Best used convertible cars for less than £25,000
It’s time to get a great used convertible before the sun disappears, so here's our top 10 list of the best examples for less than £25,000.....
The start of summer seems to have been delayed for the moment, but when it does finally show up, these are the open-tops to buy if you’ve got £25,000 burning a hole in your pocket.
Should you consider a bit of fun in the sun? Of course you should, and that's why we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best convertible cars for less than the aforementioned figure, saving you precious shortlisting time.
All the cars on this list are capable of losing their lids in a matter of moments to let you bask in the sun’s rays. And when the inevitable rain arrives, you can quickly get their roofs back up again to avoid getting drenched.
But give this one a wide berth...
Speaking of things to avoid, we’ve also included the one open-top car that you should steer clear of, because it’s about as much fun as a wet weekend in Margate. You have been warned.
10: BMW 4 Series Convertible
There’s definitely a certain something about a lidless BMW, even if you’re stuck in rush-hour traffic. The folding metal roof of the 4 Series is pretty clever and allows you to operate it on the go at speeds below 8mph.
That makes this BMW a fair bit heavier than its soft-top alternatives (the convertible version is actually heavier than the Coupé), so if you want something with a bit more oomph, you could opt for the 435i or 430d if you can find one within your budget.
10: BMW 4 Series Convertible - interior
The market for this classy convertible starts at around £15,000 for a 2014-2015 model with around 100,000 miles on the clock, and for that you get a premium interior and one of the best infotainment systems in the business.
The amount of available boot space varies dramatically whether the roof is open or closed, so bear that in mind.
We found: 2018 BMW 4 Series Convertible 420d M Sport manual, 2642 miles, £24,800
9: Jaguar XK convertible
The V8 packed under the bonnet of every XK convertible belies the car’s slinky elegance – the road-burning supercharged XKR even more so. It’s got plenty of pace but is thirsty – you’ll struggle to get more than 23-25mpg, depending on the spec – and maintenance costs are high.
9: Jaguar XK convertible - interior
Be on the lookout for accident damage, inspect the fabric hood for tears and check the tread depth of the tyres. Replacements aren’t cheap.
We found: 2012 Jaguar XK 5.0 V8 convertible, 60,000 miles, £23,988
8: BMW 6 Series Convertible
As a fairly large convertible suited to touring, the 6 Series Convertible has a thick fabric roof that ensures peaceful progress when it's closed. An upmarket interior is a given in the 6 Series, and even the six-cylinder diesel is a punchy and hushed engine.
You might want to opt for the SE model, though, because the firm M Sport suspension might not be for everyone. The 640d SE should manage a combined NEDC economy figure of 50.4mpg, although road tax can reach an eye-watering £465 a year if the car was registered after 1 April 2017.
8: BMW 6 Series Convertible - interior
Check that the air conditioning works, because expensive faults are notorious. Also look for any scuffed bumpers and damaged alloy wheels since this is a fairly big car that can be hard to park.
There have also been a few recalls, including for airbag faults, failed exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valves and pedestrian protection systems not working, so check with a BMW dealer to make sure your car isn’t affected.
We found: 2015 BMW 6 Series Convertible 640d M Sport auto, 50,000 miles, £24,480
7: Audi A5 Cabriolet
Although we weren’t too keen on the ride of the older A5 Cabriolet models (the S line in particular), the latest car is much better in that respect, and if you shop around you can now find examples for less than £25,000.
The A5 is a very elegant convertible, has a smooth and light gearbox and comes with a wide variety of engine and trim options. S Line models have a sportier look to them, while mid-range Sport cars have softer suspension fitted and are more comfortable.
7: Audi A5 Cabriolet - interior
The entry-level four-cylinder diesel is no disgrace to the elegant looks of the A5, because it’s smooth and quiet, and the 188bhp 2.0 TDI even has an official average fuel economy figure of 62.8mpg, while the 2.0 TFSI petrol should get 47.9mpg.
Some high-spec A5 Cabriolets registered after 1 April 2017 will have broken the £40,000 tax barrier, so check this out if you want to avoid paying the additional tax charge. It’s quite a long car, so check the wheels for kerb damage and make sure the infotainment system works correctly.
We found: 2017 Audi A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI Sport S tronic, 18,376 miles, £24,495
6: Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet
A convertible Merc certainly sounds tempting, especially if it’s as refined as the E-Class Cabriolet. It can even direct warm air at the occupants’ neck to prevent wind chill. You will find it’s less of a sports car and more of a cruiser, though.
6: Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet - interior
In terms of size, the E-Class sits between the smaller C-Class and larger S-Class, aiming to provide some middle ground between agility and luxury. There are plenty of engine variants, too, from frugal four-cylinders to thumping V8s. Watch for injector issues on diesel models, though.
We found: 2017 Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet E220d AMG Line, 6275 miles, £23,100
5: BMW Z4
Surprisingly good value as a used buy, the Z4 is one of the best-looking convertibles around. It can be quite a thrilling drive if you go for the excellent 335bhp six-cylinder 35is.
Most will plump for one of the more frugal turbocharged four-cylinder petrol models, though; they should be able to achieve 41.5mpg, which isn’t bad in comparison with some of the Z4's rivals.
5: BMW Z4 - interior
The folding metal roof takes up some boot space when it’s down, but it makes the Z4 quieter at motorway speeds. Larger M Sport alloy wheels are expensive to replace if they’re found to be cracked, and make sure you check for excessive clutch wear.
Find an example with a full service history, because the timing chains will wear more with infrequent servicing and if they stretch and snap, you’ll need a new engine.
We found: 2017 BMW Z4 20i M Sport auto, 26,926 miles, £22,642
4: Audi A3 Cabriolet
The A3 Cabriolet is exceptionally good, as evidenced by a price-point win at the 2019 What Car? Car of the Year awards. The 1.4 TFSI 150 petrol is a great engine, blending strong performance with excellent fuel economy. This model is nice to drive, too, and because it has four seats and a decent boot, the A3 Cabriolet is a great all-rounder.
Its lightweight fabric roof can be operated at speeds up to 31mph, too, so you don't have to stop to open or close it. The A3 will be pricier to buy than some on the cars on this list, but running costs for some models are quite low, with the 1.6 TDI in particular being capable of 67.3mpg.
4: Audi A3 Cabriolet - interior
As with any used convertible, check the footwells for water damage and the roof for leaks. Make sure the sat-nav doesn’t creak when it slides in and out of the dash, and listen for engine rattles from the 1.4 TFSI.
We found: 2018 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.5 TFSI Sport, 2200 miles, £24,000
3: Porsche Boxster
With the Boxster, you’re not just paying for the badge. Great to drive and civilised to own, the critically acclaimed third-generation version is lighter, stiffer and faster than its predecessors.
The standard 261bhp 2.7-litre engine is rapid and smooth but a little thirsty, delivering an average of 34.4mpg. Tax and insurance are also pricey, and regular servicing and oil changes are vital.
3: Porsche Boxster - interior
As usual, check the operation and condition of the hood. By this generation, many problems associated with the Boxster were ironed out, but there have been some issues with paintwork quality to look out for.
We found: 2013 Porsche Boxster 2.7 manual, 56,000 miles, £23,995
2: Audi TT Roadster
If two seats are all you need and you want a premium feel, the TT is hard to beat. It’s classier inside than some rivals and, unlike the Z4 and Mercedes SLC, the TT has a fabric roof, making it lighter and more agile.
The TT Roadster is available in a range of petrol and diesel engines, along with the option of four-wheel drive. Suspension is firm but generally comfortable; we’d avoid a TT fitted with larger wheels to maximise comfort. Get the petrol for performance, although the diesel is more frugal and still provides plenty of mid-range muscle.
2: Audi TT Roadster - interior
The TT Roadster is priced in line with the Z4 and Mercedes SLC, but it will hold its value better. All of the engines fitted to the TT are strong, plus you can manage nearly 40mpg in the 1.8 TFSI manual.
We found: 2017 Audi TT Roadster 1.8 TFSI S line, 16,684 miles, £21,990
1: Mazda MX-5
One of the most popular and iconic convertible sports cars ever made, the MX-5 combines a fun driving experience with reliability and low ownership costs. It’s compact enough to be great around town, and the soft suspension provides a brilliant ride.
Precise steering provides you with plenty of confidence to attack a twisty section of B-road. It isn’t the most practical car in terms of space, mind, but you’ll fit two smaller bags in the boot and there’s oddments storage all over the interior.
1: Mazda MX-5 - interior
Prices for this generation of MX-5 can be as low as £12,000, but we found an early used example of the more powerful 2.0-litre model in high-spec Sport Nav+ guise for just £21,000 – even less than our current Target Price for one. Official fuel economy figures say the MX-5 is good for between 35 and 40mpg, depending on the engine.
Older MX-5s are prone to rust, but the current car is too new for that, so any corrosion is a sure sign of poorly repaired accident damage. Check for uneven tyre wear, suggesting incorrect wheel alignment, and make sure the folding roof mechanism works properly.
We found: 2019 Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport Nav +, 11 miles, £21,000
So there's our list of the top ten used convertible for £25,000 or less. Now what about that one we said you should avoid...?
Nothing more than a heavily facelifted version of the old Mercedes SLK, the SLC isn't very nice to drive.
Mercedes SLC - interior
Nor does it have the traditionally cushy Mercedes ride and uses an outdated infotainment system that’s irksome to use. Avoid.