Best convertible cars 2023
Given our changeable weather, you have to question why convertibles are so popular in the UK. Maybe it's because we like to make the most of what little sunshine we get, like dashing to the beach when the skies turn blue.
It's not hard to see the attraction. With a convertible, you can enjoy the wind in your hair and the sun on your face as you take in the sights and sounds of the countryside, or, let's face it, revel in the admiring glances as you drive slowly along the high street.
In the past, a convertible was something you kept for high days and holidays, but today's drop-tops are cars you can enjoy in all seasons and all weathers. Insulated roofs, neck warmers and heated seats are just some of things you might look for when choosing a new convertible.
To help you on your way, we've selected the best convertible cars you can buy right now. Each one is reasonably practical, so look elsewhere if you're after a sports car.
The MINI Convertible is every bit as fun to drive and great to live with as the regular MINI hatchback, but with the added bonus of a fabric roof. It’s not quite as practical as its tin-top sibling, but you can use the rear seats for extra storage if you can’t fit your holiday luggage in the boot. Naturally, you’ll want to explore the vast array of personalisation options, but even an entry-level MINI Convertible will feel more special than most small hatchbacks. Indeed, if you’re after a small convertible with a proper folding roof, this is probably your only option.
Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet
The Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet carries a £4000-£5000 premium over its Coupe equivalent, but is it worth it? In a word, yes, because with the roof up, the acoustic soft-top means it feels no less snug than the Coupe, plus you get all the benefits associated with owning a convertible. Thanks to the Aircap, a fancy name for a deflector and draught-stop, and the Airscarf, which directs heat at your neck, it's a convertible you can enjoy in the winter. It's also a proper four-seater, so your friends can come along for the ride.
BMW 8 Series Convertible
While the Bentley Continental GTC is an excellent luxury convertible, it is very much on the pricey side. The BMW 8 Series Convertible, however, is very nearly as luxurious to sit in and drive, but at a substantially lower price. It’s opulent and crammed with the latest technology, and arguably one of the best-looking BMWs currently on sale. The folding fabric roof tucks away into the boot at the touch of a button, although doing so takes up much of the frankly token back seats. Still, there’s not much better than you and a friend, sitting in an 8 Series and cruising roof-down in the sunshine.
Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, because the Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet makes more sense than you think. With convertible sales on the slide and SUVs more popular than ever, Volkswagen has decided to try something different. Land Rover’s experiment with the Range Rover Evoque Convertible ended in failure, but the T-Roc Cabriolet is cheaper and arguably less divisive. The entry-level version comes loaded with equipment, and even if it’s less practical than the standard T-Roc, it’s likely to be fine for young families or couples who fancy some sunshine. Exclusivity is guaranteed…
BMW 4 Series Convertible
BMW has ditched the folding metal hard-top of the old 4 Series Convertible in favour of a simpler fabric roof. It’s 40kg lighter than the complex old version, which helps to improve performance, reduce fuel consumption and increase practicality. So far, so convincing – so what’s the catch? Well, the size of the BMW kidney grille divides opinion like a well-known yeast extract, but we think it suits the design of the convertible. What’s more, if that’s the only negative aspect of the 4 Series Convertible, we think it’s a small price to pay.
Lexus LC 500 Convertible
You could play it safe and buy German. Alternatively, you could dare to be different by opting for the stunning Lexus LC 500 Convertible. With prices starting from around £110,000, it isn’t cheap, but let’s consider the positives. This is a rear-wheel-drive convertible powered by a 5.0-litre V8 engine, with styling that gets you noticed everywhere you go. It really does look like nothing else. Quality is on a par, if not better, than its Teutonic rivals, while the interior looks and feels as bespoke as the outside. If that’s not enough, the Mark Levinson audio system is one of the best on the market.
Audi TT Roadster
Although we said we couldn't include sports cars on our list of the best convertibles, we're prepared to make an exception for the Audi TT Roadster. Besides, it's always been one of the 'softer' sports cars, prioritising posing and comfort over speed and thrills. Prices start from around £40,000 before options, but all versions boast a quality interior and a folding roof that can be lowered in just 10 seconds at speeds of up to 30mph. Sadly, it's living on borrowed time, so grab the aptly named TT Roadster Final Edition while you still can. It's essentially an S line model with added extras.
Fiat 500 Electric Convertible
Before you write angry emails and besiege our social media feeds, we know – the Fiat 500 Electric Convertible isn’t a ‘proper’ drop-top. But we’ve decided that the sliding roof on the latest, all-electric model counts, because it’s very much in the spirit of open-air motoring. Some might call it a glorified sunroof, but the fabric roof slides all the way back to the rear window and lets in the elements, which is good enough for us. It also has style by the bucket load, and some 199 miles of electric range between battery charges. Perfect for a summer in the city.
Ford Mustang Convertible
It's not the bargain it once was, but few cars offer as much presence and theatre as the Ford Mustang. Opt for the Convertible, and you can enjoy the soundtrack of the 5.0-litre V8 as the wind rushes through your hair. The California Special (pictured) carries a £1500 premium over the standard GT Convertible, but you get an array of cosmetic upgrades, climate controlled front seats and an aluminium instrument panel. The Mustang Convertible will sprint to 62mph in around five seconds before maxing out at 155mph.
Bentley Continental GT Convertible
In the context of the discontinued Rolls-Royce Dawn, the Bentley Continental GT Convertible is a bit of a bargain. It’s also more of a driver’s car, so this is the luxury convertible to choose if you prefer B-roads to boulevards. You can select from twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 or 6.0-litre W12 engines, with the former offering the best blend of running costs, performance and soundtrack. With the roof up, the GT Convertible is as quiet and cosseting as the hard-top Continental GT. In the open air, it’s the perfect way to while away a sunny evening as you flit from café to café.
I’m worried about security. Is a convertible right for me?
If you’re concerned about leaving your convertible parked on the street, especially overnight, you might be advised to buy a car with a folding metal roof, rather than a fabric one. When closed, these hard-top roofs offer the same level of protection as a standard car, so you should have fewer sleepless nights. Metal roofs are less popular than they were a few years ago, but take a look at something like the Mazda MX-5 RF, which boasts a clever folding mechanism. That said, even soft-tops are much stronger and more resistant to theft than they used to be.
Are convertible cars more expensive to insure?
Unfortunately, a convertible is likely to cost more to insure than an equivalent car with a metal roof. Open cars are more prone to theft and vandalism, although buying a convertible with a folding metal roof will provide more protection. You also need to factor in the higher purchase price and costly repairs in the event of an accident. Don’t be too disheartened, though, because cars like the Fiat 500 Electric Convertible and MINI Convertible are relatively cheap to insure.
Do convertible roofs require special maintenance?
Aside from regular maintenance for the roof mechanism, a convertible with a folding metal top shouldn’t require any special treatment. Always check your vehicle’s handbook for more information, though. A fabric roof will demand more attention, so use a specialised fabric roof cleaner to remove bird droppings, tree sap and the like. Once clean, apply some protector to prevent the build-up of grime and to ensure moisture doesn’t seep into the fabric. Watching water bead off a fabric roof is strangely satisfying.