There's nothing quite like an open-top performance car, these are our favourites currently on sale


In the UK you could argue that convertibles are aimed at the eternal optimist, but this country does have the second highest ratio of drop-tops per capita of any in the world, so there's plenty of glass-half-full motorists about. It’s not surprising, then, to see that manufacturers still have a need to chop the roof off various sports and supercars, but they do come with varying degrees of success.

Buying a convertible sports car can be a minefield of shimmying mirrors and scuttle shake, but when engineered well can offer an even more thrilling experience, bringing you even closer to the sights and sounds of the car and environment. These are our favourite ways of enjoying the (lack of) British sun, roof up or down.

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Before we round up our evo favourites, we take a look at the different types of convertibles on the market.

Roof designs and folding mechanisms come in all shapes and sizes, from the small removable aperture of a targa to a fully reclining hard-top. Each form offers security and refinement and puts you in touch with the outside world to varying degrees. Most importantly, severed finger tips are no longer being fished out of rusty rain gutters…


The humble and original convertible configuration of the soft-top remains. Raised and lowered at the flick of the switch or by an arcing arm, its light and more easily packaged when down. The multi-layered fabric materials used today for soft-tops do a far better job at insulating the cabin from sound and the elements than the set-ups of old.

The soft-top roof’s days looked to be numbered a few years back as the rise of the folding hard-top took hold, but many brands are returning to fabric arrangements in search of the weight-saving and packaging benefits. Fabric roofs range from the popper-fixed wrestling match that purports to keep the rain out of a Caterham to the slick sound and weather-sealed electric canopy on a Rolls Royce Dawn.


Mercedes was the first manufacturer to mainstream the folding hard-top roof when it launched the first-generation SLK. The idea was to improve refinement, but with that came weight and packaging penalties that often hampered the handling. Questionable design was also a compromise, as all too often models would be hit pretty intensely with the ugly stick – Ferrari California anyone?

Since then, folding hard-tops have found their niche, now usually residing in mid-engined supercars like the Ferrari 296 GTS and McLaren 720S Spider. The apparent weight and packaging penalties don’t seem to have such a negative effect when sitting over a compact cabin as in these models, while usefully aiding refinement.


The targa roof was made popular in the 1980s and 1990s, with a section of roof – often made of plastic or glass – being removable, leaving only a door’s width of open space in the cabin. The Japanese brands really made the most of it, often calling it an Aerotop option on Toyotas like the MR2 and Supra, and it was also found on multiple Nissans.

Modern uses of this lift-out layout are less common, Corvette and Koenigsegg being notable for their continued use. Porsche has recently redeveloped the Targa derivative of the 911, but is based on the convertible body style with a hoop and wraparound glass section lifting up to hide away the folding fabric roof section. A similar design can be found in the MX-5 RF. This halfway house style is the next step on from having a sunroof without opting for a full-blown convertible.


Doing away with any protection from British inclemency is an option only for a hardcore few. Here, weight shaving takes precedence over purpose and practicality and such cars by nature are not strictly speaking convertibles.

Totally roofless cars are normally the reserve of the track or, more recently, hypercar. Ariel, BAC, Radical and certain Caterhams are more often than not lacking a roof in their entirety, but Ferrari, Aston Martin and McLaren have more recently gotten in on the trend, doing without a windscreen at the same time, for better or worse. 

  • Ferrari 296 GTS
  • Maserati MC20 Cielo
  • Morgan Plus Four
  • Porsche 718 Boxster GTS 4.0
  • Mazda MX-5
  • Lamborghini Huràcan Evo Spyder
  • Bentley Continental GT Convertible
  • McLaren 765LT Spider
  • Aston Martin DBS Volante
  • Chevrolet Corvette Convertible


Ferrari’s hard-top 296 Berlinetta has already impressed us with its immense turn of speed and incredible powertrain, so it's not surprising to note that the new open-top GTS version has proven to be just as beguiling. As is the case with most mid-engined Ferraris, the conversion to open-top spider has been planned from its inception, and is integrated almost seamlessly into the GTB’s design.

The 296’s folding roof mechanism is similar to the system fitted on previous mid-engined models, being one of the few to have a rotating, two-piece system that’s both simpler and lighter than most others. The roof panel then slips underneath a rear-opening tonneau above the engine. From the outside, there’s almost no indication of the GTS’s folding roof aside from a slightly different engine cover.

The best bit is that the same could be said for its driving experience, because it’s every bit as good as that of the coupe, only with the opportunity to lower the roof to get even closer to the scenery around you.

  • Ferrari 296 GTS


We’re big fans of the Maserati MC20, so it comes as little surprise to see that the open-top Cielo has just as much appeal. We admit, there is a temptation to create synergies between the MC20 and Ferrari’s 296 GTS above. Yet the two, in fact, couldn’t be any more different aside from their mid-engined layout and cylinder count.

That’s because the two take completely different approaches to their powertrain, chassis and construction. This starts with the MC20, which is underpinned by a carbonfibre tub built by Dallara. Its V6 engine is a 90-degree unit and twin-turbocharged, but does without any hybrid assistance and a huge headline power figure.

This has its advantages, such as a purity to the driving experience and an impressive compliance from the suspension. Its engine is also a delight, with immense performance and a character that feels more like a skunkworks race engine than modern supercar. Even better, the folding hard-top roof – this one finished in glass – displays no obvious compromise over the experience you’ll get with the exceptional coupe.

  • Maserati MC20 Cielo


If your search for open-top motoring includes a bit (OK, a lot) of nostalgia then the Morgan Plus Four offers an experience that’s unlike pretty much all others. Yet while this post-war cabriolet might look old-world, in reality it’s actually very new, only ‘new’ in a different sort of way.

That’s because in 2018 Morgan introduced a whole new generation of aluminium chassis, pairing that classic old-world charm with a new construction method and thoroughly modern BMW powertrains.

The new Plus Four shares its 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with many a BMW (and Toyota), while there’s a whole raft of new tech inside the cabin to make it a more pleasant and less compromised experience than its archaic predecessors offered. Just don’t go thinking the Plus Four is a Z4 with some louvres and round headlights, because compared to modern rivals it is still motoring’s equivalent of an Agatha Christie novel.

  • Morgan Plus Four


Imagine opening the curtains on a crisp morning to a glorious view of sunshine outside. The roads are empty and you’ve got nowhere to be, but on the driveway sits a car that just urges you to get up, go out and drive. We can’t really think of a car we’d rather have the keys to in this scenario than a Porsche 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 for a long, aimless drive, whether it be on roads of which you know every dip and crest, or somewhere lesser known.

The flat-six engine is, and has always been, the perfect sidekick to the Boxster’s sweet mid-engined chassis, and when it was taken from us at the beginning of the 718’s tenure, proved to be the missing link to its success.

The GTS 4.0 update has been the Boxster’s return to form. Ignoring for a moment the Spyder and GT4 which also pack the same flat-six power unit, it’s the Boxster GTS that brings the entry-level Porsche closest to its original glory, and for a not-at-all-unreasonable price. The fact it’s also largely accessible, rather than something kept for Porsche dealers’ priority, makes it a more democratic sports car, too.

  • Porsche 718 Boxster GTS 4.0


By some margin the cheapest car in this list, the little roadster is still a pocketful of fun. Looking three-quarter scale thanks to its diminutive proportions, the latest-generation Mazda MX-5 has so much promise and only lacks a little polish. Tucking neatly between the headrest and boot deck, its manually operated soft-top is a cinch to drop and requires little effort to secure in place, while the alternative RF (retractable fastback) model brings Targa-style utility and a coupe-like roofline.

Both MX-5 engines are zingy enough, with the 1.5-litre squeezing out only the bare minimum of power. Drop away from the top of the rev range and it’s gutless, but deft use of the six-speed transmission should safeguard momentum – and the gear change is, as ever, an MX-5 highlight.

The 2-litre models have recently had a boost to 181bhp and the updated engine is more free-revving than its predecessor. It gives a fairly healthy turn of pace, too, but the car’s chassis still has its limitations – high levels of body roll feel out of step with the car’s responses. In some respects the 1.5-litre car – slower and softer without the 2-litre’s Bilstein suspension – feels more natural to drive. That said, the MX-5 is still a simple recipe delivering the simple charms of a rear-wheel-driven sports car at law-abiding speeds.

  • Mazda MX-5


Of all the cars that should have the top cut off, this Lambo is surely one of them. It's very much a true Lamborghini – exceptionally showy and all the better for it. With low-slung, incredibly aggressive swooping lines and angular points, it looks every bit a modern supercar. Concealing the roof behind you exposes occupants to the glorious cacophony orchestrated by the naturally aspirated V10.

If anyone was to doubt the importance of noise in creating an enveloping driving experience, they should be strapped into a Huracán Evo Spyder. The unique, high-pitch frequency of ten cylinders firing creates an effervescent, multi-layered soundtrack that any force-fed powerplant simply will not match. The immediacy with which the 631bhp is available makes a charge towards the red zone more irresistible with each deeper depression of the loud pedal.

Lamborghini’s own description of the Huracán Spyder as the ‘lifestyle’ model in the Huracán line-up is borne out by some of the issues present in this open-top version. Those standing above six-feet-tall may have to compromise on legroom and the high driving position restricts headroom, too.

Despite the intimidating exterior, the Huracán Spyder is a benign thing mooching around a town and on the open road. The lack of an overhead structure is highlighted on broken road surfaces, but otherwise the agility and response makes the most of a well-mannered and predictable chassis. This sense of control though doesn’t endow the Huracán with ultimate thrills, with a rear-torque bias never apparent. The almost identical R8 Spyder is a more engaging and exciting drive.

  • Lamborghini Huràcan Evo Spyder


The latest Bentley Continental GT is a fabulous grand tourer, and the convertible variant has done nothing to change that. In fact, with roof-up refinement as impressive as that of the previous-generation Conti GT coupe and elegant, speedboat-like styling when the roof is stowed, there’s an argument to be made that it’s an even better GT in soft-top form.

Qualities that remain include the GT’s performance and handling. For a car that weighs 2273kg, its poise is truly remarkable. Active anti-roll technology plays a part in that, and while you undoubtedly feel the car’s bulk if you test it through switchbacks or on downhill sections with higher braking demands, no 2.2-ton car has a right to handle this well – or go this quickly.

Qualities enhanced by the folding roof include a sense of occasion, and the GT’s already spectacular cabin. Walking up to the car, key in hand, feels very special, and with the beautifully constructed and tastefully trimmed cabin bathed in natural light, there aren’t many other places from which you’d prefer to undertake a long journey.

  • Bentley Continental GT Convertible


Elva aside, McLaren’s most extreme convertible model is the 765LT Spider – a car that seems to push aside the contradiction that is a lightweight open-top supercar like few others. As with all McLarens, the 765LT Spider is built upon a carbon tub chassis, meaning that its inherent structural rigidity is less affected than comparable rivals made from steel or aluminium.

And unlike many of the cars on this list, the 765LT isn’t just ‘as good’ as the coupe, but in many ways even better. McLaren has adjusted the Spider’s dynamic personality to make it more approachable, and less spiky at or near the limit. They’ve achieved this by tweaking the damper settings to be a fraction softer all round, while the rear wing extends in a different way under braking to improve stability. This has made it that little bit less frenetic under big stops, especially on uneven surfaces.

Under no circumstances would you ever call it a softie. Instead, the Spider simply feels a touch more keyed in to whatever road you drive it across, partly because it stays in contact with that road for more of the time.

  • McLaren 765LT Spider


Aston Martin’s open-top super GT sits at the pinnacle of its series-production range, with the most powerful iteration of the brand’s V12 engine and a carbon body. At nearly £280,000, it’s also the most expensive series production Aston Martin currently on sale, and despite all its power being transferred through a weakened structure, still delivers that mix of GT car and supercar that makes the coupe variant so appealing.

There’s a real sense of excess with the DBS Volante. Not necessarily in a bad way – just that it's got a larger-than-life personality, in terms of size, image, noise and performance. Its gaping mouth gobbles up the road in front, almost occupying the entire lane, and with the roof lowered you’re very much on public show, which will delight some but leave others cringing. It’s an extravagant, opulent experience.

  • Aston Martin DBS Volante


Almost an entire decade after it was first conceived, and most of a global pandemic later, the all-new Corvette Stingray C8 is here, finally, in Europe. To refresh, this new eighth-generation Corvette has a brand new dry-sumped 6.2-litre V8 at its core and is mid- rather than front-engined, as has been the case for the last 68 years. Its all-new, all-aluminium chassis is suspended by double unequal-length wishbones at all four corners and, yes, they’re making it in right-hand drive for the very first time.

The fact that it’s available in right-hand drive will ensure it has vastly wider appeal in the UK, that much isn’t in doubt, no matter what kind of engine it’s powered by (there’s a hybrid version under way, too, and a more nutcase Z06 with a flat-crank V8, just in case you were wondering). But when you realise that the top-spec Convertible model we’re driving here costs £95,270 its increased popularity seems all but assured.

  • Chevrolet Corvette Convertible


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