Top convertible cars to buy in 2021

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By Car Brand Experts

​​We may have less-than-optimal weather for them most of the time, but Britain still loves a convertible car. More drop-tops are sold in the UK than in most other European countries and there’s lots of people out there who’d love to own one of the best convertibles on the market.

Variously known as cabriolets, roadsters or convertibles, roofless car models have come a long way from the soft-topped examples of the not too distant past. Today, many open-top cars offer similar levels of refinement and security to their fixed-roof counterparts – especially when fitted with a metal folding roof.

From affordable sports cars, such as the Mazda MX-5, to top-end Italian supercars like the Ferrari 296 GTS, there’s a wide variety of car types that offer open-sky motoring. There have even been convertible SUVs, such as the Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet, but none of those make our best convertible cars list.

The best convertibles and cabriolets to buy 

The choice is certainly broad, perhaps surprisingly so. In order to help you choose the best one to buy, we’ve rounded up the ten best convertible cars on sale today and listed them in reverse order…

10.  MG Cyberster

After a hiatus of over ten years, MG has finally brought its iconic octagonal badge back to the sports car sector. Don’t go thinking that this is just a brief nostalgia trip, either, as the Cyberster is an all-new fully-electric car

This zero-emission powertrain means the Cyberster keeps things sensible when it comes to running costs, and the 77kWh battery has a claimed maximum range of well over 300 miles. It certainly isn’t boring to drive, though, as MG’s roadster feels nimble and direct whenever you aim towards a corner. When it comes to power, the single rear-mounted motor produces 335bhp and 475Nm of torque, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds.

9. BMW Z4

With three generations now under its belt, the BMW Z4 has been a great success story for the German car maker. While the previous model was a bit of a boulevardier with its folding metal hardtop, the latest version has a traditional feel once more thanks to its canvas soft-top. Format and fun-factor aside, there’s not much else that’s traditional about the Z4; it has sharp contemporary styling and efficient, powerful engines that offer solid levels of performance.

While the Z4 in any guise is not as nimble as some rivals, it’s still a great deal of fun to drive and guaranteed to put a smile on your face. All versions are well-equipped too, with 18-inch alloys, Live Cockpit infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, cruise control and LED headlights standard across the range.

8. Porsche 911 Cabriolet

Buyers looking for the sharpest handling four-seat convertible should look no further than the Porsche 911 Cabriolet. The price is high – entry-level models will set you back over £107k – but this car is as good to drive as the 911 coupe and, with the flick of a switch, the fabric roof folds in 13 seconds, even at speeds of up to 35mph.

Several 911 variants are available with a rag-top, including the Carrera 4 GTS. This version will propel you from 0-62mph in under four seconds and boasts a top speed of 191mph, so it sits firmly in supercar territory. When it comes to ownership, Porsche always performs well as a brand in our Driver Power satisfaction survey, so the experience should be a pleasant and drama-free one.

7. Chevrolet Corvette Convertible

The C8 Corvette is a far more sophisticated machine than its ancestors, so much so that it can safely be regarded as a fully-fledged supercar. It still has a V8 heart, but this is now mid-mounted for better weight distribution. The eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox is also on par with Porsche’s renowned PDK system. 

Perhaps most crucially, though, the Corvette now looks like a proper supercar, and opting for the convertible means you can feel the wind in your hair while blasting onto a top speed of 184mph. You’ll also save a small fortune compared to its European rivals, too.

6. Fiat 500C

  • Prices from £28,000
  • Best for efficiency

Over the years, the Fiat 500 has evolved into a fully-electric city car, but it still retains plenty of the original model’s retro charm. It’s far from old-school when it comes to tech, though, as it features level 2 autonomous driving – this means it can automatically adjust acceleration and braking while staying in the correct lane. There’s plenty of standard on-board kit, too, and opting for the 500C adds a full-length retractable canvas roof to the mix.  

While the little, all-electric Fiat, with its zippy and near-silent drivetrain, is at its best on city streets, it will also take on long motorway journeys without feeling out of its depth. Fiat says the 500C can cover up to 191 miles when fully charged, while a 10 to 80 per cent top-up takes around 35 minutes from most DC rapid chargers. 

5. Bentley Continental GTC

Another money-no-object convertible, the Bentley Continental GTC is devoted to delivering the most luxurious open-top driving experience possible. Opulent, finely crafted and full of the very latest technology, Bentley’s new-age interior design is a marvel. As befitting of a grand tourer, the cabin remains exceptionally hushed at high speeds – despite the fabric roof. 

Gaining speed is just as effortless as the way the air suspension soaks up all imperfections in the road, because the Continental GTC is available with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that packs up to 542bhp and 770Nm of muscle. Until April this year, it can even be had with a 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 that delivers a phenomenal 650bhp and 900Nm of torque in its most potent form.  

4. Porsche 718 Boxster

While hardcore fans of Porsche’s entry-level cabriolet probably still aren’t pleased with the decision to fit the latest version with a flat-four engine, there’s no denying that the 718 Boxster is supremely fun to drive. The mid-engined layout means the Boxster feels beautifully balanced mid-corner, plus it changes direction with acrobatic agility. 

Yes, the engine is less characterful than the brand’s signature flat-six found in focused variants such as the GTS, but it makes up for it with blistering performance and decent efficiency. There’s a choice of a six-speed manual or Porsche’s excellent seven-speed PDK automatic gearbox; both are a joy to use. The Boxster’s interior also feels beautifully made.

3. Ferrari 296 GTS

  • Price from £279,000
  • Best for performance

If money’s no object and you want nothing but the most thrilling wind-in-your-hair driving experience, then the Ferrari 296 GTS is the drop-top supercar we’d recommend. 

A Ferrari roadster without a V8 engine might sound sacrilegious to some, but instead the 296 GTS features a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 that produces an exhaust note so sonorous that we feel it lives up to the “piccolo V12” moniker the company bestowed upon it. 

It’s part of a 819bhp plug-in hybrid powertrain, with every ounce of power being sent to the rear wheels, and 0-62mph dispatched in a mere 2.9 seconds. The 296 GTS delivers all the theatre and thrills of a true Ferrari, with the added bonus of a 16-mile electric range for when you’re pottering around quiet Italian towns.

2. Mazda MX-5

  • Price from £28,000
  • Best value for money

The latest Mazda MX-5 looks sharp and modern, but it’s actually something of a blast from the past. That’s because affordable rear-wheel-drive, two-seat convertibles have all but disappeared from today’s car market. It doesn’t take long for the MX-5 to prove why it’s been so popular over the past 30-plus years, because the blend of modest power, nimble chassis and sublime manual gearbox provides an education in car handling and plenty of thrills. 

Even so, the everyday usability and stellar reliability mean it’s capable of being more than a summertime plaything. An added bonus of the MX-5 being so light is claimed fuel efficiency of up to nearly 45mpg, which is handy because Mazda’s sports car has a tiny 45-litre fuel tank.

1. MINI Convertible

As the recipient of our Convertible of the Year award for the past six years, the MINI Convertible boasts an unparalleled winning streak for several reasons. It’s delightfully fun to drive for one thing – as all MINIs should be – with its rowdy exhaust note, well weighted steering and terrific range of turbocharged engines. 

You also appreciate the almost flawless interior that’s well built and features a top-notch infotainment system. Plus, unlike a traditional two-seater, the drop-top MINI gets a rear bench. We wouldn’t recommend using the seats to carry anyone but very small children back there, mind you, but the extra space they provide is ideal for your luggage on a trip down to the coast for a long weekend. 

Best convertibles and cabriolets 2024

  1. MINI Convertible
  2. Mazda MX-5
  3. Ferrari 296 GTS
  4. Porsche 718 Boxster
  5. Bentley Continental GTC
  6. Fiat 500C
  7. Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
  8. Porsche 911 Cabriolet
  9. BMW Z4
  10. MG Cyberster

Britain’s love of convertibles

If you’ve ever wondered why rainy old Britain is one of Europe’s hot spots for convertible sales, it’s partly because it’s not too hot. Driving roof-down in sunnier climes can be a recipe for sweltering sticky car seats and sunburn, but here in the UK we combine an often dreary climate with occasional balmy summers. Even the UK’s generally mild spring and autumn can offer delightful opportunities for driving roofless, when it can be a genuinely exhilarating experience to waft along accompanied by the twitter of birdsong and the risk of an occasional cloudburst.

We Brits have always been outdoorsy in our transport choices, and at the dawn of motoring it was simply natural to continue where horses and open carriages left off. Early Rolls-Royce and Bentley models were typically open to the elements with phaeton and landaulette bodies from coachbuilders of old.

It wasn’t just the exotics either. Throughout the twentieth century marques such as MG, Austin Healey and Triumph made hay out of the British love affair with open sports cars, when light weight and agility were key to the best performance.

Nowadays, even the best convertibles tend to be considered less sporting than their coupe brethren by purist drivers, largely because a unibody with a roof is typically more rigid than a roadster. That means better suspension control, and ultimately faster cornering potential – although some brands like McLaren, with their super-rigid carbon fibre body tubs, would beg to differ.

Which convertible should you choose?

McLaren and fellow supercar makers like Aston Martin, Ferrari and Lamborghini sit at the top of the convertible tree, but there are a multitude of options available to open-air enthusiasts at all budget levels.

At the other end of the scale there’s a vast range of convertible models based on superminis, hatchbacks, coupes and saloons. Thanks to the demand for SUV and crossover models, you can even get a convertible version of the Volkswagen T-Roc – proving that demand for convertibles isn’t confined to drivers with sporting aspirations.

That’s not to say sporty drivers aren’t well served with convertible options, of course. There’s a vast array of fabulous open-topped sports cars available, from the Audi R8 Spyder to the BMW Z4. And how could we forget the near iconic Mazda MX-5 or even the Caterham 7?

There’s also a strong contingent of premium four-seaters like the Audi A5, and even for drivers on a tighter budget the Fiat 500 city car offers a canvas roof that folds back.

Our round-up of the best convertibles isn’t a true top ten list, because the sheer diversity on offer means not all of these cars can be fairly compared. Instead it’s our pick of the cars that will give you the wind-in-the-hair thrills of open-top motoring, while still delivering everyday usability that means they’re no hardship to run. And who knows? Some of these cars are so effective at keeping the cabin warm on a cold day that you could consider lowering the roof when it’s cold outside.

Now read our list of the best sports cars

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Shane is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2021, he worked as a radio producer and presenter for outlets such as the BBC.

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