Temperatures around the country might have fallen back from the recent record highs but summer is definitely here, bringing with it the inevitable rush among drivers to find a convertible to make the most of the sunshine.
There’s something endlessly appealing about the way open-top motoring engages and immerses you in the world around you, whether you’re out for a Sunday morning blast or cruising gently on one of the country’s many spectacular driving routes.
And while those with deep pockets can sample some glorious new convertibles, even drivers with more limited budgets can get in on the action with our selection of the best affordable used convertibles for summer 2022.
Just remember that cheap to buy doesn’t always mean cheap to run, so check any potential purchase over carefully before parting with your cash.
Mazda MX-5. From around £1,000
Really, we could start and stop the list right here (but we won’t). The MX-5 was Mazda’s attempt to distill the brilliance of classic European roadsters of the 50s and 60s into a modern package and from the very start it absolutely nailed that brief. It’s small, light, brilliant to drive and, thanks to its popularity, cheap as chips. Newer versions are more powerful and better equipped but even the most basic early models are a joy to drive.
Mini Convertible. From £1,000
The “new” Mini has been a runaway success for parent brand BMW thanks to a canny mix of appealing retro styling and a brilliant driving experience. The convertible adds a splash of summer fun to the mix without harming the Mini’s basic appeal and thanks to the car’s popularity there are plenty to choose from, ranging from basic 90bhp examples to the 181bhp Cooper S.
Saab 9-3. From around £2,000
The Saab 9-3 is definitely more of a leisurely cruiser than some on this list but if you fancy some easygoing roofless fun, it’s well worth considering. Designed with Saab’s usual understated cool, it still looks stylish today and has a brilliantly comfy four-seat interior. A range of engines mean you can have anything from a frugal 150bhp diesel to a potent (and costly to run) 280bhp V6.
Porsche Boxster. From around £3,000
If driving fun takes a back seat in the Saab, it’s front and centre in the Porsche Boxster. The styling of early models is a little awkward but beneath the skin this is a brilliantly engineered sports car from one of the most consistent names in the business. The very cheapest examples are big-mile first-gen models but even better looking, more powerful second generation examples can be snapped up for less than £10,000.
MGF/TF. From around £1,000
The MG name might now be associated with cheap EVs but it was made famous by its sporty roadsters like the MG B. By the late 1990s the MG’s parent brand Rover was in trouble but the F got the fundamentals right, with neat styling and a sporty mid-engined chassis. Early models suffered some reliability issues but later models improved this and the later TF brought improved quality and better handling, making either model a fun summer runaround that won’t break the bank.
BMW Z4. From around £2,000
The BMW Z4 was launched to challenge the Porsche Boxster, and does so with sharp handling, good looks and broad choice of powertrains. First generation cars had a powered fabric roof while second-gen models feature a folding metal hard top for when summer is over. Like with most cars in this list, you’ll find older, lower-powered first-gen examples at the cheap end but stretch towards £10,000 and you’ll see second-generation cars and a smattering of examples with the smooth straight six engine.
Toyota MR2. From around £2,000
We’re not talking the oh-so-cool 80s and 90s coupe with the removable roof panels here but the proper drop-top Mk3 that was launched in XX to take on the mighty MX-5. Like the MX-5, it doesn’t have loads of power - 138bhp from its mid-mounted 1.8-litre - but, like the MX-5, it’s also incredibly light and nimble and comes with Toyota’s bulletproof reputation for dependability.
Alfa Romeo Spider. From around £4,000
Yes, yes, we know Alfas have a certain reputation for flakiness but they also have a well-deserved reputation for style character and fun. Under £10,000 you’ll find a mix of the 1996-2004 model and the later Brera-based version. To our eyes, the older car looks better and still comes with a choice of raspy four-pot and six-cylinder engines but the later car is more modern and better equipped and has a better reputation for reliability.
Fiat 500C. From around £3,000
Fancy something small, stylish and retro but not sold on the Mini’s massive folding roof. Then how about its arch-rival the Fiat 500? Unlike the rest of the cars on this list, the 500 retains a roof of sorts, with the central fabric panel sliding back all the way to the boot lid to welcome in the sun. It’s not particularly sporty but the Cinquecento is cheap, cheerful and has bags of convertible charm.
Audi TT. From £1,500
We were tempted to put a Volvo C70 in here just to be difficult, but Audi’s dinky drop-top really deserves a mention. It’s not as engaging or involving to drive as the likes of the Boxster or MX-5 but makes up for it with a timeless design that means inside and out even the oldest examples still look modern, with Audi’s patented quality feel. There are also plenty to choose from, ranging from 150bhp front-wheel-drive examples to rapid all-wheel-drive cars with the 247bhp 3.2-litre V6.