The UK remains one of the world’s most receptive markets for open-top cars. Explaining why has always been tricky. Is it because of our changeable climate? Or is it simply that we’re a nation of car lovers and there’s no better way to enjoy driving than with the roof down?
Whatever the reason, the choice we have when it comes to cabriolets and convertible cars remains pretty broad. Among the sports cars, compact cars, grand tourers, mid-engined supercars and others, nobody in the UK could claim to be starved of options.
Our list here covers the full spectrum of convertible and cabriolets, but all of them share an ability to be used every day. That means we’ve left out the hardcore lightweight specials with a Heath Robinson roof mechanism and the hardcore hypercars that are more targa-tops than true roadsters.
Some cars here are more affordable, others more exotic and expensive - but all are a great way to enjoy the elements. All have the ability to invigorate beyond the sum of their parts, as each one can turn an ordinary journey into a moment to savour.
If you haven’t experienced open top motoring before, you really should, and any one of these machines could prove the perfect introduction.
1. Mazda MX-5
Pros: It's affordable, usable, easy to convert and supreme fun to drive.
Cons: It's a bit of a squeeze for two occupants and has limited luggage space.
There’s a reason why the Mazda MX-5 is the world’s best-selling roadster. Actually, there are many. Nearly 35 years after the original made its debut, the compact Japanese two-seater continues to serve-up affordable driving fun and represents one of the quickest as easy ways to enjoy good weather at the drop of a hat (or roof).
A large part of the MX-5’s appeal lies in its traditional front-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout, which continues to serve up agile, engaging, throttle adjustable handling.
Then there’s the fact that it fits in largely the same compact footprint as its 1989 great-grandfather and weighs around 1000kg. Few driver’s cars feel as lithe and right-sized on the road.
It also means that even the entry-level 130bhp 1.5-litre car feels zingy enough, although the more muscular 181bhp 2.0-litre model gets firmer suspension, a strengthening strut brace and a limited-slip differential.
Then there’s the manual fabric roof, which can be flipped down in seconds with one hand and raised just as easily when the weather closes in, without you leaving the car. It’s a brilliantly simple design.
For those looking for a little extra security and comfort, the MX-5 RF features a powered folding hard top. Whichever version you choose, the MX-5 is perfectly placed to make the best of the sunshine.