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Best convertible cars

Explore the UK’s best range of convertible cars, including the best hard top convertible cars and best four-seater convertible cars

Words by: Last updated: 20th March 2019
Here in the UK, we love a convertible. We love them so much, that after Germany, the UK is Europe’s biggest market for them. Whether you want your convertible as a special occasion car, a city runaround, or even family transport, there are plenty of options to get your vitamin D/intense grey cloud fix. Here are Auto Trader’s five favourite convertibles.

  • Mazda MX-5 – the fun convertible car
  • Audi A3 Cabriolet – the four-seat convertible car
  • Porsche Boxster – the enthusiast convertible car
  • Mercedes SL – the posh convertible car
  • Mini Convertible – the popular convertible car
Mazda MX-5 – the fun convertible car
The Mazda MX-5 has been the world’s best-selling sports car for more than 20 years, and with good reason. It’s a fantastic little car that gives you a great driving experience. It’s light and fast enough to thrill, without being silly. It offers nimble handling in a compact package that makes it particularly well suited to Britain’s country roads.

While some of it is quite un-fussy, with a manually operated fabric roof, no driver modes, rear-wheel drive and a naturally aspirated engine, you still get plenty of modern tech, with SE-L Nav getting you climate and cruise control, sat-nav, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen.

Honourable mentions:
Audi TT Roadster
Jaguar F-Type
Mazda MX-5 convertible car
Mazda MX-5 convertible car
Audi A3 Cabriolet – the four-seat convertible car
Based on the Audi A3 saloon, the A3 Cabriolet is handsome and has typically great Audi quality. It’s available with big car infotainment features, is fun yet comfortable to drive, and it’s roomy enough to seat four adults. It’s also one of those convertibles that looks as stylish with the roof up as it is does down, which in the UK, will probably be most of the time.

The three-layer fabric roof offers impeccable refinement, eliminating wind noise, and thanks to the optional wind deflector and heated seats, it’s a genuine all-season convertible. The roof can come down at the touch of a button at speeds up to 31mph.

Honourable mentions:
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Convertible
Bentley Continental GT Convertible
Audi A3 Cabriolet convertible car
Audi A3 Cabriolet convertible car
Porsche Boxster – the enthusiast convertible car
When it comes to convertibles that can handle, the Porsche Boxster has to be on the list. The latest 718 Boxster is no exception, thanks to a mid-engine configuration that helps the car feel balanced and poised at all times, plus a range of turbocharged engines that offer entertaining and accessible performance, even on the most boring drives.

The fabric roof can be operated at speeds up to 31mph, and with a front and rear boot, both big enough to take a couple of weekend bags, you could even call the 718 Boxster practical… ish.

Thanks to sharp steering response and agile handling, the 718 is a sports car that you’ll be able to place on the road with incredible precision and enjoy every corner. That said, keep in mind you’ll need to spend big on optional equipment to make your 718 Boxster a happy place... you don’t get all that much on the base spec.

Honourable mentions:
McLaren 720S Spider
Ford Mustang Convertible
Porsche Boxster convertible car
Porsche Boxster convertible car
Mercedes SL – the posh convertible car
The Mercedes-Benz SL is a luxurious two seat convertible that’s as adept at grand touring as it is city cruising. The combination of accurate steering, adaptive suspension and supremely comfortable seats in a beautifully appointed interior make this Merc a joyous place to be. It’s also loaded with gadgets, from massaging and ventilated seats that can blow warm air onto your neck, to the latest active safety equipment.

It also boasts more than enough glamour to park outside the finest Park Lane hotel, and that’s before you show off its party piece roof. Strangely, you have to begin this process from a standing start, after which the unfurling process is able to continue at speeds up to 25mph.

The V6 engine and relaxing nine-speed automatic gearbox work in silky smooth harmony, although if you’re after ultimate bragging rights, you could choose one of the bonkers Mercedes-AMG versions.

Honourable mentions:
Mercedes-Benz S-Class Convertible
Rolls-Royce Dawn
Mercedes-Benz SL convertible car
Mercedes-Benz SL convertible car
Mini Convertible – the popular convertible car
You’ve probably seen a lot of Mini Convertibles on the road. That will be because it’s one of the most popular convertibles in the UK.

Everything that makes the Mini Hatch a good little car – sharp steering and body control, style, high quality details – is all present and correct in the Convertible.

Allegedly it’s a four-seater, but the rear two seats are only really acceptable for children. It’s quite pricey when you compare it with other retro rivals like the Fiat 500C or the DS3 Cabrio, but it’s got strong resale prices and is a better car overall. Rear visibility isn't great, roof up or down, but you do get rear parking sensors and a reversing camera as standard to help.

Honourable mentions:
BMW 2 Series Convertible
Fiat 124 Spider
Mini Convertible car
Mini Convertible car
What is the difference between a convertible and a cabriolet?
There’s no real difference between a cabriolet and a convertible. They are different names for the type of car and are often used interchangeably.

A convertible is a car that can ‘convert’ from a car with a roof to one without and be driven in both scenarios.

The word “cabriolet” originates from 1800s France. It was originally used to refer to light, two-wheeled horse-drawn carriages. Like a convertible, the top could be pulled over if needed.

Some manufacturers prefer to call their cars cabriolets (or cabrios) because it is an older, more traditional term. American manufacturers, however, are more likely to refer to their cars as convertibles.
Types of convertible car
There’s a wide range of convertible cars on the market including two, four and five-seaters. Nowadays, you can also find electric and hybrid convertibles like the BMW i8 or Mazda MX-5.

Shop electric and diesel convertibles

Beyond the standard soft and hard-top convertible cars, there are other varieties like:
  • Semi convertibles (sometimes called cabrio coach). Unlike full convertibles, they have all the bodywork up to the top of the door – it’s just the roof that retracts.

  • Roadsters (also called spiders/spyders). These are normally sporty two-seaters, like the BMW i8,

  • Four door convertibles, like the Jeep Wrangler.

  • Off-roaders sometimes have convertible options, like the Suzuki Jimny and Land Rover Defender.

Convertible car roof types
Many convertible cars have roofs made of fabric, which is usually multi-layered to keep the cabin as quiet as possible when the roof is up.

Convertibles with retractable metal roofs tend to be much quieter than those with fabric roofs when it comes to road and wind noise. In some cases, they can be as quiet and secure as a regular hard-top car.

But metal-roofed convertibles tend to be heavier, which can affect fuel economy, and the mechanisms used to retract the roof can take up a lot of boot space when compared to convertibles with fabric roofs.

Some convertibles also offer a detachable hardtop. While some of these can be stored in the car’s boot, many can’t and so have to be left in a garage or storage. With so many improvements in retractable roofs, detachable hardtop are much less common nowadays.
Mini Cooper S Convertible car
Expert reviews
Here's what our team had to say about the convertible cars available in the UK:
What is the best hardtop convertible car?
What is the best four-seater convertible car?