Top 10 best convertibles and cabriolets 2023

Open gallery Close News by James Disdale 11 mins read 4 May 2023 Share

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.

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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.

1. Mazda MX-5

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.


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2. Porsche 718 Boxster

It would be a stretch to call the Boxster one of Porsche’s best kept secrets, but its entry-level status and the shadow cast by the legendary 911 means this mid-engined machine doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. You see, when the roads are good and the sun is shining there are few cars that are more entertaining and enthralling than the Boxster.

The arrival of four-cylinder engines in 2016 robbed the Porsche of some of its aural appeal, but there’s no doubting the potency of the turbocharged units, which knock the old flat-sixes for, erm, six when it comes to straight line pace. And if you do want the full mechanical orchestra, then the 4.0-litre GTS will happily provide it, especially when the roof is down, something that can be easily achieved with the touch of a button. Speaking of which, once the fabric covering is stowed you’re treated to buffet-free progress, meaning topless long haul trips aren’t a chore.

Yet regardless of engine it’s the Porsche’s chassis that shines the brightest, its perfectly balanced and endlessly adjustable handling drawing you into the action. Then there’s the perfectly weighted steering, the strong grip, the cast iron body control and brakes that are as progressive as they are powerful.

Take things a little easier and you’ll discover an interior that’s roomy and rich in material quality, plus a pair of luggage compartments (one front and another rear) that make this one of the most practical two-seater drop tops. Sure, it’s not cheap but the incredible engineering and depth of ability on offer mean that the Porsche feels like it’s worth every penny.

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