Owners’ Review Champions – Convertibles

  • Which summer loving soft tops do our readers rave about?
  • Fun roadsters and four-seater cabriolets reviewed
  • Mazda’s evergreen MX-5 tops the poll

Cabriolets, convertibles, soft tops, rag tops, drop heads or roadsters, call them what you will – Britons buy more open-topped cars per head than any other nation.

Perhaps it’s because our summers tend to be short and less hot than they are on the Mediterranean that we can enjoy roof down motoring without applying factor 50 to our faces when commuting to work, the fact is convertibles are very popular in the UK.

Unsurprisingly Parkers readers have been keen to share their soft top experiences in our popular owners’ review section, with a wide variety and makes and models driven over tens of thousands of miles.

So which ones are most popular with our readers and what do they think of them?

The Mazda MX-5.

Mazda MX-5 – Owners’ Review Convertible Champion

As far back as 2000, the Mazda MX-5 was certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s best selling two-seater convertible sports car, so it’s not a shock to discover that it’s also the most popular with Parkers’ readers.

Currently in its third generation, introduced back in 2005, the MX-5 is available with a traditional fabric-roofed soft top for traditionalists and the two-piece hard top on the Roadster Coupe – this model accounts for 80 percent of MX-5 sales in Britain and was also the most popular with our readers, particularly in 2.0-litre Sport guise.

For those seeking less power there’s a 1.8-litre available too, together with a plethora of limited editions to keep buyers interested until the all-new MX-5 goes on sale in summer 2015.

We think the MX-5’s great to drive, a car to satisfy enthusiasts, but what do owners think? Riz Husain sums up the thoughts of many when he says the Mazda’s “amazingly good fun to fling around corners,” adding that he would buy one again: “too many smiles not to.”

The Mercedes-Benz SLK.

Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class

It was Mercedes that reintroduced the notion of the folding hardtop back in 1996 when the SLK nameplate made a comeback.

Now, three generations on, the SLK has become a grown-up two-seater, seen as a mature and less wieldy rival to the likes of Porsche’s Boxster. It’s no great surprise as that’s the demographic Mercedes occupies very well – it knows its customers.

With a variety of engines on offer, including economical diesels and rorty AMGs with enormous V8 powerplants, it’s the humbler SLK200 that wins over most of our readers.

Philip Price typifies many SLK drivers citing its “fun and ease of use in town and country” as a key factor in the two-seater’s appeal. Like many owners of the dainty Mercedes, he’s likely to buy another too; “perhaps the diesel for improved fuel economy.”

The BMW 3-Series Convertible.

BMW 3 Series Convertible

BMW’s 3 Series convertible has long been one of the best four-seater cabriolets on the market and one many enthusiasts aspire to own. Now, the drop top 3 Series is no more, replaced under the brand’s new naming strategy by the 4 Series convertible, although it retains the outgoing generation’s folding hardtop.

Well-built, well-equipped, badge appeal and engineering integrity, there’s a lot to like about the convertible 3 Series. It’s good to drive too, although admittedly not quite on a par with its stiffer coupe sibling.

Parkers readers seem like a pragmatic bunch though taking advantage more of the economical 320d’s engine, than many of the faster motors available. Suggesting you can have your cake and eat it, most of these 320d convertibles are specified in M Sport trim.

What’s it like to own one? Dianne Simcock suggests hers confirms she’s a “lady of excellent taste,” and that it’s “great to drive, especially on mountains with the top down.” Difficult to argue with that!

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