Hardtop Convertibles to buy in winter

  • Versatile and secure open-air motoring
  • Compact two-seaters to luxury coupes
  • Something for every budget from £1,000 upwards

Traditionally the best deals on convertible cars in Parkers Cars for Sale have been found after the clocks change – from October through to April, prices are suppressed and demand is low.

It makes sense, too – not everyone has a garage or covered parking, and the cold, damp weather is seen as making soft-tops a chilly place to be.

It’s not entirely true of course, as many sophisticated multi-layer convertible fabric roofs have glass rear windows and plenty of insulation. Even so, a folding hardtop involves less daily care, arguably a better cosmetic appearance, security against vandalism and superior noise insulation. 

Originally a bulky concept first seen on a 1930s Peugeot and a couple of 1950s American cars, Mercedes-Benz reignited and refined the retractable hardtop for the 1996 SLK; Peugeot swiftly responded before several manufacturers released their own two- and four-seater convertibles with solid folding roofs.

Refined roadsters

Mercedes SLK (1996-04)

SLK 230 Kompressor

Inheriting design cues and a wheelbase from the original SL, the SLK made an impact at launch both for the folding hardtop technology, and its rounded design language.

Powered initially by four-cylinder engines – most with superchargers – it was good for a 0-62mph sprint in around eight seconds and, for a 1990s Mercedes, it was remarkably sporty to drive.

Even so, the relatively grown-up feel that keeps it from being a true sports car is what makes it so pleasant as a year-round roadster. Large, comfortable seats, relaxed steering and a massive boot (when the roof is up) combine to create a fantastic budget grand tourer for two.

There are three generations of SLK to consider; the cheapest being the original 1996-2004 R170 series. Lustier 3.2-litre V6 models joined the range in 2000 and are worth seeking out, but on all examples, look for rust and gearbox issues. Bought wisely, you can get a good one for less than £1,500.

Parkers star rating: Four stars 
Used price from:
Power: 197hp
0-62mph: 7.3s
Fuel economy: 28-31mpg

Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe (2007-15)

Mazda MX-5 RC

You could look at the MX-5 Roadster Coupe as a rather bulky option, given the stripped out appeal of the little Mazda. If you have on-street parking, or want something capable of longer distances without fatigue, the folding hardtop has significant advantages.

Slightly awkward in appearance, it solves the issue of storing the optional traditional hardtop, and is always ready to use – it also won’t wear out as quickly.

There are few disadvantages; the boot space is unchanged at a piffling 150 litres, the top folds away in 12 seconds and is neatly covered. The additional weight is around 75kg depending on specification, which does have a subtle effect on the MX-5’s otherwise perfectly balanced handling.

Parkers star rating: Four stars 
Used price from:
Power: 156hp
0-62mph: 7.6s
Fuel economy: 34mpg

BMW Z4 Roadster (2009-17)

BMW Z4 Roadster

BMW’s follow up to the athletically-small Z3 went upmarket; more refined and sophisticated throughout. Naturally a folding hardtop featured, with a neat three-piece roof that followed the lead set by the larger 3 Series Convertible. The Z4 has classical roadster lines and a large rear window for good rear visibility.

Boot space with the roof up is 310 litres, and the cabin is comfortable given how compact the Z4 is.

Engines range from the sDrive18’s 155hp 2.0 to the 340hp 35is. All handle well and provide an entertaining, yet refined ride. Values reflect this, with few offered below £10,000.

Parkers star rating: Four and a half stars 
Used price from:
Power (20i sDrive): 185hp
0-62mph: 6.7s
Fuel economy: 41mpg

Compact convertibles

Peugeot 207 CC (2007-14)

Peugeot 207 CC

Peugeot, quite rightly, seemed to react with a little surprise to Mercedes-Benz’s claims of innovation for the SLK. After all, it was the 1936 Peugeot 402 Eclipse that first showcased a retractable hardtop. Its response was to go for the mass-market jugular with the 206 CC, and in 2007 it addressed outdated styling and teething troubles with the roof mechanism by releasing its 207 CC successor.

Engaging steering and classically competent Peugeot suspension made the 207 CC a fun, comfortable car despite the bulky roof. It’s not practical as a four-seater, but treat the rear seats as a luggage area and it makes a lot more sense.

You can pick up a low mileage example for under £1,500 – as winter moves on, that could dip below £1,000 if you’re patient.

Parkers star rating: Three and a half stars 
Used price from:
Power (1.6i 16v Petrol): 120hp
0-62mph: 10.4s
Fuel economy: 43mpg

Daihatsu Copen (2004-10)

Daihatsu Copen - yellow car

Daihatsu continues to produce charming little cars for other markets that we’d be delighted to have here, but its last distinctive offering in the UK was the Copen.

This cute little roadster has a 0.7-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine – typical for the small Kei-class of Japanese car the Copen was developed as. That said, we’d seek out the 2007-on model with 1.3-litre four-cylinder. It has more power and torque despite the lack of turbocharging.

This tiny car is really suited as a runabout and fun car only – the boot is tiny, and the cabin is cramped. Prices start at £2,500 for very low mileage examples, for which you get concentrated driving fun in a minute package.

Parkers star rating: Three and a half stars 
Used price from:
Power: 86hp
0-62mph: 9.2s
Fuel economy: 47mpg

Mitsubishi Colt CZC (2006-2009)

Mitsubishi CZC

Easily overlooked new – and used – the Colt CZC looks a little bit like a Micra C+C, but is available with a turbocharged 1.5-litre engine for remarkable performance. It’s also a little quirky, and if the exhibitionist in you prefers a stealthier approach than just shouting ‘look at me’ – this works.

Unusually flat, wedge-shaped styling at the front is at odds with the stumpy, horizontal rear end.

Inside is equally conflicted, with a large dashboard and MPV-style windows in the between the windscreen pillars and doors hinting at the high driving position of an SUV. Two very upright, short rear seats technically allow the CZC to carry four passengers, but those in the back won’t thank you for putting them there.

The front seats, however, are comfortable and supportive, suiting the performance offered by the 150hp Turbo model. And you can pick one up for under £2,000 easily.

Parkers star rating: Three stars 
Used price from:
Power (1.5 Turbo Petrol): 150hp
0-62mph: 8.1s
Fuel economy: 39mpg

Renault Wind (2010-12)

Renault Wind roadster

Breezing through from 2010 to 2012 – before a rationalisation of products saw Renault drop niche models from right-hand drive production – the Wind is a lovely little car. Based on the Twingo, it’s a strict two-seater with a perky 1.2-litre petrol engine, though for surprising performance there’s a 1.6-litre Gordini model.

Handling – in fact, the whole car – is down to Renaultsport, and it shows. The Wind is genuinely fun, and fundamentally a useful car too, with 270 litres of boot space that is barely reduced by the clever folding top.

Despite a short period for UK sales and a relatively low profile, Wind values are strong, and six-year-old cars are around £3,500.

Parkers star rating: Four stars 
Used price from:
Power (1.2  TCe): 100hp
0-62mph: 10.2s
Fuel economy: 44mpg

Comfortable cabriolets

BMW 3 Series Convertible 2007-2013

Objectively, you need read no further if you want a four-seater convertible; that even applies for cars with fabric tops. BMW’s long line of open-topped 3 Series offerings hit a new high for styling and quality when the 2007 model made its debut.

Roof up, the unspoiled coupe lines still look fresh; retracted there’s a minimalist, unfussy look that is beautifully proportioned.

There’s room for four adults, but bootspace is limited at 350 litres. The rear seats do fold for longer loads, and the folded roof can be raised to load shopping.

Prices for good examples begin around £6,000, reflecting the quality and popularity of this model, and you’ll pay a lot more for the best options and engines. Powertrains are diverse, from economical diesels to the epic M3. Pick of the sensible range is the 330d for a satisfying blend of power and economy, but all of them are involving to drive.

Parkers star rating: Four and a half stars 
Used price from:
Power (330d): 245hp
0-62mph: 6.2s
Fuel economy: 46mpg

Volvo C70 Coupe Convertible (2006-13)

One of the best cars in this group – second, perhaps, to the BMW – the Volvo is a great choice if you want a luxurious four-seater. Prices reflect that; budget around £5,000 for a decent example with average mileage. Diesel models are plentiful, but the optimum choice for relaxed open-air cruising is the five-cylinder T5 petrol with automatic gearbox.

The quality of the already stylish interior was improved in 2009, alongside a facelift to match the new Volvo look. As a family-focused convertible from a firm with a strong reputation for safety, the C70 Coupe Convertible included curtain airbags – a first for an open-topped car.

There is ample room for four adults, with decent leg- and headroom, though the boot space is low for this sector with just 404 litres with the roof up and 200 litres with it folded.

Parkers star rating: Four stars 
Used price from:
Power (2.4 Petrol): 170hp
0-62mph: 9.7s
Fuel economy: 29mpg

Ford Focus CC (2006-2010)

Closely related to the Volvo C70, the Focus is an unusual model for Ford. It’s well worth seeking out though; a safe and strong chassis meets Ford’s excellent ergonomic approach to interiors.

Externally the car looks considerably better with the roof down than up, as the two-piece top requires an immense rear deck and the width of the opening section has not been well-disguised.

Petrol and diesel engines are offered; the smaller petrol is a little overwhelmed by the weight of this car, though and the TDCi diesel offers the best all-round driving experience.

That low roofline also compromises rear passenger space, which is only really suitable for short trips with four adults. The trade-off is an immense 548 litre boot – 248 litres when the roof is folded – making the Focus an excellent choice if you have smaller children and all their associated clutter. The rear seats include Isofix points, and the Focus scored five stars on Euro NCAP at the time of testing.

Parkers star rating: Four and a half stars 
Used price from:
Power (2.0 Petrol): 145hp
0-62mph: 10.0s
Fuel economy: 37mpg

Vauxhall Astra TwinTop (2006-2010)

The unglamorous Astra might seem to be at a disadvantage in a group of cars placing style above substance. Objectively, though, it’s one of the best proportioned hardtop convertibles of the era, retaining the gently-curved roofline of the Bertone Coupe and a clean rear deck with tidy shut-lines. Engines include diesel and turbocharged petrol options.

Handling is safe, rather than sporty, and it’s solidly built - a sensible choice for open-air motoring.

Go for bold colours, Irmscher styling and larger wheels to add a bit of flair to the exterior.

Behind the wheel you get a good feeling of being in a cabriolet, but the interior design has not aged well. Rear passengers will appreciate the family-friendly layout, though, and the 440-litre boot is practical, although rearward visibility with the roof raised is poor.

Parkers star rating: Four stars 
Used price from:
Power (1.6 16v Petrol): 115hp
0-62mph: 12.4s
Fuel economy: 40mpg

VW Eos (2006-14)

Carving a new niche for Volkswagen, the Eos is unusual for having been launched and then discontinued within eight years without a successor. Crossing traditional model lines, it effectively replaced the Golf Cabriolet, yet owed more to the Passat in engineering terms, and brought a sophisticated five-section roof with an opening panoramic sunroof to the sector.

That roof is the main reason to consider the Eos; a hardtop in winter, a fully-open cabriolet in summer, and a glass sunroof for that most British of indecisive weather.

Quality engineering positioned the Eos as a premium model, yet our classifieds have cars for as low as £3,000. £5,000 is sufficient for low-mileage and a seven-year-old Eos with good specification and history.

They handle well, with an emphasis on comfort, and are remarkably refined. Performance is adequate, rather than sparkling – this is a cruiser, and has no pretensions otherwise.

Despite enhanced headroom due to the clever roof passenger space is average overall, but well finished with some premium touches. Boot space with the roof down, at 205-litres, is above expectations given the 358-litre maximum capacity.

As this is a heavy car, we’d opt for the older technology, larger engines and steer clear of the 1.4 TSI at higher mileages.

Parkers star rating: Four stars 
Used price from:
Power (2.0 FSI Petrol): 150hp
0-62mph: 9.5s
Fuel economy: 34mpg

Renault Megane Coupe-Cabriolet (2010-16)

In this company, the Renault Megane makes it onto the list not because it’s a sensible choice, but rather, an easy and readily available one. It offers four seats and a large boot for £5,000 with low miles, and a car just five or six years old, rather than ten years old for many of the alternatives. It also features an appealing panoramic glass roof option.

A heavy car, the Megane has engines from a 1.2-litre TCe petrol turbo to 2.0-litre dCi diesel.

None offer sparkling performance, though the grip of the Megane’s excellent chassis is still present under the additional bulk of the folding roof; none of Renault’s reputation for safety has been lost either, with plenty of kit to keep passengers protected.

Practicality is lifted slightly by a deep cutout into the rear bumper when the boot is open, providing a low lip and easy access even with the roof retracted. Although it lags behind the competition dynamically, the Megane is an easy car to live with and maintain

Parkers star rating: Three stars 
Used price from:
Power (2.0 dCi): 160hp
0-62mph: 9.1s
Fuel economy: 42mpg

*Prices based on examples found on Parkers Cars for Sale and limited to availability. Similar examples may be on offer. Prices correct at time of publication. Pictures not representative of specific examples.