End of the convertible era? With choice of new convertible models halved since 2005, CarGurus reveals best buys for open-top driving

UK buyers of new convertible cars have significantly fewer models to choose from today compared with the past two decades, resulting in a rapid decline in registrations of new convertible models since 2004.

According to CarGurus research, in today’s market, consumers have the choice of 24 new convertible models across the UK’s 30 most popular manufacturers – a decline of 56% compared to 54 models available between 2005 and 2010. 

Now, the majority (57%) of Britain’s 30 most popular car brands don’t offer a convertible as part of their UK model range. By comparison, only 20% of brands didn’t offer one between 2005 and 2010. 

Despite being regarded as the “convertible car capital of Europe”, the number of new convertibles registered in the UK reached an 18-year low in 2022, at 16,486 cars, according to data provided to CarGurus by the Department for Transport. This marks an 83% fall over the course of 18 years when a peak total of 94,484 new convertibles were registered in 2004. 

Of the UK’s 30 most popular car brands, Hyundai, Kia, Seat, Skoda, and Dacia have never offered a convertible model for sale. Since the year 2000, Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Audi, Mercedes, MINI, Fiat, Mazda, Jaguar, Lexus, Porsche, Smart, and Jeep have continuously offered convertibles in the UK The Mazda MX-5, known for its easy-to-operate soft-top roof, has been on sale in the UK since 1990, while the iconic open-top Jeep Wrangler has been available in the country since 1997.

The UK’s second most popular brand, Vauxhall, stopped selling its only UK convertible model, the Cascada, in 2018. Toyota has not sold a convertible in the UK for over 15 years, with the MR2 ending production in 2007, although its luxury brand Lexus does still offer its LC in soft-top form.

For UK buyers seeking a new convertible EV, there are just four to choose from: the Fiat 500e Convertible, Abarth 500e Cabrio, Smart EQ Fortwo Cabrio, and the MINI Electric Convertible – of which only 150 units are available in the UK..

Chris Knapman, Editorial Director at CarGurus UK, said: “UK. motorists’ love affair with convertible cars is well documented. Historically – and despite our variable summers – the UK has generally purchased more convertibles than our European neighbours. 

“However, CarGurus data shows interest in open-top motoring has been in decline. Reduced choice in new inventory hasn’t helped this as manufacturers have increasingly switched their model lines to crossovers and SUVs, which are rarely available as convertibles. And, while we are seeing the first electric convertibles enter the market, they are still a rare commodity, at least for now.

“The good news for those who do love to feel the wind in their hair is that the used car market is still home to plenty of convertible models. Listings for convertibles on CarGurus.co.uk start from just £800, while at the higher end of the market, models such as the BMW Z4 and Porsche 911 Convertible can be found from around £5,000 and £14,000 respectively.”

To demonstrate the diversity of convertibles on the used car market, CarGurus has produced a guide to the best convertibles for a range of budgets, from £2,000 to £100,000. Visit the article for more details.

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