What is a convertible?

What is a convertible?

We explain how to define a car as a convertible and whether there's a significant difference with related terms.

Convertible cars are a popular choice of motor in Britain because they can make a drive in good weather feel extra special.

But what exactly is required for a car to be considered a convertible, and how does the term differ to similar ones like cabriolet? In this guide, we explain what makes a car a convertible.  

What does convertible mean?

A convertible is a car which features a retractable roof – in other words, a roof that can be folded down or removed either partially or in its entirety.

Convertible cars have a roof which may either be folded via an electronic or manual mechanism, or alternatively the top roof panel may be removable and stored in a compartment somewhere when the driver wants to experience open-top driving.

Difference between cabriolet and convertible

When looking at current cars with a folding/removable roof you may have noticed manufacturers or reviewers calling them something different than convertible like ‘cabriolet’ or ‘roadster’.

Is there any difference between a cabriolet and convertible? In the modern car market, there’s not really any meaningful difference between these terms, it’s more to do with what term different manufacturers prefer.

To learn more about why the terms convertible, cabriolet and roadster exist and what small differences can exist, you can read our separate guide on the matter.

Best convertible cars

Looking for recommendations on the best two-seater, four-seater or five-seater convertible cars on the market right now? You can check out our top picks in our best convertible cars guide.

Other guides about convertible cars to check out:

Five myths about owning a convertible debunked

What different kinds of convertible roof exist?

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