Best used convertibles 2022
If it’s open-top thrills that you’re after, the best used convertibles offer incredible value for money
Despite our notoriously unreliable weather, convertible cars are incredibly popular in the UK, which perhaps suggests the British sense of optimism is alive and well. When the sun does shine, a used convertible car is one of the best and most reasonably priced ways to make the most of it.
Convertible cars can be versatile and appeal to many drivers. Roadsters, cabriolets and drop-tops are good fun, and the ability to go roofless means that in many cases they can feel like owning two cars in one.
Many of the used convertible cars in this list push the practicality even further, making them even more desirable. Convertible roofs have come a long way, and clever engineering means many can fold away without stealing too much interior or boot space, so there’s enough room for your luggage and passengers’ legs
We’ve rounded up our favourite used convertibles to show you exactly how strong your options are…
Best used convertible cars
- Mazda MX-5
- BMW 4 Series Convertible
- Ford StreetKA
- MINI Convertible
- Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet
- Audi TT Roadster
- Audi A5 Cabriolet
- Porsche Boxster
1. Mazda MX-5 (Mk4) - Used Convertible of the Year
- Our pick: Mazda MX-5 1.5 SE-L (2015/65, 68k miles, £12,920)
When it comes to combining wind-in-the-hair thrills with rock-bottom bills, few cars can match the MX-5. Brilliant to drive, affordable to buy and laughably cheap to run, this is a roadster that won’t lead to financial ruin. And with prices now slipping below the £9,000 mark, the current fourth-generation machine is the most desirable of the lot.
Underpinning the Mazda’s appeal are its engaging driving dynamics that make every journey a moment to savour. The blend of nimble and adjustable rear-wheel-drive handling and relatively skinny tyres means you can enjoy the MX-5 at any speed, while the wrist-flick action of the six-speed manual gearbox encourages you to change ratios just for the hell of it. The bigger 2.0-litre engine serves up strong performance, but the smaller 129bhp 1.5-litre unit revs more sweetly and has all the pace you’ll need, plus the promise of 47.1mpg.
Few drop-tops give you such easy access to the elements, either. The manual fabric roof can be raised or lowered in seconds with one hand, so you’ll have no problem dealing with the UK’s unpredictable weather. The powered folding hard-top on RF models takes a little longer, but it offers coupé-like refinement and security when in place.
Regardless of which roof you choose, you’ll get the same smart cabin. Taller occupants will find their heads brushing the ceiling, but a wide range of seat and wheel adjustment (on later models) means getting comfy won’t be a problem. Relatively soft suspension means it rides well, too, which in combination with the light controls and the brand’s reputation for good reliability means the MX-5 is as happy on the daily commute as it is being used for holidays.
There’s also a decent haul of standard kit, but SE-L cars and above get better tech and connectivity. The only niggles are a lack of storage and a cramped 130-litre boot. However, the MX-5’s ability to raise a smile every time you get behind the wheel means you’ll be happy to pack light.
The MX-5 is a great convertible not just because of the folding roof, but also because it can convert from a thrilling sports car to a comfortable daily driver. The engines are economical and bring plenty of performance because the Mazda is really light, at just over a tonne. This has all sorts of benefits, and means tyres and brakes don’t wear quickly, while road tax isn’t much, so running costs are as affordable as the asking price.
BuyaCar finance options
Who says sports cars need to be expensive? This MX-5 has a low cash price of less than £13,000 along with monthly payments of £249 on a four-year hire purchase deal after a £3,000 deposit. That means your overall spend after four years would be £14,956. At that price, no new drop-top – and very few new cars of any kind – can come close; especially not one that delivers such a thrilling driving experience.
2. BMW 4 Series Convertible (Mk1)
If you fancy drop-top motoring but don’t want to leave the family behind, then the Mk1 4 Series is hard to beat. There’s space for four inside, while the folding metal hard-top allows you to choose between fresh-air thrills or coupé comfort at the touch of a button. Well balanced rear-wheel-drive handling, top-notch quality and a wide range of petrol and diesel engines only add to the appeal.
3. Ford StreetKa (Mk1)
Our left-field choice proves that you don't need an expensive holiday to do a spot of sunbathing, because the Ford StreetKa will allow you to top up your tan for less than a grand. The funky-looking Ford’s soft-top can be lowered in seconds, while the quick steering and nimble handling make it a hoot to drive. It’s mechanically strong, too, although you’ll need to keep a wary eye out for rust.
4. MINI Convertible (Mk3)
It’s been on sale for a good few years, but thanks to a number of updates the MINI Convertible remains a firm favourite. A bewildering array of personalisation options is available, so choose a car that you like the look of, but it’s hard to look beyond a £10,000 Cooper for all-round appeal.
The first examples of the current, third-generation car arrived on these shores in 2014. A range of turbocharged, three-cylinder engines were offered in addition to the four-cylinder, 192bhp unit in the Cooper S. The range has simplified since then, with the diesel variant no longer available.
Automatic gearboxes have always been optional, but the six-speed manuals work best if it’s a fun, engaging drive that you’re after. It’s often been said that the MINI handles like a go kart in corners, and this remains true of the Convertible despite losing the rigidity that comes with having a fixed roof.
The entry-level One trim doesn’t bring much in the way of kit, so we’d recommend getting a Cooper-badged model at the very least. Check that air-con is included too, as this had to be specced as a no-cost option when new.
5. Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet (Mk1)
If you want a drop-top that’s comfortable on the move, then look no further than the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet. It’s the smallest four-seat convertible that Mercedes makes, replacing the CLK Convertible in this section of the car market when it arrived in 2016.
The chassis has been stiffened in order to compensate for the absence of the hard-top roof, and as a result the Convertible is almost as composed when it comes to handling as the coupe. The steering is direct and while the C-Class doesn’t corner as sharply as some rivals, the excellent levels of refinement make this a car for leisure rather than sport.
There’s a range of engines to choose from, but the most popular is the entry level C 220 d diesel, which achieves almost 50mpg on the latest WLTP test cycle; an impressive figure for a car of this scope. As is the case with most convertibles, there’s some extra wind noise caused by the fabric roof, but it doesn’t intrude into the cabin too much.
6. Audi TT Roadster (Mk3)
It might have the reputation of being a car driven by hairdressers, but the Audi TT Roadster has the qualities of a miniature supercar: it combines aggressive sporty looks with staggering performance in some guises, and the soft-top only adds to the thrills.
Early versions of the current-generation car include a 2.0-litre diesel capable of 65.7mpg on paper, with the 1.8-litre, 178bhp and 2.0-litre, 227bhp units sat either side. The 306bhp TTS model briefly topped the range prior to the arrival of the TT RS in 2016, which packed a mighty 394bhp from its 2.5-litre engine. In this guise, the TT Roadster could manage 0-62mph in under four seconds on its way to a top speed of 170mph.
At that speed you could do with a hairdresser to sort out your windswept barnet, although at conventional velocities the TT Roadster is largely very refined. There’s some wind and road noise as you’d expect, although you’ll be far more distracted by the disappointing ratio changes on examples with the manual gearbox: six-speed S tronic autos are much sharper in this department.
7. Audi A5 Cabriolet (Mk2)
Another convertible Audi worth considering is the A5 Cabriolet: it’s a bit more spacious and practical than the TT Roadster, although it doesn’t have quite the same credentials when it comes to outright performance.
Now in its second generation, this A5 Cabriolet first appeared in 2016, building on the success of its predecessor. A new platform reduced the weight of the car by some 40kg, although Audi still managed to make the A5 Cab 40 per cent stiffer too. The electric system for the fabric roof means it can collapse in 15 seconds and operates at speeds up to 31mph. Inside there’s plenty of room for four adults, while the 380-litre boot (320 litres with the roof down) is more generous than you’ll find in some family hatchbacks.
If the A5 Cabriolet falls short anywhere it’s on price, with new models costing more than a pretty penny. However, used examples aren’t held back by the heft of the price tag: 17-reg cars can be found for less than £18,000 these days, which is a lot of car for the money.
8. Porsche Boxster (Mk3)
The Porsche Boxster is one of the finest two-seater sports cars money can buy, rolling supreme performance and handling, stand-out styling and excellent build quality into one, ultra-desirable package. It’s been on the block for almost a quarter of a century, which means there’s a Boxster on the used-car market for virtually every budget.
The third-generation Boxster - replaced by the latest model in 2016 - was a stupendously good car to drive, with a chassis that turned cornering into something of an art form. Power came from a 2.7-litre engine producing 261bhp, with the Boxster S housing a 3.4-litre engine capable of 310bhp. A GTS model was soon added, bringing even more power to the party.
The interior was built to the highest standards, and well-kept examples will feel as luxurious now as they did when new. Both the manual and automatic gearboxes are great to use, so you can let personal preference dictate your choice here. Reliability has been strong over the years too: servicing is recommended every two years or 20,000 miles.
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