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The best cars for open-top motoring

We are a nation that loves convertibles and it’s easy to see why. The wind-in-the-hair experience doesn’t get much better for those who enjoy driving.


The UK has always been a lover of convertibles and with the summer months upon us, now is a great time to get the roof down and enjoy smile-inducing motoring.

Even if you don’t own a soft top, now may be the perfect opportunity to buy one for this year as the weather warms up.

There are plenty of options to choose from on the used car market, whether it be a two-seater or a four, here is a guide to the very best that your money can get you.

Mazda MX-5

The MX-5 is a fun frisky little sports car. (Credit: Mazda Press UK)

Launched in 1989 and four generations later, the Mazda MX-5 is one of the best-selling and loveable convertibles around and it’s easy to see why.

Cheap to maintain, with bulletproof reliability and one of the best power-to-weight ratios of any car around, its rear-wheel-drive layout means it’s a favourite among driving enthusiasts. Plus, they also have a superb gearbox and whatever generation you go for, will be enormous fun to drive.

Just watch out for rust on first, second and third-generation models as UK roads can be harsh to their chassis over the winter months.

Lotus Elise

The Elise is a great track day car. (Credit: Lotus Media UK)

It may not be the most practical or easiest car to live with, but the recently discontinued Lotus Elise is still a firm favourite. Since the early 00s, the baby Lotus has come with a Toyota engine giving extra power and reliability. Still, not only that, it is like driving a go-kart on the road with razor-sharp handling and endless grip but it’s also a very light car making it fuel efficient.

However, the large sills you need to clamber over in order to get in and out of may become tiresome on a day-to-day basis and the lack of sound insulation and limited standard equipment may make the Elise look a little painful for daily use.

Honda S2000

The S2000 was Honda’s fiftieth birthday present to itself. (Credit: Honda Newsroom)

The Honda S2000 is one of those cars that will go down in history as one of the all-time greats. It was a direct rival to the BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster but came with a 2.0-litre VTEC engine that revved to 9,000 rpm and although you had to drive it hard to get the most out of it, that would just add to the fun factor of driving this car.

Also, as it’s a Honda, it comes with durability and reliability built in as standard, and while ultra-low mileage examples are now fetching higher money, there are still decent examples out there between the £10,000 to £15,000 price range.


The Z4 replaced the Z3 and rivals the S2000 and Boxster. (Credit: BMW Press Global)

The Z4 was released in 2002 as a direct replacement for the ageing Z3 and since then, the popular two-seater German sports has become a firm favourite among fans of the Bavarian brand.

A rear-wheel-drive and front engine layout gave a great chassis balance and unlike the model it replaced, came with meaty engine outputs with the smallest engine being a 2.0-litre petrol that produced 150bhp. There were also two straight-six engines available with a 2.5-litre with 192bhp and a bigger 3.0-litre with 265bhp.

Porsche Boxster

The Boxster has a perfect weight distribution. (Credit: Porsche Newsroom)

The old cliche of the poor man’s 911 should be overlooked because the Boxster has been one of the best all-round sports cars you can buy for years. They’re relatively affordable to buy and their mid-engine layout gives a perfect power-to-weight ratio, while also being great fun and being great to use in all weathers.

If you can find a Boxster S with the 3.2-litre flat-six engine, it’s also a guaranteed future classic as it offers more power than the standard 2.7-litre car.

BMW 4-Series Cabriolet

The 4-Series Convertible is a great all-rounder. (Credit: BMW Press Global)

The only four-seater on this list, but the way it drives and the fact that prices are more affordable now means that the 4-Series Cabriolet is a great alternative if you enjoy the wind-in-the-hair experience while carrying more passengers.

Even though it’s more of a cruising machine than a sports car, the 4-Series is a great car to use all year round as it has a metal-folding convertible which makes things more comfortable inside than with a soft-top convertible. If you can get hold of an M Sport version, not only does it give a sportier look with bigger wheels and more dynamic suspension, but it also gives you the best of both worlds of impressive driving dynamics with the practicality of a larger boot and back seats.

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