ‘John Cooper Works’ models. Sitting nicely between the two are 'Cooper S' variants. Not only does performance increase as you move up through the range but so do running costs, so keep that in mind when shopping around. The Cooper S offers a good balance between performance and price.

Spending time inside the Mini’s cabin is very pleasant - the materials feel of good quality and its design is funky without being tacky. We would mention the Mini’s rivals, but it doesn’t really have any direct competition. The Fiat 500C comes close as it is just as stylish and similarly retro, however it is smaller and less upmarket, plus, only part of the roof folds back unlike in the Mini where the entire roof comes down.

MINI CONVERTIBLE BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Mazda MX-5

Our pick Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport Nav
Used deals from £13,500
Monthly finance from £229*

Mazda is an expert at making sporty convertible cars. Evidence supporting this is the fact that its MX-5 convertible is the most popular sports car of all time. There are a number of reasons for this but the most important is its driving experience - which is quite simply excellent. Find a twisty road and the ease with which the MX-5 will weave its way through corners is a delight. You don't have to drive it fast or throw it around corners - the MX-5 simply involves you in the process of driving in a very satisfying way.

Unlike some sporty cars, the Mazda doesn’t come with a hugely powerful engine that consumes fuel faster than a NASA rocket. In fact, the 1.5-litre petrol engine makes a great case for itself compared to the more powerful 2.0-litre petrol, thanks to its better claimed fuel economy and similarly fun feel. While the majority of MX-5’s come with a fabric roof, which the driver has to open and close manually, there are versions with an electronically folding metal roof - these are called ‘RF’.

MAZDA MX-5 BUYERS' GUIDE

MAZDA MX-5 RF BUYERS' GUIDE

3. BMW 2 Series

Our pick BMW 220i M Sport automatic
Used deals from £16,453
Monthly finance from £281*

The BMW 2 Series Convertible is a classy, four-seater cabriolet that comes with a great range of engines and gearboxes. At the top of the performance tree is the M240i, which comes with a 3.0-litre petrol engine and enough power to sprint from 0 to 62mph in 5.0 seconds. As a result, the M240i is faster to 62mph than some hardcore performance models, such as the Honda Civic Type R.

If you would prefer something a little less powerful and cheaper to run, there are other petrol and diesel models which come with smaller engines - such as the 220d and 218i. BMW uses the same naming convention for all its models - the first number refers to the series (in this case the 2 Series), the second two indicate the engine (the bigger the numbers, the more powerful the engine) and the letter on the end indicates the fuel type - ‘d’ for diesel and ‘i’ for petrol.

Other benefits to the 2 Series are the fact it looks classy and its interior is well-built. The rear seats are quite small, though, so this is a sporty convertible that will be more popular with drivers than rear passengers.

BMW 2 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Audi S5

Our pick Audi S5 Convertible
Used deals from £23,950
Monthly finance from £528*

The Audi S5 is one of the more grown-up options on this list. Take the styling; it is relatively restrained but there is just enough visual drama to let people know you are driving something special. The four exhaust pipes sticking out of the rear bumper are one of the biggest giveaways, with the sound of the engine being another clue.

All S5s come with four-wheel drive (which in Audi-speak is called ‘Quattro’) so they have plenty of grip when accelerating. As a result, the S5 will feel more sure-footed when driving on wet roads than two-wheel drive equivalents. The cabin is a standout feature as it feels well built and the design is smart to say the least. One mark against the Audi is that it can be quite expensive, particularly when new.

If the S5 is out of budget for you as a used purchase, there are plenty of A5 S Line convertible models which look nearly as sporty and come with around 190hp, which is still a decent amount - though the muscular S5 comes with a hefty 354hp - and are available in petrol or diesel form.

AUDI A5 BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Abarth 595C

Our pick Abarth 595C
Used deals from £9,750
Monthly finance from £185*

If it is a small sporty convertible you are after then they don’t get much smaller than the Abarth 595C. Abarth has been making performance versions of Fiats (the 595 is based on a Fiat 500) for quite some time now, but over time it has tweaked and improved the recipe. As such, the newer the model you can afford, the better. Regardless of age, all Abarths look the part thanks to sporty front and rear bumpers, racy alloy wheels and a burbly noise from the exhaust pipes.

The ‘C’ in ‘595C’ stands for ‘convertible’ but unlike some on this list, only the central part of the roof folds away. A setup like this means occupants will feel less exposed to the outside world - whether this is a positive or negative for you will be down to personal preference. All 595 models get a 1.4-litre petrol engine, which is turbocharged and certainly packs enough power to rocket the little Abarth down the road.

ABARTH 595 BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Fiat/Abarth 124 Spider

Our pick Abarth 124 Spider

Used Fiat 124 Spider deals from £13,499
Monthly finance from £248*
Used Abarth 124 Spider deals Limited stock

Both Fiat and Abarth offer a 124 Spider (‘spider’ is often used by Italian car brands to refer to convertible models). Fiat’s 124 is a great all-round sports car that would be easy to live with every day. It handles corners well, the 1.4-litre petrol engine is powerful enough for speedy acceleration and its boot is bigger than that of the Mazda MX-5, though the MX-5 is actually the basis upon which Fiat created the 124.

Where does the Abarth 124 Spider come in then? The Abarth version is for those that like to turn things up to 11 - those who want more speed, more noise and better handling on faster twisty roads. All this extra performance does come at a premium, though, so be prepared to pay a bit more and to lose a little refinement to get the extra performance. The interior in both the Fiat and Abarth 124 Spider isn't the most exciting, but it feels well-made and any gripes soon disappear once the engine starts and you can hear its sporty burble.

FIAT 124 SPIDER BUYERS' GUIDE

ABARTH 124 SPIDER BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet

Our pick Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet 1.5 TSI 150 R-Line DSG
Used deals from £26,640
Monthly finance from £401*

Not all sporty convertibles have to be blisteringly fast, some just look the part. This is definitely the case with the T-Roc Cabriolet R-Line (with 'cabriolet' being yet another way of describing a convertible car). Even with the most powerful 150hp engine, 0 to 62mph takes nearly 10 seconds, which isn't particularly quick. The T-Roc looks a lot faster than this, though.

R-Line trim brings sporty styling and relatively large alloy wheels. Plus, there is a reasonable amount of space for passengers in the rear two seats. One of the T-Roc’s best features is the technology it comes with. The central touchscreen media system - which is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - and driver display, a screen that replaces traditional dials used for information such as vehicle speed and fuel level, are particular highlights.

VOLKSWAGEN T-ROC BUYERS' GUIDE

8. BMW 4 Series

Our pick BMW 420i M Sport automatic
Used deals from £18,799
Monthly finance from £326*

The BMW 4 Series Convertible is a rival to the Audi A5/S5 Cabriolet. It comes with appealing styling, a good range of engines and the kind of solid build quality German car brands have become known for. While the BMW is more engaging to drive than the A5, the Audi’s cabin is slightly more plush, so think about those factors to work out which is better for you.

One ace the 4 Series has up its sleeve, is a metal folding roof rather than a fabric one, as used on the Audi A5, which some people prefer as it means the roof is less likely to be vandalised. High-performance M4 models are the fastest 4 Series versions but these are quite expensive.

440i petrol and 435d diesel models are still incredibly fast but more affordable and, in the case of the 435d surprisingly economical (40mpg should be achievable with a mix of driving in and out of town). If you aren’t all that bothered about having a car that is lightning quick but you still want it to look sporty, then 420d diesel and 420i petrol models in M Sport trim are worth considering.

2013-2020 BMW 4 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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