Top 10 Convertibles

By Russell Bray Published

convertible | advice | top 10 | Top 10 category guides


Britain’s love-hate relationship with the weather makes us really appreciate it when the sun is shining... so perhaps that’s why we buy so many convertibles.

Most of the time we don’t get the extremes of temperature in which you would have to be Mad Dog or Englishman to drive around topless.

And coming out of a hot office or workplace, what’s cooler than dropping the roof on your drive home and taking in the extra sights and sounds you only get with a ragtop?

Bad weather drops the prices of convertibles but only for a while and fails to stop our love affair with the open air.

And sales show that once you have taken the plunge and bought a convertible your next car will be one too.

Here we list the Sun Motors Top 10 convertible cars. We've included our expert's ratings and reader ratings. We also want to know which of these motors you think is the best. So get voting, and we'll print the results in Sun Motors in the coming weeks.

More Top 10 guides:  City - Electric - Hatchback - Saloon - MPV - 4x4 - Crossover - Estate Sport - Convertible

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BMW 3 Series Cabriolet

Sun rating: 4/5
Verdict: Sophisticated and classy with added benefit of fresh air motoring on demand
  • BMW image and quality
  • Still a real driver’s car
  • You need a good garage to keep on top of the complex systems
  • Any repair or maintenance work doesn’t come cheap

Read the full BMW 3 Series review

BMW’s compact 3-Series still delivers a great drive even in convertible form where substantial body strengthening is needed to make up for the absence of a roof.

You can feel the weight and because it dulls the performance a powerful six-cylinder engined model is the best choice.

Going petrol is preferable to diesel because you hear that diesel rattle with the roof down and sometimes smell the fuel.

With the wind-breaker in place behind the front seats motoring is pretty much buffet free, but if you want to take two friends in the back seats it will get a bit blowy.

The model has just been replaced by the renamed 4-Series so go for a car between 2007 and 2013.

Watch out for: Big 19in wheels get cracked by speed bumps, coil and injector faults on petrol engine, turbocharger failures on diesels. Go for standard steering. Active steering can be upset by very cold weather.

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Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

Sun rating: 4/5
Verdict: Few compromises for a sunnier lifestyle.
  • Good to drive and live with
  • Strong image means will hold its value
  • Rear seat legroom isn’t generous
  • Go for the Eos Coupe if you want a folding metal roof

Read the full Volkswagen Golf review

Convertible fans were delighted in 2011 when the Golf Convertible returned after a nine-year break.

Based on the Golf Mark 6, the hatchback is now Mk 7, the convertible is remarkably refined.

It has a quick folding fabric roof and space for four adults, though luggage room is more suited to two. You can fold the rear seat backs for longer loads if you are only two up.

The styling is typically understated. Some cars will be dressed up with fancy wheels or roofs in contrasting colour to the body.

Popular 1.4 TSI turbocharged petrol engine in lower power output should deliver 35 to 40mpg. Avoid noisy 1.6 litre diesel.

Roof down you can hold a conversation at 70mph and roof up there’s not much more wind noise than with the hatchback.

Watch out for: Damp smelling car could mean roof or door seal problems. Turbo diesel engine oil seals vulnerable.

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Vauxhall Astra Convertible

Verdict line: Italian style at Vauxhall prices.
Sun rating: 4/5
  • Impressive style and quality for the price
  • Reliability is good thanks to well proven mechanicals.
  • Vauxhall has killed off the model and isn’t planning to replace it
  • New Cascada is a much bigger car

Read the full Vauxhall Astra review

The Astra Convertible is one of the least expensive ways to get open topped motoring for four with good seats and a good size boot.

Styled by Bertone it has Italian good looks and comes loaded with kit including alloy wheels, air conditioning and a good stereo system and CD player.

The car is refined at speed with the roof up and wind buffeting well controlled at lower speeds.

There is some body shake on poor roads and it pays to avoid potholes.

Roof can be opened/closed using a button on the remote control central locking keying transmitter.

There are no diesel options. The 99bhp 1.6 is flat and the 1.8 lacklustre so go for 144bhp 2.2 litre for a more spirited drive.

Watch out for: Check engine timing belt changed every 40,000 miles.

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Audi TT Roadster

Verdict: A great drive. Manual gearbox best.
Sun rating: 4/5
  • Just oozes sheer style
  • Fresh air motoring for two doesn’t come much better than this
  • Many maintenance jobs require special tools so beware big bills from dealers
  • Tiny boot

Read the full Audi TT review

Audi’s iconic TT looks just as good as a roadster as it does as a hardtop but you lose those occasional rear seats and the boot is small than that of a Mercedes-Benz SLK.

The TT was replaced in 2007 after a ten year run but you need to be up on your Audi lore to spot the differences.

There’s a choice of two petrol engines, 1.8 or 2-litres, or a turbo diesel. The petrols suit the car better, especially if you are going to mainly drive around town.

You can get the TT with manual or automatic transmission and front- or four-wheel drive.

The interiors are fabulous and stylish.

Watch out for: Engines not idling smoothly. Cam belt and water pump changed at 60,000 miles. Instruments not working.

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Audi A5 Cabriolet

Sun rating: 3.5/5
Verdict: Brightens your day and makes you look good
  • Lots of street presence but not too flash
  • Premium badge but well priced
  • Strong second hand values
  • Scores below average in some reliability surveys

Read the full Audi A5 Cabriolet review

Audi effectively replaced its popular A4 Cabriolet in 2009 with the bigger and more stylish A5, but the usual plus and minus points remain.

It really is a great looker with a super luxurious cabin Ferrari and Maserati convertibles can’t even match. And though it shakes and shimmies on bad roads when a more rigid hard topped car wouldn’t, it paradoxically feels really solid and well made.

For quieter motorway journeys the (optional on cheaper models) acoustic folding fabric roof makes a big difference.

The ride is far too hard on the S-line suspension. Rear seats are cramped.

It’s vague to drive compared to a BMW 3-Series.

Watch out for: Make sure engine does not overheat. Early 2-litre TSI petrol cars had excessive oil consumption. Ignition coil failures. Air conditioning can go wrong.

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Jaguar XK Convertible

Sun rating: 3.5/5
Verdict: A lovely way to travel if you can afford it
  • Poise and performance
  • Antique looking touch screens go wrong (£1,400 to replace)
  • Instrument packs go wrong (£1.600 to replace)

Jags are notorious for dropping in value and that depreciation when someone else has discovered the running costs can make them good used buys.

The XK, even after its last facelift, is more elegant and less show-off and shouty than the new F-type.

Its classic 4.2 litre V8 engine was replaced in 2009 with a new 380bhp 5-litre V8 but despite claimed greater efficiency you will struggle to better 25mpg if you start using the performance.

This fantastic engine sounds even better with the roof down.

If you want a temporary facelift from the acceleration there are also supercharged versions with 503bhp and a scary 542bhp.

Front seats are rather narrow and rear ones only suitable for coats/bags.

The ride is firm but well damped.

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Peugeot 207 Coupe Cabriolet

Verdict line: Stylish, affordable and fun

Watch out for: Corrosion on bottoms of doors. Check roof operates correctly. Make sure the stability control systems are working before you unleash that power.

Sun rating: 3/5
  • Good looking
  • Strong demand keeps used prices up
  • Better built than predecessor 206CC
  • Some electrical faults
  • Big doors drop on hinges

Read the full Peugeot 207 review

Peugeot followed up its clever folding metal roof on the 206CC with more of the same on the dynamically superior, more spacious and more fun to drive 207.

With an award-winning 156bhp 1.6 litre turbocharged petrol engine jointly developed with BMW and a classy cabin, the French car was affordable and stylish.

If you don’t need so much dash there’s a 1.6VTi motor. The 1.6 HDi diesel delivers similar performance.

There’s plenty of cornering grip but the ride gets crashy over bad surfaces. Rear seat legroom is tight and boot space is greatly reduced with the top down.

Watch out for: Rattles from the rear. Gear change in need of adjustment.

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Mini Convertible

Mini Convertible
Verdict: Adds a new element of fun to Mini motoring
Sun rating: 3/5
  • Great fun on the right day on the right road
  • Second generation has lower exhaust emissions than first
  • Retro styling not to all tastes
  • Not as bullet proof as you might expect/hope
  • These big Minis never as much fun to drive as original tiny one

Read the full Mini Convertible review

People love their Mini Convertibles so that keeps prices high. But it’s definitely a car you buy with your heart not your head because it is even less practical than the space-challenged hardtop.

There are sports cars with more boot space and the rear seats are only suitable for very small children, coats or bags.

You lose some of the Mini handling agility too because  the extra body strengthening adds weight and means different suspension settings. Roof up, the cabin feels pretty claustrophobic.

Revamped 2009 models are prettier, have pop-up roll bars in the event of a roll-over crash. Petrol engines improved in 2010. Best-selling Cooper gets 122bhp.

Watch out for: Cracked windscreens (thin glass like some BMWs). Listen for rattling timing chain (failure would ‘blow’ engine). Important oil level is kept correct.

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Mercedes-Benz SLK Roadster

Verdict: Lots of showroom appeal, less good on road
Sun rating: 3/5
  • Good looks, luxury cabin
  • Still plenty of room for improvement
  • Four-cylinder engines crude

When it comes to boulevard cruisers Mercedes-Benz pretty much has it licked with the SLK although there have been some dull engines and clunky gearboxes in some versions over the years.

The third generation of the two-seater was launched in 2011 with more aggressive styling. Naturally its clever, folding, metal roof remained along with the ‘air scarf’ blower which keeps your neck warm.

There were though, much needed improvements with a better quality cabin and a bigger boot.

Previously leaden dynamics were also sharpened up but don’t try keeping up with a BMW Z4 or a Porsche Boxster on twisty roads. The diesel feels/sounds rough.

Watch out for: No major mechanical issues reported.

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Renault Megane Coupe Cabriolet

Verdict: Classy looks. Versatile. Well built.
Sun rating: 2/5
  • Two good looking cars for the price of one
  • Boot space nearly halves with the roof down. .
  • More powerful versions are flexy fliers on bumpy roads

Read the full Renault Megane review

If your family are Transformers’ fans then the only convertible for you is Renault’s Megane Coupe Cabriolet.

How the engineers make all that glass fold away is amazing and for a change here’s a cabrio which also draws envious glances with the roof up.

It’s a relaxed drive rather than a sporty one and some drivers will feel the weight of all that glass and the underbody strengthening which still isn’t enough to stop the body flexing on a bad road.

You do get lots of standard kit though – alloy wheels, cruise control, Bluetooth, hands free key card and a built-in TomTom satellite navigation system.

Renault downsized the engines in 2012 with the new 1.3 litre petrol and 1.5 and 1.6 diesels. Of the earlier line-up the 1.4 petrol or the 1.9 diesel are the best bets.

Back seats are best for children.

Watch out for: Electric windows fail. Ignition coils and starter motors can be dodgy. Headlamp bulbs blow.

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More Top 10 guides:  City - Electric - Hatchback - Saloon - MPV - 4x4 - Crossover - Estate Sport - Convertible
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