There are few motoring pleasures that can beat going roof down on a balmy summer's day. On the right road and in the right car your sense of enjoyment will be heightened by all the extra smells, sights and sounds that come as standard when you’re driving al fresco. In fact, lowering the hood in a convertible can improve almost any journey, day or night, hot or cold.
The good news is that convertibles come in all shapes and sizes, from fabric-topped superminis through to luxurious boulevardiers. Each one aims to inject a little extra stimulation into your daily drive by providing the opportunity to get up close and personal with the elements at the drop of a roof.
Our list here pretty much covers the full spectrum of convertible and cabriolets, but all of them share an ability to be used everyday. That means we’ve left out the hardcore lightweight specials with a Heath Robinson roof mechanism and the hardcore hypercars that are more targas than true roadsters.
What our top 10 also share is an 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 then you really should, and any one of these machines will prove the perfect introduction to going topless.
There’s a reason the Mazda MX-5 is the world’s best selling roadster. In fact, there are many. Nearly thirty-five years after the original made its debut, the compact Japanese two-seater continues to serve-up affordable driver 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 drive layout that serves-up agile, engaging and 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 feels zingy enough, although the more muscular 181bhp 2.0-litre gets firmer suspension, a strengthening strut brace and 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. For those looking for a little extra security and comfort then the RF version features a powered folding hardtop. Whichever you choose, the Mazda is perfectly placed to make the best of the sunshine.
Elsewhere, the MX-5 is pretty much as easy to live with as any Mazda, thanks to its light and precise controls, excellent build quality and low running costs. Yes the cabin is cosy and the boot is just 150-litres, but there’s enough space here to handle weekends away and enough refinement and comfort that the daily commute needn’t be a drag, particularly when the sun is shining.