The best used convertibles (and the one to avoid)

Sunny weather is a fleeting phenomenon in this country, so we’ve put together a list of our favourite used convertibles to save you precious decision-making time.....

We’re not used to seeing the sun because it’s usually masked by low-flying cloud.

Best used convertibles montage

So when it is revealed we have to enjoy it while we can. That’s what makes convertibles great – they let us bask in the sunshine, even on the way to work. You might think that UK drivers wouldn’t particularly care for open-top cars but, despite the climate, we actually buy more than most other European countries. That's good news if you want one as it means there’s a welter of very affordable used examples available.

What’s more, there’s a used convertible to suit everyone – from practical and efficient four-seaters that can easily serve as family cars to elegant and luxurious grand tourers that are perfect for wafting around, and even small, sporty two-seaters that are perfect for a sunny weekend. An surely there's no better way to embrace the post-Covid world?

So, check out these fabulous cabrios – we’ve done all the hard work for you and put together a list of our favourites. We start at number 10, and work our way to our current favourite.

Slideshow story - please click the right-hand arrow above to continue, or simply scroll down if you’re reading on your mobile 

10: BMW 4 Series Convertible

Used BMW 4 Series Convertible 13-present

The BMW 4 Series Convertible follows in the footsteps of a long line of classy BMW cabriolets. It replaced the 3 Series Convertible in 2013, and in SE spec it’s very much a comfortable cruiser, with soft suspension giving it so-so handling but a smooth ride. M Sport is a popular trim and one that does feel sportier to drive, especially when paired with the 326bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine in the range-topping 440i version. 

The driver and front-seat passenger are well protected from wind rush with the roof down, but anyone in the back will find it cramped and rather exposed to the elements. However, you get a classy dashboard, one of the best infotainment and navigation systems around, and a leather-lined interior that feels very posh indeed. The automatic is the gearbox to go for due to its smooth yet quick shifts.

10: BMW 4 Series Convertible

Used BMW 4 Series Convertible 13-present

Pros
Lots of equipment
Comfortable ride
Security of folding hard-top

Cons
Small boot with roof down
Not as sharp to drive as coupé
Limited space in rear seats

9: Jaguar F-Type Convertible

Used Jaguar F-Type Convertible 13-present

Elegant yet purposeful, the Jaguar F-Type is one of the most desirable used convertibles around. This soft-top sports car is available in turbocharged four-cylinder, supercharged V6 and V8 form. All variants, especially six and eight-cylinder cars, sound amazing and drive like a dream, with fun handling and impressive performance. 

The premium nature of the vehicle does result in higher prices than a lot of the other cars on this list. However, plenty of bargains are out there, offering great value for money – just make sure you can stomach the F-Type’s appetite for fuel and tyres. Plus, as its a two-seater with a small boot, look elsewhere if practicality is a priority. 

9: Jaguar F-Type Convertible

Jaguar F-Type Convertible vs Mercedes SL

Pros
Good performance
Attractive styling
Lots of fun to drive

Cons
Tiny boot
Fiddly infotainment
Not cheap to run

8: BMW 2 Series Convertible

Used BMW 2 Series Convertible 14-present

The BMW 2 Series is a great all-round small convertible. The model is comfortable and fun to drive, comes with good petrol/diesel engines and packs sharp handling. It’s also reasonably practical, with four seats available.

The 2 Series feels classy and sporty throughout, with buyers able to choose from variants such as relaxed SE versions and M Sport variants that come with stiffer suspension. These days, the model offers really good value for a premium convertible. It’s also proved rather reliable, coming first out of 10 cars in the coupés, convertibles and sports cars class of the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey.

8: BMW 2 Series Convertible

Used BMW 2 Series Convertible 14-present

Pros
Compliant ride
Sharp handling
Strong performance

Cons
Cramped rear seats
Diesel engines noisy
Mid-spec trims not so well equipped

7: Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet

Used Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet 2010-2017

A drop-top with the three-pointed star on its nose is a covetable thing indeed, and the Mercedes E-Class Convertible is no exception. Clever aerodynamics and an innovative heating system that blows warm air at your neck to help prevent the chilling effect of wind buffeting helps to keep occupants warm. It’s well-built inside and supremely smooth and wafty, especially in SE spec.

There have been reports of injector issues with diesel engines and there was also a voluntary recall to reprogram the car’s emissions software in a bid to cut NOx output. The E-Class Cabriolet is well-equipped, refined to drive with the top down and has a big boot for extended holidays.

7: Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet

Used Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet 2010-2017

Pros
Well equipped
Low levels of wind buffeting with roof down
Decent boot for a convertible

Cons
Some models have pricey tax bills
Not the sharpest to drive
Rear seat space not as good as some rivals

6: Mini Convertible

Used Mini Convertible 2009 - 2015

The Mini is one of the more accessible convertibles on the market, with some of the lowest prices of the lot. But, of course, that’s because it’s also one of the smallest, and while it’s a full four-seater, space in the back is pretty tight. That said, if you can live with that, those compact dimensions also mean it’s very easy to drive around town.

With excellent build quality, great looks and some of the most fun driving dynamics around – not to mention a choice of impressively efficient engines – the Mini is a compelling cabrio.

6: Mini Convertible

Used Mini Convertible 2009 - 2015

Pros
Nice to drive
Rather efficient
Strong image

Cons
Some diesel reliability issues
Very small boot
Rear visibility

5: Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

Golf Cabriolet

You can’t knock the value offered by the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet. Soft suspension makes it comfortable, but it still handles tidily, and in the case of the rip-roaring R model, it goes like stink too.

Inside, there’s a solidly built interior and all the controls are easy to find. What’s more, there’s plenty of space up front and a reasonable amount in the rear, and there's a huge choice of engines to pick from. In other words, if you want the most sensible convertible out there, this is probably it.

5: Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet interior

Pros
Good range of engines
Neat handling
Roof quick to lower or raise

Cons
Stiff ride in some versions
Not incredibly exciting to drive

4: BMW Z4

Used BMW Z4 Sports (09 - 17)

It’s one of the sleekest convertibles around, but the BMW Z4 doesn’t quite have the ride or handling to challenge the best in this class. As long as you avoid the M Sport models, you’ll be comfortable enough, and the sharp steering and grippy nose mean it’s still a fun car to drive.

The Z4 looks fantastic and comes with a superb range of punchy engines. Right now it’s looking like great value as a used buy, with prices well below those of many of its rivals. Make sure it comes with a full service history and check the alloy wheels for cracks because replacements are expensive.

4: BMW Z4

Used BMW Z4 Sports (09 - 17)

Pros
Folding metal roof
Large choice of engines
Nice interior

Cons
Small boot with the roof down
M Sport suspension is uncomfortably firm
Not as exciting to drive as some rivals

3: Audi A3 Cabriolet

Used Audi A3 Cabriolet 14-present

A high purchase price is the only reason the Audi A3 Cabriolet didn’t finish higher up our list. Otherwise, it’s a cracking all-rounder, offering the same sublime balance between ride and handling as any hard-top A3. The 1.4-litre TFSI is our favourite because it blends excellent performance with impressive economy.

You get a gorgeous interior that’s beautifully designed, an impressively big boot for a car of this type, and enough room in the back for two adults at a push. If you can stretch to it, it’s one of the best used convertibles out there. Make sure the hood mechanism works as it should and that the infotainment screen comes out of the dashboard without creaking.

3: Audi A3 Cabriolet

Used Audi A3 Cabriolet 14-present

Pros
Beautifully finished interior
Ride and handling balance
Well equipped

Cons
Sport and S Line are more refined than SE cars
Poor rear room
Optional automatic is jerky

2: Audi TT Roadster

Used Audi TT Roadster (15-present)

You might be surprised to find out how cheap the third-generation Audi TT is these days. In fact, considering how good it is to drive, we’d say it’s something of a bargain. Pick a petrol engine for a sportier drive or a diesel for fuel economy – both are available – and enjoy agile handling, quick, direct steering, and, on higher-spec models, the grip and traction of four-wheel drive.

True, you’ll have to make do with two seats – but if that’s all you need and you want a premium feel, the TT is about the best there is. Check with the previous owner if you can that diesel models have been taken out on the motorway regularly because fixing diesel particulate filter (DPF) issues can be expensive and time-consuming.

2: Audi TT Roadster

Used Audi TT Roadster (15-present)

Pros
Fabulous interior
Crisp handling
Efficient engines

Cons
Stingy equipment
Some wind noise at speed
Not the cheapest convertible

1: Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5 Open (05 - 15)

OK, so you probably won’t pick a Mazda MX-5 if practicality is a prime requirement. But if you can live with just two seats, there’s little to dislike here. The MX-5 is great fun to drive, as you might expect, but it’s also cheap to buy and run, and extremely reliable.

Its compact dimensions make it great around town but it never feels out of its depth on a motorway and the soft suspension gives it a brilliant ride. There’s even enough room in the boot for two decent-sized overnight bags. As long as you make sure the MX-5 you’re looking at has been treated to regular servicing, you’ll have a reliable and fun little sports car.

1: Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5 Open (05 - 15)

Pros
Great to drive
Neat roof
Excellent reliability

Cons
Limited boot space

So that's the best convertibles - what about the one to avoid? Read on:

Audi A5 Cabriolet

Used Audi A5 Cabriolet 2009 - 2017

Poor body stiffness means the Audi A5 Cabriolet shudders and groans over larger bumps, and it’s insipid to drive. 

Related cars

Spinner