​Despite our notoriously unreliable weather, convertible cars are incredibly popular in the UK. With roadsters, cabriolets and even convertible SUVs up for grabs, there’s more variety out there than you may have first realised. Whatever your preference, though, choosing one of the best used convertibles on sale can be a great way to drop the price as well as the roof.

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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.

Our experts have tested every convertible that you can buy in the UK — in all sorts of weather conditions — and have rounded up the eight best used examples for your money. Read on to find these below.

Best used convertible cars to buy

  1. Mazda MX-5
  2. MINI Convertible
  3. Mercedes SLK
  4. BMW 4 Series Convertible
  5. Ford StreetKA
  6. Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet
  7. Audi TT Roadster
  8. Audi A5 Cabriolet

1. MINI Convertible (Mk3)

  • Our pick: 1.5 Cooper Classic (2018/68, 22k miles, £12,750)

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.

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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.

2. Mazda MX-5 (Mk4) 

The world’s best-selling roadster makes just as much sense second-hand as it does new. Its rear-wheel-drive layout delivers driver fun by the truckload, while there’s a choice of a traditional fabric roof or the RF folding hard-top. More importantly, the MX-5 is as reliable and cost-effective to run as a family hatch.

When it comes to combining wind-in-the-hair thrills with rock-bottom bills, few cars can match the MX-5. It’s affordable to buy and laughably cheap to run, making it a roadster that won’t lead to financial ruin. And with prices now slipping below the £10,000 mark, the current fourth-generation machine is the most desirable of the lot.

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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 over 45mpg.

3. Mercedes SLK (Mk2)

If you’re looking for a way to top up your tan on the cheap, then the second-generation SLK has a lot going for it. For starters, it looks smart and drives well, while its folding metal hard-top combines open-air entertainment and coupe-like refinement. With prices starting at less than £4,000, this one’s hard to resist.

4. BMW 4 Series Convertible (Mk1)

If you fancy drop-top motoring but don’t want to leave the family behind, 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 coupe 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.

5. 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. 

6. 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. This model replaced the CLK Convertible when it arrived in 2016.

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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 C-Class Coupe. The steering is direct and while it 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.

7. Audi TT Roadster (Mk3)

It may have started life as a bit of a fashion accessory, but the Audi TT Roadster has the qualities of a miniature supercar. The final petrol-powered TT 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.

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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.

8. 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.

The second-generation 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.

Now find out more about the best used cars you can buy

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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