Best used hardtop convertibles

Seduced by the idea of dropping the roof in summer, but don't want to be shivering in winter? Try a sub-£30,000 folding hardtop convertible

Simon Ostler James Mills
Dec 13, 2019

Have you given in to your sun-seeking sub-conscious? Do you long to have a roof to drop to make the most of every ray of sunshine? Then why not try a folding hardtop convertible for size. This give you the security and refinement of a metal roof, with all the wind-in-the-hair thrill of a traditional cabriolet. Keep reading to find out which of the many slick and stylish drop-tops best suits you.

We've done all the hard work for you, narrowing down five of the very best hard-top convertibles available to buy right now, with some great PCP finance deals available. Even around £200 per month or well under £15,000 is enough to put a metal-roofed cabriolet on the drive. 

All of these models feature electric roofs that drop at the touch of a button for that extra touch of luxury, not to mention convenience if you're caught in a rain storm or simply want to feel the sun on your skin the second it appears from behind the clouds.

Aside from the enormous fun you can have tearing around with the roof down, convertible motoring has never been so comfortable. Driving with the roof up will turn these cars into perfectly capable coupes that feel and drive like the roof is a permanent fixture, with low noise levels and the ability to chalk up hundreds of miles without fuss.

Read on for our pick of the five best hardtop convertibles.

Best hardtop convertibles

1. BMW 4 Series Convertible

Latest BMW 4 Series Covertible deals from £16,000
Monthly finance from £205

Two-seat sports cars offer as much choice as a pop-up street food stall - you either take it or leave it. Meanwhile, the BMW 4 Series Convertible is one of the few cars with a folding hardtop roof that lets drivers mix and match to create their perfect recipe.

For starters, it features four seats. Proper seats, at that, so nobody will suffer leg cramps should you choose to invite them along for the ride. And there’s a decent-size boot (370 litres) that will hold more than a pair of his 'n her washbags.

Then there’s the engine range. If you prefer an efficient diesel engine, you can have it. Or if a potent, turbocharged six-cylinder petrol is your idea of the perfect way to make the most of the open road, these are available, too.

Our pick, however, is the 420i petrol - a smooth and efficient petrol that makes for a great all-round performer. The electric roof adds a bit of weight to the 4 Series - so it's no super-agile sports car - but nevertheless it remains the best four-seat drop-top to drive.

BMW 4 Series buyers' guide

 

2. Mazda MX-5 RF

Latest Mazda MX-5 RF deals from £13,490
Monthly finance from £199

Had a bad day? The Mazda MX-5 RF can fix all that. This petite two-seat roadster can cheer anyone up in a matter of minutes. Its secret is that it is small and agile. So if you're turned off by the prospect of the weighty BMW above, the MX-5 RF lets you have your hard-topped cake and eat it. That's because - despite the metal roof - it remains light in weight. This in turn gives the driver a sense of connection with the road that they won’t get from any other, usable sports car – even a six-figure supercar.

The folding hardtop roof tucks away elegantly beneath the racy-looking rear deck, and the stiffer structure compared with the fabric-roofed MX-5 makes it slightly more precise and responsive around corners.

The only question on used car buyers’ minds is which version to go for? There are now three petrol engines in the range - a 1.5-litre and two versions of the larger 2.0-litre unit - and they’re all great. So don’t worry too much, because whichever you choose, you’ll have a ball.

Mazda MX-5 RF buyers' guide

3. BMW Z4

Latest BMW Z4 deals from £16,798
Monthly finance from £216

A new BMW Z4 has just hit the market - and it’s sorely missing one key ingredient - a folding hardtop. Luckily, the previous generation car (pictured above), did have one.

This model of Z4 is one of the most well-rounded roadsters out there. Long trips are never a chore, as the noise levels are pretty low. It still looks good too, with a hint of some of BMW’s classic roadster design about it.

If you can afford it, stretch to the 30i or 35iS models. They have a six-cylinder petrol engine that sounds almost as joyous as the birdsong you’ll enjoy as you meander along a leafy country lane. With plenty of power or tap they should satisfy more enthusiastic drivers, too.

4. Mercedes SLC

Latest Mercedes-Benz SLC deals from £16,500
Monthly finance from £202

A Mercedes roadster is the perfect complement to a Hermès scarf, Prada sunglasses and Gucci handbag. Yet if you thought this would put it out of reach, think again. The SLC makes for a surprisingly affordable used car.

There are high-powered AMG models that you could indulge yourself with, but for our money the rather more humble SLC 200 is all drivers of this sort of roadster will ever need. It’s an eager, turbocharged petrol engine that has plenty of overtaking power but won’t guzzle fuel like it’s going out of fashion.

Mercedes SLC buyers' guide

5. Mercedes SL

Latest Mercedes-Benz SL deals from £28,000
Monthly finance from £359

Just as John Lewis has its flagship store on Oxford Street, so Mercedes has the SL. This is the pinnacle of engineering, style and sophistication, a car that is for those who appreciate the finer things in life and have no need to rush about the place driving as if their trousers are on fire.

Rest assured, Mercedes’ engineers have thought of everything with this car. The body is made from aluminium, to reduce weight and improve the drive. Its folding hardtop incorporates a glass roof panel, so you can feel like you’re experiencing the great outdoors even when it’s closed - but at the touch of a button the glass turns opaque, blocking out bright sun or prying eyes. Then there are the seat heaters for your neck and a windscreen washer system that won’t spray water into the cockpit when the roof’s open. Clever, huh?

All this does come at a cost, though. You can get an SL for less than £30,000, but you may have to wait a little to find a newer model for less than that price. A tourer rather than a sports car, by far and away the best version is the SL400. It has a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine that makes it nearly as quick as all the bigger-engined versions, but more frugal. 

               

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