Best cheap convertibles

Sunshine at a sparkling price: these are the best cheap convertibles that give you drop-top glamour for an affordable price

John Evans
May 26, 2022

Are you keen to make the most of the summer sun, should it ever arrive? Bag yourself a cheap convertible and you'll be basking in the rays all the way to your summer holiday destination. Convertibles cater to a very specific set of needs, in most cases they aren't particularly practical, but you won't get that sun-kissed feeling with anything else.

The number of gloriously sunny days may be limited in the UK, but even still, those few rays justify every penny you have to spend to get a convertible. You don’t even need that many pennies, as we’ve found a brilliant range of cheap convertibles - many available for less than £200 per month with a typical PCP finance quote.

The types of convertible in this price bracket range from the sleek but practical four-seat Vauxhall Cascada, to the fun-focused two-seater Fiat 124 Spider. There are also low budget options such as the DS 3 Cabrio and Smart ForTwo Cabrio, which could be yours for barely £100 per month in many cases.

The majority of the convertibles below come with a fabric roof, but you can find a metal-roofed car for this budget, too, with the more luxurious Mercedes SLK appearing below. A metal roof might seem like the perfect answer to all-season drop-top motoring, but all the cars on this list can survive winter weather in the UK – all you need to do is crank up the heater up once in a while.

Best cheap convertibles

1. DS 3 Cabrio

Best cheap convertible for low prices

Our pick DS 3 Cabrio 1.2 PureTech Connected Chic
Used deals Limited stock

'DS' used to be the name given to Citroen's more upmarket offerings, but it has long been a standalone brand. So if you look for an older Citroen DS 3 Cabrio, you'll get lower prices than for the more recent (but virtually identical) DS 3 Cabrio.

These models are based upon the Citroen DS 3 and DS 3 hatchback respectively, so have five seats and a reasonable size boot. Rather than folding up or down, its canvas roof slides on roof-mounted rails either halfway, to the rear window or down on top of the boot lid, where it sits folded.

Regardless of the position it’s in, the window frames remain in place so viewed from the side, these models look like a conventional hatchback. If that’s not a problem to you then a used Citroen DS 3 represents remarkable value for money, giving you wind-in-the-hair motoring for far less than you might expect.

DS 3 BUYERS' GUIDES

2. Fiat 500C

Best cheap convertible for fun city driving

Our pick Fiat 500C 1.2 Lounge
Used deals from £6,695
Monthly finance from £0*

Like the Citroen DS 3, the roof on the Fiat 500C moves on rails. However, unlike that car, when opened it isn't limited to just three positions, so you can position it exactly as you like it.

It may be based on a city car but the 500C is surprisingly roomy. Four adults can squeeze in and the boot is the same size as the hatchback’s, at 185 litres. If you need more luggage space - and you might, because this isn't a particularly large boot - the back seats can be lowered to open it up a bit more.

On paper, the cheaper 1.2-litre petrol engine isn't as efficient as the turbocharged 0.9-litre TwinAir motor, which offers greater acceleration, but in the real world, there’s little between them.

FIAT 500 BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Mini Convertible

Best cheap convertible for retro style

Our pick Mini Convertible 1.6 Cooper
Used deals from £10,000
Monthly finance from £0*

Adding a folding roof to the Mini Hatchback's nippy feel only serves to make the Mini Convertible even more fun to drive and virtually guaranteed to bring a smile to your face on a summer's day.

At this price, you'll be looking at a previous-generation car that is a lot smaller in the back than the current version (pictured above) that went on sale in 2016. 

Unlike the Citroen DS 3’s roof, the Mini’s roof opens entirely, so you have the full open-topped experience. The best choice is the Mini Cooper, for a reasonable balance between power and fuel economy, but if your budget only stretches to the less-powerful Mini One, you'll still have a blast. If you want real fun, the sporty Cooper S is the one to go for.

MINI CONVERTIBLE BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Smart ForTwo Cabrio

Best cheap convertible for tight city roads

Our pick Smart EQ ForTwo Cabrio
Used deals Limited stock

The Smart ForTwo is an unconventional-looking car – and that’s before you add a folding roof. It’s probably the smallest convertible you can buy and perfect for city dwellers who want to cut a dash.

In contrast with some other cars on this list, it's not particularly cheap. That's because we're recommending the latest generation which arrived in 2019, and is only available with electric power. The 17.6kWh battery promises 80 miles of range, which should be enough for most city and town dwellers. What's more, a full charge should take less than three hours, allowing you to benefit from cheap off-peak electricity rates, helping to drastically reduce your running costs compared with a petrol-powered model.

The two-seat interior is roomy enough with good storage space and wide-opening doors. It's bright and individual in style but some of the materials are plasticky and easy to scratch. Fortunately, the radio is powerful and easily up to the task of belting out your favourite sounds when the roof’s down, though.

SMART FORTWO BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Mazda MX-5

Best cheap convertible for affordable driving thrills

Our pick Mazda MX-5 1.8 Roadster
Used deals from £9,867
Monthly finance from £0*

The Mazda MX-5 gives you a choice of roof: the traditional fabric soft-top, shown above, or an electrically-powered folding metal roof on the Roadster version. The latter feature makes the MX-5 the perfect all-weather sports car and quieter when the roof's up, too.

The hard-top roof's extra weight doesn't have much of an impact on the MX-5's ability to dart through corners - meaning its lightness and agility enables it to change direction sharply.

Roadster or convertible, this version of the MX-5 has quite a cramped interior offering very little elbow room. However, this cosiness is appealing in a car that's designed for driving fun, rather than outright speed, as the snug seating position makes you feel completely connected to the car.

MAZDA MX-5 BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

Best cheap convertible for everyday usability

Our pick Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet 1.4 TSI SE
Used deals Limited stock

All the virtues of a Golf (solid build quality, comfortable ride, reasonable running costs) but with extra fresh air. If you like the Golf but think it's just a little dull, this convertible could be just what you’re looking for.

The car is based on an old version of the Golf, which has been followed by another two versions by now, so it's not at the cutting edge of technology. However, it still excels at cruising along sunlit lanes with the roof down.

The fabric hood folds quickly and neatly away without robbing the 250-litre boot of any space. If you need more load space, the rear seats fold - they are a bit cramped for passengers anyway. Whether you're carrying a couple of passengers or a little bit of luggage, though, it should be spacious enough for most journeys.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Audi TT Roadster

Best cheap convertible for stylish sun-seekers

Our pick Audi TT Roadster 1.8 TFSI Sport
Used deals Limited stock

While the cheapest pick will inevitably come from the previous-generation Audi TT, early examples of this current version have dropped in price so much that the difference (for a similar-aged model) is very small.

Extensive use of aluminium in its construction means it’s very light, so the 1.8-litre TFSI petrol engine that we'd recommend is easily powerful enough. The body is also very stiff, so you shouldn't feel any shocks or vibrations on poor roads as you might with cheaper convertibles.

The fabric roof lowers or rises in 12 seconds, allowing you to easily take advantage of the first ray of sunshine, or avoid the first drop of rain. A deflector helps to reduce wind buffeting in the cabin when the hood is lowered. A two-seater it may be but the TT’s boot is a generous 280 litres, an increase over its predecessor and easily enough for a weekend away.

AUDI TT ROADSTER BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Audi A3 Cabriolet

Best cheap convertible for a high-quality cabin

Our pick Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI Sport
Used deals from £10,000
Monthly finance from £0*

The Audi A3 Cabriolet is a car that looks much more expensive than it really is. It went on sale in 2014, with long, sleek lines that are more sophisticated than the dumpy model that it replaced.

The fabric hood stows away quickly and the car feels almost as solid as the standard Audi A3 - which is impressive, given that a metal roof - a major structural component - is missing. The interior feels well made, with high-quality materials - particularly if you can find a car with the suede-like Alcantara upholstery.

Avoid sportier S line models for the most comfortable ride, and pick the 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine for good performance without any gruff diesel noise.

AUDI A3 CABRIOLET BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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