It’s an oft-repeated trope that Britain is one of the largest markets for convertibles in the world. And no wonder: with our weather the way it is, it should come as no surprise that we like to take advantage of the sun when it does come out.
Convertibles, however, have been on the decline for some time now. In fact, CarGurus research reveals that the choice of new convertible cars on the market has fallen by -56% since 2005 as a result of car manufacturers spending their research pounds on electrification and SUVs. Sadly, cars with a removable roof simply haven’t got as much of a look-in in recent years.
But that doesn’t mean you can no longer buy a good convertible these days. Even if you’re buying new, there are some brilliant options – and if you’re looking to buy used, there’s still a vast array of different convertibles available to you. To show you what we mean, we’ve gathered together some of the best options on the market, and with prices starting from under £1,000, and rising to upwards of £100,000, there’s something for everybody. These are what we rate as the best convertible cars, regardless of budget.
The Best New and Used Convertibles to Buy in 2024
- Fiat 500: The electric fashionista
- Jaguar XK: The suave sophisticate
- Mazda MX-5: The affordable roadster
- Bentley Continental GTC: The lottery win convertible
- Audi A3 Cabriolet: The family-friendly fuel saver
- Saab 900 Convertible: The Scandi style icon
- Porsche Boxster: The thoroughbred sports car
- Ford Focus CC: The bargain basement drop-top
- Mercedes-Benz SL: The rock star car
- MINI Convertible: The fun urban cruiser
- Audi R8 Spyder: The everyday supercar
- Triumph Spitfire: The affordable classic
Fiat 500: The electric fashionista
It’s no secret that electric cars are pretty expensive to buy. But among them, the Fiat 500 is one of the more affordable. What’s more, with this convertible version, you can make the switch to electric and enjoy al fresco motoring whenever the mood takes you. Of course, you also get the benefit of the 500’s smart, stylish cockpit, town-friendly dimensions and high-fashion image. You could argue that the fabric roof doesn’t come fully down, so it’s not a proper open-top, but it still gives you a flavour of wind-in-the-hair motoring. And of course, if you can’t afford the new electric version, you can always go for the older Fiat 500C with a petrol engine, which looks almost as good. In either case, just make sure you don’t need much in the way of legroom in the rear seats, or boot space.
Fiat 500 Review
Search for a Fiat 500 on CarGurus
Jaguar XK: The suave sophisticate
The second-generation Jaguar XK is the automotive equivalent of a linen blazer and chino combo; the ultimate smart-casual convertible. With its thumping great V8 engine, it’s powerful enough that performance will never be an issue, but this isn’t a sports car at heart; rather, it’s a soft-top grand tourer, rolling pace, comfort and opulence into a convertible that’ll have you in Antibes for lunch without breaking a sweat. Think of it as a cut-price Aston Martin, and you won’t be too far wide of the mark.
Search for a Jaguar XK on CarGurus
Mazda MX-5: The affordable roadster
If it’s a two-seater sports car you’re after, the Mazda MX-5 is hard to beat. There’s an MX-5 out there for every budget, though if you can stretch to it, the best of the bunch is the latest Mk4 model, which you can still buy brand-new from any Mazda showroom, or second-hand from around £10,000. Everything about the MX-5 is designed for thrills, from its revvy engine to its snappy manual gearbox to its lightweight rear-wheel-drive chassis, and with relatively little power on tap, you can exploit everything the Mazda has to offer at sensible speeds on your favourite b-road. Or just cruise with the top down and enjoy the buzzy engine note – the MX-5 is happy doing either. The later versions come with either a fabric roof, or, on the RF (Retractacle Fastback) model, a folding metal roof to make it look more like a coupe when the roof is up.
Mazda MX-5 Review
Search for a Mazda MX-5 on CarGurus
Bentley Continental GTC: The lottery win convertible
As far as cabrios that ooze pure luxury go, they don’t get much better than the Bentley Continental GT. Cocooned inside the leather-lined splendour of its cockpit, you’re barely ruffled by the wind as the cosseting air suspension irons out every bump in the road. Of course, you’ll have to pay a six-figure sum for the privilege – but cast your eye across the luscious wood veneer and drink in the smooth, sonorous tone of the engine, and you’ll probably agree it’s worth the money.
Bentley Continental GTC Review
Search for a Bentley Continental GTC on CarGurus
Audi A3 Cabriolet: The family-friendly fuel saver
If saving money is more important to you than spending it, you could do far worse than by buying an Audi A3 Cabriolet. You can have it with Audi’s excellent 1.4-litre petrol four-cylinder turbo engine, which shuts down two of its cylinders at a cruise to save fuel. And if you really want to be frugal, you can even buy the A3 Cabrio with one of the Volkswagen Group’s excellent diesel engines, that’ll sip fuel while also giving you your fix of open-air motoring. But the A3 isn’t just a one-trick pony – it’s also good to drive, with a comfortable ride and neat, sporty handling. You’ll also love its plush, high-quality interior, and unlike many convertibles that claim to be so, it’s a genuine four-seater. A very decent boot adds to its impressive practicality, despite the folding roof. Who needs to upgrade to an Audi A5 Convertible?
Audi A3 Review
Search for an Audi A3 Cabriolet on CarGurus
Saab 900 Convertible: The Scandi style icon
If you want a convertible that’ll look achingly cool, no matter the occasion, may we refer you to the first-generation Saab 900? Whether you’re cruising to the pub for a pint, or pulling up at the golf club, the early 900 looks right at home; it simply oozes Scandinavian cool. You can have it with the rip-snorting 16-valve Turbo engine – a good example will cost you around £10,000 – or pay much less for a humble naturally aspirated model, which is actually not a bad idea given the 900 is no sports car anyway. Whichever you go for, it’ll make you look good in any situation. Just do go expecting the latest infotainment tecnology, because this is a very old car nowadays.
Search for a Saab 900 Convertible on CarGurus
Porsche Boxster: The thoroughbred sports car
Once upon a time, the Boxster was derided – rather unfairly – as the car you bought if you couldn’t afford a Porsche 911. While that’s true or not, it shouldn’t detract from the fact that the Boxster is a brilliant car in its own right, offering the sort of taut, high-performance driving experience you’d expect from a vehicle with the Porsche badge and combining it with a handsome, compact two-seat bodyshell. Nowadays, early Boxster prices are pretty reasonable, too, though there are a few issues to watch out for – read our review to find out more. If you fancy something new, the latest Porsche 718 Boxster is still one of the best convertible sports cars you can buy, outhandling rivals such as the BMW Z4 and now-discontinued Audi TT Roadster, even if the entry-level four-cylinder engines have lost a bit of aural appeal.
Porsche Boxster Review
Search for a Porsche Boxster on CarGurus
Ford Focus CC: The bargain basement drop-top
With its slightly awkward looks and humdrum image, you might not think much of the convertible Focus. But with good examples now available for less than £2,000, it’s a great way to get access to the sunshine with very little outlay. The CC (it stands for Coupe Cabriolet on account of its folding metal roof) is heavier than the standard Focus, so it isn’t quite as good to drive – but it’s still comfortable and neat in corners. The only thing you’ll have to watch for is water leaks – quite a few of the earlier cars had problems with leaky seals around the folding hard-top, so check carefully for signs of water ingress.
Search for a Ford Focus CC on CarGurus
Mercedes-Benz SL: The rock star car
Let’s face it: anyone who was anyone in the 1990s was driving around in one of these Mercedes SLs. And time hasn’t dinted their glamorous image; even though you can buy a good one for less than £10,000 these days, the SL still looks a million bucks. Feels it, too, thanks to the brilliantly built cockpit and luxurious leather trim. And while there are one or two expensive problems to keep an eye out for, an SL is still by and large a pretty robust bit of kit, a modern classic you can use every day. That makes them seem like terrific value, for the time being at least.
Search for a Mercedes-Benz SL on CarGurus
MINI Convertible: The fun urban cruiser
We’re big fans of the MINI Cooper in hatchback form, and removing the roof does nothing to harm its appeal. Granted, you do lose some boot space, but what you gain is fresh-air motoring, with space for four, all while retaining the MINI’s nifty handling, fashionable styling and funky interior. And as with all MINIs, the compact dimensions mean it’s a doddle to drive round town, making this the ideal convertible car for taking on the urban jungle.
Search for a MINI on CarGurus
Audi R8 Spyder: The everyday supercar
Audi’s R8 might not quite have the badge cachet of a Ferrari, but it’s still a bona fide supercar, with a choice of warbly V8 and screaming V10 engines mounted in the centre of the car and drop-dead gorgeous looks. Whichever motor you choose, the roadster version gives you the best access to that terrific exhaust note, and you don’t really lose anything in terms of handling compared with the hard-top model, either. And while you could never call the R8 cheap, prices for used models start at £45,000, which is not a lot to pay for a car of its capability.
Audi R8 Review
Search for an Audi R8 on CarGurus
Triumph Spitfire: The affordable classic
If you’ve ever been to a classic car show, you’ll have laid eyes on a Spitfire. It’s one of the stalwarts of the British classic car scene, and its ubiquity has kept prices fairly reasonable. The Spitfire is a brilliant little classic roadster to buy, because it’s a doddle to work on thanks to the wide-opening bonnet, it’s great to drive, and it looks extremely pretty. Space inside is tight and the hood will probably leak, but that’s what you get with an old British roadster. In the summer, you’ll forget all that and revel in the rasp of its exhaust and the neat, involving handling.
Search for a Triumph Spitfire on CarGurus