Best convertible cars 2023
Whether you’re after roof-down cruising or wind-in-your-hair thrills, these convertibles could be ideal for you
It may be a surprise, considering the UK isn’t exactly renowned for its warm climes and sunny weather, but British drivers seem to love buying convertible cars. As a result, that means plenty of examples have made their way onto the used car market, so you have lots of options at your disposal when looking for a used drop-top.
While convertibles understandably aren’t the most practical or versatile cars out there, they also aren’t permanently relegated to weekend drives when the sun is shining, either. They generally have the conveniences and creature comforts to be used on longer or more regular drives if need be - especially if you opt for an example of a car that’s still in production. Some even boast impressively good refinement for when you need to drive with the roof up, too.
Best convertible cars
Nowadays, the Mazda MX-5 pretty much has the affordable two-seater convertible market wrapped up to itself, but that wasn’t always the case. As recently as 2019, Abarth threw its hat into the ring with its own sporty derivative of the Fiat 124 Spider drop-top sports car.
Underneath, the 124 Spider shared a lot of parts with the Mazda MX-5, though that shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing considering the Mazda is already a cracking convertible. Abarth also endowed the 124 Spider with a few flourishes of its own, such as a stylish design, a rorty exhaust and a 170hp turbocharged petrol engine with more low-engine-speed shove than the MX-5’s engines. As a result, if you already had the Mazda on your radar, it’s definitely worth taking a look at the Abarth 124 Spider, too.
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If you’d prefer a more upmarket two-seater convertible, then a worthy candidate for you to consider is the Audi TT Roadster. The well-made interior makes the TT Roadster feel reassuringly expensive on the inside, and the exterior styling is pretty classy, too. Thanks to the car losing value over the years, you can pick up a used example for a handy saving over what you’d pay for a brand new model.
While it isn’t the last word in behind-the-wheel thrills, the Audi TT Roadster nevertheless has good handling and a well-judged ride, so it’s an ideal choice for buyers after an easy-going two-seater convertible.
There’ll likely be an Audi TT Roadster variant to suit most buyers’ tastes and budgets, as the car was available with everything from an entry-level 1.8-litre petrol engine to a potent turbocharged five-cylinder engine in the flagship TT RS version, which emits a very distinctive warble when worked hard. Look hard enough, and you may even find an earlier example that came with a diesel engine under the bonnet, which could suit you if you want a very economical two-seater.
Unlike the original BMW Z4, which was a hard-edged sports car that struck a chord with driving enthusiasts, the second- and third-generation models that you’ll find for sale on BuyaCar are a bit softer and more mature in comparison. While that means they don’t set new standards for fun handling, it means they could work for you if you’re after a user-friendly two-seater convertible.
If you’d prefer something that leans more to the cossetting end of the spectrum, the second-generation model may be a better match for you; the ride is very supple by sports car standards, and the folding metal roof means it’s decently refined when you need to drive with the roof up.
The third-generation version is still a pretty usable roadster, though, and its sportier handling setup means you may prefer it if you want something that’ll put a smile on your face down a twisty road.
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Like the look of the previously-mentioned Abarth 124 Spider, but would prefer something a bit more affordable to buy and comfortable on the road? You’re in luck, as the Fiat 124 Spider takes a lot of the attributes that make its Abarth counterpart appealing, and packages it into a slightly slower yet still brisk, compact convertible.
Like the Abarth 124 and the Mazda MX-5 models it’s closely related to, the Fiat 124 is fun to drive and, thanks to its softer suspension setup, rides surprisingly well for a featherweight sports car. Because the turbocharged petrol engine has decent mid-range punch, the Fiat 124 Spider is also great to cruise about in - especially when the weather’s warm enough for you to drop the roof down and enjoy some al fresco motoring.
It seems Jaguar was very confident in the cabriolet credentials of its F-Type. At the sports car’s launch in 2013, it was initially only available in its drop-top F-Type Convertible guise. Handily, that faith was well-placed, as the Jaguar F-Type Convertible makes a very appealing choice if you’re after a two-seater sports car that looks great and is fun to drive.
All Jaguar F-Type Convertibles bring to the table fun handling, a cosseting interior and a fairly supple ride by sports car standards, though there are important differences between certain models. Most were rear-wheel-drive, though some were equipped with an all-wheel-drive system, and engine options ranged from a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder to supercharged 3.0-litre V6 and 5.0-litre V8s.
If you can afford their higher running costs, the supercharged engines make a great choice if you plan on doing lots of roof-down driving, as you can hear their raspy engine notes more clearly this way.
The world of cars has changed a lot over the years, though one of the few constants that’s remained incredibly consistent throughout that time has been the Mazda MX-5. Across its many iterations, the Mazda has stuck to its guns as a lightweight and affordable sporty roadster - making it one of the best two-seater convertibles you can buy.
The current version of the Mazda MX-5, which went on sale in 2015, has very much kept that tradition going, so it’s a great choice if you’re after good value wind-in-your-hair thrills. You’ll find a few different versions of the Mazda MX-5 listed for sale, ranging from the entry-level models to the MX-5 RF variant that becomes a sort of mini grand tourer thanks to its retractable metal roof (the standard car comes with a folding fabric one), though all iterations promise to be fun little cars that’ll put a big smile on your face for not much money.
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Most of the two-seater convertibles that we’ve featured on this list are lightweight and nimble little sports cars. If that sort of car doesn’t quite float your boat, you’ll be pleased to know that Mercedes' two-seater drop-tops come in a few different flavours - for instance, you could always go down the larger grand tourer route by opting for a used Mercedes SL.
While it’s not exactly the most exciting drop-top to drive, the Mercedes SL nevertheless handles corners well and is fun down a twisty road. Where the SL comes into its own is on longer drives, as the car’s plush cabin, well-judged ride and good refinement with the roof up or down makes this Mercedes a great mile muncher.
Most of the used SLs you’ll find will likely be the SL 400 model, which was the most popular version of the car, though Mercedes did offer faster-still SL 500, SL 63 and SL 65 variants if you’d prefer a bit more performance from your Mercedes convertible.
Rain or shine, the Mini convertible provides year-round fun. It's a more roomy alternative to the DS 3 Cabrio and Fiat 500C, taking the form factor of its hatchback sibling rather than the other, more coupe-like cars on this list.
The smallest 1.5-litre petrol engine is fun and economical, but it's the 2.0-litre engine that brings the car alive, which you can find in the fast Cooper S or the bonkers John Cooper Works. Whether you go for petrol or the less common diesel engine, the eight-speed automatic is a must if you prefer an easy - but no less thrilling - life.
If you can learn to live with the small boot - 160 litres - then you'll be fine. But a word of warning: if you fit the wind deflector that rests above the back seats, you'll only have room for one more. Look for a model with this optional 'Convertible Pack' to reduce the breeze inside.
The previous version of the BMW 4 Series Convertible has a metal folding roof as opposed to a fabric one, which makes the car quite heavy and certainly not as sprightly as its lighter and stiffer coupe equivalent - BMW opted for a fabric roof in the new 4 Series.
The advantage of a hardtop is that it's much quieter when the roof is up, and the car is more secure too. Given the 4 Series Convertible's weight, the diesel engine is a good choice, for its stronger pulling power, which makes accelerating away feel smoother and less strained.
It's a handsome car too, with an equally attractive and well-built interior. There’s plenty of space in the front while legroom is pretty generous in the rear. Headroom at this end of the car is pretty tight, though, when the roof is up. The boot is a decent size at 370 litres but when the roof is down, this shrinks to 220 litres.
Our pick Audi A5 Cabriolet 40 TFSI S Line S tronic
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The Audi A5 Cabriolet is a classy convertible, combining solid build quality, powerful engines and a superb interior. As well as the high-tech options available in the A5 Coupe, the Cabriolet has some unique features, including microphones in the seatbelts for clearer hands-free phone calls and a neck-heating system.
The roof is made of several fabric layers to reduce noise when it's up. The electric system folds in just 15 seconds, while you're driving at speeds of up to 31mph. Space in the back is reasonable but headroom is tight when the roof is up. The boot is impressively large though: 320 litres with the roof down or 380 litres with it in place.
It’s not the most nimble of convertibles, but the A5 is more of a cruiser than a sports car, so it does absorb the bumps well. Like most convertibles, you can feel slight wobbles in the car's structure because of the lack of a fixed roof, but it’s nothing serious. Audi’s 2.0-litre 'TDI ultra' diesel engine is a cracker: powerful, smooth and frugal, although a petrol-powered model might provide a better soundtrack with the roof down. There's even a performance S5 model with a powerful V6 engine. A 2.0-litre petrol model will provide a decent balance of both.
If you’re after a sporty two-seater roadster that’s fun to drive, there are few better options out there than the Porsche Boxster. Despite officially being the entry-level model in the current Porsche pecking order, the Boxster has a reputation for being a car that driving enthusiasts love to get behind the wheel of, thanks to its agile handling and strong performance.
While the Boxster is in its element when you’re driving it down a twisty road on a sunny day with the roof down, you can feasibly use this Porsche as an everyday car should you desire. The ride, while firm, isn’t overly hard or uncomfortably over bumpy surfaces, and because the Boxster has two boots (one in the front, the other at the back) there’s a decent 275 litres of luggage volume. Opt for one of the turbocharged cars over the flagship 3.0-litre models, and you’ll have a Boxster with respectable fuel economy for a sports car, too.
*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:
48 monthly payments of £192
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
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