Best convertibles 2024 – we name the top 10 cabriolet cars in the UK

A great cabriolet allows you to make the most of the weather when the sun shines without sacrificing driver fun or comfort. These are the best convertible cars available in the UK.....

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by
Darren Moss
Published16 May 2024

Despite the often unpredictable UK weather, car buyers here love their convertibles. After all, what could be better on one of those rare hot days than feeling the sun on your face and the wind in your hair as you drive along?

The best drop-tops are not just summer toys, though. As well as offering limitless headroom and open-air thrills, they're also great to drive, look sharp and offer blistering sports car performance. There are even some surprisingly practical cabriolets available, with usable back seats and enough boot space for spontaneous weekend getaways.

BMW 4 Series Convertible right driving

And after driving every model available to buy new in the UK, our expert team of road testers agree that best soft-top you can buy is the convertible version of the BMW 4 Series.

We tested each car with its roof up and down in a variety of weather conditions, so our verdict is one you can trust when you're thinking of buying a new cabriolet.

Below we list our current top 10 best convertibles – and reveal the one we suggest you avoid. If any of them take your fancy, just click on the relevant link to find out more or see how much you could save by checking our free New Car Deals pages.

Our pick: 420i M Sport 2dr Step Auto

0-62mph: 8.2 sec
MPG/range: 41.5mpg
CO2 emissions: 154g/km
Seats: 4
Boot: 385 litres
Insurance group: 32E
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Strengths

  • Range-topping M440i is seriously rapid
  • More fun to drive than direct rivals
  • More room in the back than you might imagine

Weaknesses

  • Some wind and tyre noise
  • Back seats don't split and fold down
  • Divisive looks

The greatest compliment we can pay the BMW 4 Series is that on its journey from coupé to convertible, it has remained thoroughly excellent to drive – something that’s so often not the case, given the extra weight and strengthening which a convertible car needs.

In the 4 Series, however, it retains the sharp handling and punchy performance which we so enjoy in the coupé. Plus, the 4 series features the kind of high-tech, comfortable interior which will make even long journeys a breeze, and it’s even relatively practical for your family.

While you could opt for the potent M440i version, which is powered by a 369bhp 3.0-litre petrol engine and can hit 62mph in just 4.5 seconds, we think the entry-level 181bhp 2.0-litre petrol is the better bet for most buyers. It's still pretty potent, dispathing the 0-62mph sprint in 7.5 seconds, yet should also keep your running costs in check.

In fact, our testers described the 4 Series Convertible as a near-flawless car, especially with the adjustable suspension of our favourite model, the M Sport Pro. Little wonder, then, that it tops our list of Britain's best convertible cars.

"Agile handling and a cosseting ride go hand in hand in the 4 Series Convertible" – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Read our BMW 4 Series Convertible review

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Strengths

  • A quiet and relaxing cruiser
  • CLE 300 is a punchy performer
  • Roomier in the back than you might imagine

Weaknesses

  • Slightly more expensive than its closest rival
  • Not as sharp to drive as a BMW 4 Series
  • Forward visibility could be better

With the launch of the convertible version of the Mercedes CLE, the premium German car brand will be hoping to loosen the rival BMW 4 Series' dominance of this class – and it comes close to doing just that.

It can't quite match the 4 Series as a driver's car, but it does offer proper seats for four adults, a usefully big boot and a very smart interior. Plus, the CLE Cabriolet has the kind of plush ride that suits cruising around on a blazing hot day while the slick nine-speed automatic gearbox does most of the work.

Our pick of the engines is the 255bhp 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine you get in the CLE 300. It's not the quickest option, with 0-62mph taking 6.6 seconds, but we think it's a good fit for the car's ride and handling.

All the trims are well equipped, so even if you stick with entry-level AMG Line you'll have plenty of toys to enjoy, but to get access to our favourite engine, you must choose at least AMG Line Premium, which adds a 360-degree camera and a parking assist feature.

"With the fabric roof up, there's not much road and wind noise inside because it does a very good job of keeping out the outside world." – Lawrence Cheung, New Cars Editor

Read our Mercedes CLE Cabriolet review

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Strengths

  • Decent range between charges
  • Fun to drive around town
  • Stacks up well financially

Weaknesses

  • Tiny rear seats
  • Noisy on the motorway
  • Rivals have longer electric ranges

No small electric car comes with more Instagrammable looks than the Fiat 500C Electric, but beyond its cutesy style, there's plenty of substance on offer here too.

You get a 42kWh battery pack that's officially capable of taking you up to 199 miles between charges, while the 117bhp electric motor offers enough punch to make driving on tight urban streets a breeze.

The interior of the cabriolet version mirrors that of the Fiat 500 Electric hatchback, which means a high-set driving position which gives you a good view over the road ahead, and an ergonomic dashboard which places all of the controls within easy reach. Plus, everything feels well screwed together.

There's not a lot of space inside, but we still managed to fit a couple of carry-on suitcases into the boot when the convertible hood was folded down. 

"The 500C's fabric roof can be retracted in several stages, depending on how much air you want to let in" – Darren Moss, Deputy Digital Editor

Read our Fiat 500 Electric review

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Strengths

  • Massive performance
  • Beautifully crafted interior
  • More fun to drive than most of its GT rivals

Weaknesses

  • Limited rear-seat space
  • Boot could be bigger
  • As a cruiser, there are softer-riding alternatives

The drop-top version of the Aston Martin DB12 is less practical than many of the other cars on this list, but in terms of outright driving thrills, it walks over almost any other rival.

It offers massive performance courtesy of a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine sourced from Mercedes-AMG, plus a beautifully crafted interior. But while there's 671bhp on offer, it doesn't feel difficult to drive – indeed, it's perfectly happy to pootle around town, helped by feelsome steering and a nicely settled ride.

As a grand tourer, the DB12 Volante is as good as it gets, blending comfort with sporty handling in a way that few rivals can match. If you're sitting in its front seats, you'll find that you have plenty of room to stretch out. But while the rear seats beat some rivals for space, they'll mostly be used for short trips or – more likely – to hold a couple of weekend bags that you haven't been able to fit into the boot.

"It might not be especially practical, but the DB12 Volante is great to drive and feels special inside – indeed, its interior is much improved over that of the DB11" – Steve Huntingford, Editor

Read our Aston Martin DB12 review

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Strengths

  • Powerful engines
  • Relatively practical
  • Four-wheel drive improves V8’s all-weather driveability

Weaknesses

  • Disappointing build quality
  • Rear seats are only for short trips
  • Fiddly infotainment system

The Mercedes-AMG SL has been the go-to luxury convertible for more than 50 years, but the latest generation is more sporting than ever.

In fact, the 55 version we recommend has a storming 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine under its bonnet, which delivers 469bhp to all four wheels – enough to get the SL to 60mph in just 3.7sec. The downside to that performance is fuel economy, and we reckon most drivers will only see high teens being read on their dashboard – meaning you can expect to spend a significant amount of time filling up.

Even so, the SL is still more of a grand tourer than an out-and-out sports car, with composed handling aided by four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering. It's even relatively practical if you ignore the slightly cramped rear seats, with more space in its boot than the rival Lexus LC. Its roof can be folded away in 15 seconds, and at speeds of up to 37mph.

"Rear seats come as standard on the Mercedes-AMG SL for the first time, but they're tiny. The front seats, however, will easily accommodate a pair of six-footers " – Lawrence Cheung, New Cars Editor

Read our Mercedes AMG SL review

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Strengths

  • Strong engines
  • Smart interior
  • Cheap by drop-top standards

Weaknesses

  • Tight rear space
  • Small boot
  • Firm ride

If you like your convertibles small and cute, look no further than the Mini Convertible. You get the same smart styling and good driving dynamics as the modern Mini hatchback, but there's also an electric folding fabric roof for when the sun is out.

There's a choice of three petrol engines to choose from, with the entry-level 1.5-litre version being our favourite for its peppy performance and reasonable running costs. If you want more oomph, then consider the 176bhp 2.0-litre petrol motor in the Cooper S, or the 228bhp version in the range-topping John Cooper Works model. 

If you'd rather commute without using a drop of fuel, then there's also a fully electric version of the Mini Convertible. You might be hard pressed to find one, though, because just 150 were ever sold. 

While there are, technically, four seats in the Mini Convertible, your rear passengers don't get a lot of space. At least you can get more into the boot than in a Fiat 500 Cabrio.

"The Mini Convertible has offset pedals, just like those of the Mazda MX-5, which might be an issue for shorter drivers" – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Read our Mini Convertible review

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Strengths

  • Solid build quality
  • Class-leading infotainment
  • Effortless performance

Weaknesses

  • Ride is firm for a luxury cabriolet
  • Not as involving to drive as sportier rivals
  • Rear space is poor given the size of the car

If you have deep pockets and want your convertible to be luxurious as well as thrilling, then the 8 Series Convertible is likely to end up on your shortlist.

The 840i model we recommend might be the entry point in the range, but it's likely to offer all the performance you need. Plus it'll be cheaper to run than the V8-engined M850i – even though that model sounds fantastic and has 523bhp to play with. It just doesn't deliver the same thrills as a similarly-priced Porsche 911 or the comfort of a Lexus LC Convertible

Inside you get to enjoy BMW's excellent iDrive infotainment system, which is very easy to get along with, plus more boot space than you'll find in the Lexus.

The quality of materials used inside the 8 Series is top-notch, while its seats are comfortable and offer lots of adjustment, meaning no matter your size and shape you should be able to find your perfect driving position quickly.

"It's sublime to drive, but the 8 Series' interior doesn't feel that much more special than the BMW 5 Series" – Claire Evans, Consumer Editor

Read our BMW 8 Series Convertible review

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Strengths

  • Huge performance
  • Luxurious and beautifully built interior
  • A genuine four-seater

Weaknesses

  • Range-topping W12 sounds flat
  • Not as comfortable as coupé
  • Missing some safety kit

We know not all owners of the Continental GTC will find themselves driving along a beautiful coastal road while heading to their summer bolthole in the South of France, but many will – and it's perfectly designed for that scenario.

Of course, any car wearing a Bentley badge needs to be luxurious, and the GTC offers luxury in spaces, with just about every surface trimmed in polished wood or soft leather. In fact, it even manages to outstrip the Aston Martin DB12 for plushness.

When it comes to engine choice, we’d take the "entry-level" V8 engine over the flagship W12 because it sounds better and is happier to rev.

Drawbacks? If you can afford the purchase price, the hefty fuel economy won't come as a shock. For the well-healed, the fact it's not quite as comfortable as the coupé may irk that little bit more.

"The V8-engined Continental GT Convertible can crack the 0-60mph sprint in 4.0sec, just 0.4sec behind the W12 model. That's despite having four fewer cylinders, and being down on power to the tune of 108bhp" – Lawrence Cheung, New Cars Editor

Read our Bentley Continental GTC review

Our pick: 1.5 TSI EVO Style 2dr

0-62mph: 9.6 sec
MPG/range: 44.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 142g/km
Seats: 4
Boot: 284 litres
Insurance group: 25E
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Strengths

  • Comfortable with roof up or down
  • Generous equipment levels
  • High-up driving position

Weaknesses

  • Extra weight blunts performance
  • Touch-sensitive controls can be awkward to use
  • Body flexes over bumps

Open-top SUVs are a pretty rare sight on UK roads, but there are lots of reasons to enjoy the T-Roc Cabriolet.

For one, there's the sheer enjoyment of having the raised ride height and chunky looks of an SUV, mixed with the open-top thrills of a convertible. It's also a comfy choice, and there's a good range of petrol engines to choose from.

The 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine, in particular, offers punchy performance, while also keeping your running costs in check. There's little need to venture beyond entry-level Style trim, either, because this comes with everything you're likely to want, including dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers and 17in alloy wheels.

Other plus points include proper space for adults on the rear seats, and space for six carry-on suitcases in the T-Roc Cabriolet's boot. Plus, the rear seats split and fold if you need to turn the rear of the car into an open-top van.

"Being a tall SUV, there is some body lean through corners, but the T-Roc Cabriolet's ride is good – which is a bonus when travelling on battered British roads" – Darren Moss, Deputy Digital Editor

Read our VW T-Roc Cabriolet review

Our pick: 114kW 42.2kWh 3dr Auto

0-62mph: 7 sec
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Seats: 4
Boot: 185 litres
Insurance group: 23D
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Strengths

  • Peppy in-town performance
  • Sharp steering
  • Fun around town

Weaknesses

  • Limited real-world range when driven in a spirited manner
  • Rivals are quicker in a straight line
  • Tiny rear seats

Abarth is Fiat's performance division, so it should come as no surprise that the 500e Convertible shares many of the same positive attributes as its Fiat sibling. That means it's good to drive easy to weave in and out of city traffic.

What the 500e gains over its sibling is more power – in fact, it's boosted from 117bhp to 153bhp, resulting in a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.0sec. That's marginally quicker than the petrol-powered Abarth 595.

With a 37.8kWh (usable capacity) battery, the Abarth 500e Convertible has an official range of 157 miles – and less in real-world conditions. That means lots of charging stops if you're going on longer trips – thankfully, the 500e's battery can be charged from 0-80% in just over half an hour if you use the fastest public chargers.

Inside, unique touches include sport seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, contrasting stitching and aluminium pedal covers. Speaking of the seats, we wish the driver's seat was mounted a little lower, because taller drivers might feel as though they're perched on the car rather than in it.

"A tablet-style 10.25in infotainment display comes as standard, as well as a 7.0in screen for driver information" – George Hill, Staff Writer

Read our Abarth 500e review


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Fiat 500C Hybrid

The Fiat 500C Hybrid has a desirable image and is easy enough to drive around town. However, it is difficult to get comfortable in and generally outclassed in all areas by the more grown-up Mini Convertible. Read our review

FAQs

What is the most reliable convertible car?

The most reliable convertible car is the Mini Convertible. That's the result of our What Car? Reliability Survey, which every year takes into account the real-world experiences of car owners, who tell us whether their cars went wrong in the previous year, as well as what went wrong and how long it took to fix.

In our most recent survey, the Mini Convertible returned a reliability rating of 97.1%, with only 11% of models going wrong in the previous year. Of the models which did experience problems, most were with the brakes, engine, or sat-nav and infotainment systems. In most cases Mini paid for all repairs, and most cars could still be driven.

Which convertible car is the most fun to drive?

The best convertible car to drive is the Aston Martin DB12 Volante. While the rival, cheaper BMW 4 Series Convertible is the best convertible car overall, the DB12 is the better option if a) You can afford it, and b) you want driving thrills above all else.

With 671bhp coming from its V8 engine, the DB12 is never short on pace. And because it delivers that pace in such great dollops of fun, and with such a fantastic soundtrack, pushing on through the next series of bends is something you'll want to do often.

What is the downside of a convertible?

The two main criticisms of convertibles are safety and exposure. However, extensive studies have concluded that modern convertibles are no less safe than fixed-roof alternatives, thanks to advances in strengthening car bodies, as well as a plethora of advanced safety and driver assistance kit. That extra strengthening can sometimes lead to compromised handling, though – so it's worth reading our extensive reviews of any convertible car you're thinking of buying.

Exposure is a consideration if you live in an area which is regularly hit with rainfall or other adverse weather conditions, since those could damage the interior of your car if you're not quick enough to put the roof up.

How long does a convertible top last?

This depends on the type of convertible car you buy. Some convertibles come with hard-top roofs which should last as long as any other part of the car.

Most convertibles, however, come with soft-top or fabric roofs. These are typically expected to last for about ten years, but that very much depends on how much you use your car and where you store it. A convertible which is used rarely and kept in a garage, for example, will typically last longer than a convertible which is driven every day and kept on the street.