Best used hardtop convertibles

Seduced by the idea of dropping the roof in summer, but don't want to be shivering in winter? Try a sub-£30,000 folding hardtop convertible

Simon Ostler James Mills
Jul 13, 2020

Giving in to your sun-seeking sub-conscious? Summer months are upon us, and who can blame you for wanting to revel in the rays as much as possible. Driving a convertible car is undoubtedly the best way to go when the sun is shining in temperatures upwards of 30 degrees, but on the odd day when the rain is lashing down that canvas roof can feel a like something of a mistake. 

It would seem, then, that the only sensible option would be to buy a hardtop convertible. Driving with the roof up will turn these cars into perfectly capable coupes that feel and drive like the roof is a permanent fixture, while the wind-in-the-hair thrill of a traditional cabriolet is just the press of a button away.

All of the models featured here have mechanisms that drop the roof on the move electronically for that extra hint of luxury, not to mention convenience if you suddenly need to close the roof in a hurry when you're caught in a rainstorm.

We've done all the hard work for you, narrowing down five of the very best hardtop convertibles available to buy right now, with some great used car PCP finance deals available. With prices starting from just £200 per month or well under £15,000 on BuyaCar, you could find yourself with a hardtop convertible ready and waiting on your driveway.

Best hardtop convertibles

1. BMW 4 Series Convertible

Used deals from £14,500
Monthly finance from £219

The BMW 4 Series Convertible is the only four-seater option on this list, but that's not the only thing to set it apart. The coupe version is a truly thrilling car to drive, and taking the roof away only serves to heighten the excitement.

Let's start with those four seats. They're proper seats, at that, so nobody will be suffering from cramp should you choose to invite them along for the ride. Then in the back there’s a 370-litre boot that will hold more than a pair of his 'n her washbags.

Then there’s the engine range. If you prefer an efficient diesel engine, you can have it. Or if a potent, turbocharged six-cylinder petrol is your idea of the perfect way to make the most of the open road, these are available, too.

Our pick, however, is the 420i petrol - a smooth and efficient engine that makes for a great all-round performer. The electric roof adds a bit of weight to the 4 Series - so it's no super-agile sports car - but nevertheless it remains the best four-seat drop-top to drive.

BMW 4 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Mazda MX-5 RF

Used deals from £17,091
Monthly finance from £260

Had a bad day? The Mazda MX-5 RF can fix all that. This small and agile two-seat roadster can cheer anyone up in a matter of minutes. So if you're turned off by the prospect of the weighty BMW above, the MX-5 RF lets you have your hard-topped cake and eat it. Despite the metal roof, it remains light in weight, which in turn gives you a sense of connection with the road that you simply don't get from any other sports car that's as usable as this one.

The folding hardtop roof tucks away elegantly beneath the racy-looking rear deck, and the stiffer structure compared with the fabric-roofed MX-5 makes it slightly more precise and responsive around corners.

Therefore the only question on used car buyers’ minds should be which version to go for. There are three petrol engines in the range - a 1.5-litre and two versions of the larger 2.0-litre unit - and they’re all great. So don’t worry too much, because whichever you choose, you’ll have a ball.

MAZDA MX-5 RF BUYERS' GUIDE

3. BMW Z4

Used deals from £12,780
Monthly finance from £212

A new BMW Z4 has just hit the market - and it’s sorely missing one key ingredient - a folding hardtop. Luckily, the previous generation car did have one, and it was all the better for it.

This is the Z4 we'll be focusing on here, and it's one of the most well-rounded roadsters on this list. Long trips are never a chore, as the noise levels are pretty low. It still looks good too despite it's age, with a hint of some of BMW’s classic roadster design about it.

If you can afford it, stretch to the 30i or 35i models. They have a six-cylinder petrol engine that sounds almost as joyous as the birdsong you’ll enjoy as you meander along a leafy country lane. With plenty of power or tap they should satisfy more enthusiastic drivers, too.

4. Mercedes SLC

Used deals from £17,440
Monthly finance from £225

A Mercedes roadster is the perfect complement to a Hermès scarf, Prada sunglasses and Gucci handbag. Yet if you thought this would put it out of reach, think again. The SLC makes for a surprisingly affordable used car - especially on finance.

There are high-powered AMG models that you could indulge yourself with, but for our money the rather more humble SLC 200 is all drivers of this sort of roadster will ever need. It’s an eager, turbocharged petrol engine that has plenty of overtaking power but won’t guzzle fuel like it’s going out of fashion.

Talking of fashion, there really is no better looking car to roam around town in than this, perhaps except for the next entrant on this list.

MERCEDES SLC BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Mercedes SL

Used deals from £26,890
Monthly finance from £491

Just as John Lewis has its flagship store on Oxford Street, so Mercedes has the SL at the top of its roadster range. This is the pinnacle of engineering, style and sophistication, a car that is for those who appreciate the finer things in life and have no need to rush about the place driving as if their trousers are on fire.

Rest assured, Mercedes’ engineers have thought of everything with this car. The body is made from aluminium, to reduce weight and improve the drive. Its folding hardtop incorporates a glass roof panel, so you can feel like you’re experiencing the great outdoors even when it’s closed - but at the touch of a button the glass turns opaque, blocking out bright sun or prying eyes. Then there are the seat heaters for your neck and a windscreen washer system that won’t spray water into the cockpit when the roof’s open. Clever, huh?

All this does come at a cost, though. You can get an SL for less than £30,000, but you may have to wait a little to find a newer model for less than that price. A tourer rather than a sports car, by far and away the best version is the SL400. It has a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine that makes it nearly as quick as all the bigger-engined versions, but more frugal.

 

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