It doesn't matter how long your journey is: in this country it can go from delightfully sunny to desperately sodden in seconds. Only the Germans buy more than us in Europe (though they do have an extra 18 million people knocking around), so what we ambitious Brits need is a car that drops its top – and raises it again – in a flash. We've put together 12 of the fastest roofs in motoring, so now you'll never have to miss those brief splashes of sunshine again.

 

2014 Mercedes Benz SL

12: Mercedes SL – 17 seconds:

The big Merc is one of the most luxurious convertibles you can buy, and as you'd expect for something so pricey its roof is brisk, taking 17 seconds to raise or lower. The weight of the assembly means you have to be stationary, though.

 

2013 Vauxhall Cascada

11: Vauxhall Cascada – 17 seconds

Vauxhall's one and only soft-top matches the Mercedes' 17-second roof-lowering time, but that falls to 19 seconds on the way back up. It steals 11th place in our list by virtue of the fact that the Cascada can work its roof at up to 31mph (50kph).

 

2013 Mini Convertible

10: Mini Convertible – 15 seconds

The first Mini on our list is the Convertible, whose canvas roof folds back into a neat bundle behind the rear seats in a sprightly 15 seconds, and you can take care of the action at up to 20mph. Fancy showing off in slow traffic only? Look no further.

 

2011 Audi A5 Cabriolet

9: Audi A5 Cabriolet – 15 seconds

The big Audi has a lot more roof to fold than the Mini, and it's a more complex mechanism, too. It might take 17 seconds to raise, compared to its 15-second lowering time, but it sneaks in front of the Mini in our list thanks to its 31mph operation ceiling.

 

Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupé 25th Anniversary edition

8: Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupé – 12 seconds

We're getting into seriously speedy roof territory now, with the evergreen Mazda MX-5 making a worthy appearance. Just 12 seconds is all it takes to fold the hard top roof back into the boot – but the down-side is you have to be stationary.

 

2013 Audi TT Roadster

7: Audi TT Roadster – 12 seconds

Also weighing in with a 12-second roof operation time is the hugely popular TT, one of Britain's favourite convertibles. It earns itself seventh thanks to a neat mechanism that can be worked at up to the magic 31mph mark.

 

2014 Jaguar F-Type

6: Jaguar F-Type – 12 seconds

The stunning convertible Jag is one of the best-looking cars on the road today, and it also has one of the quickest roofs. Okay, so it matches the Audi TT and Mazda MX-5 with a time of 12 seconds, and it can't better the TT's maximum operation speed of 31mph, but it's so gorgeous it goes into sixth.

 

2011 Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster

5: Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster– 11 seconds

There's not much else on the road that can match the sheer drama of the SLS AMG Roadster, either for noise or just the way it turns heads. The roof is almost as rapid as the car it sits on, stopping the clocks at just 11 seconds.

 

2013 Volkswagen Golf Convertible

4: Volkswagen Golf Convertible – 9.5 seconds

The humble Golf is the first car in our countdown to dip below the 10-second mark, and while it's definitely a looker it's clearly not all style and no substance. You can switch the roof position on the move, but only up to 18mph.

 

2014 Porsche Boxster GTS

3: Porsche Boxster – 9 seconds

A whisker ahead of the Golf is the Boxster, whose nine-second roof-folding time is doubly remarkable for the fact that you can make it happen at up to the 31mph benchmark. It's also the fastest fully-automated roof in our list, but there are two faster units that we just couldn't ignore.

 

2013 Mini Roadster

2: Mini Roadster – 8 seconds

The second Mini we're featuring has a faster roof, but it's partly manual in its operation. But thanks to that, if you're quick with your hands the roof can be down in as little as eight seconds. Taking your hands off the wheel means being stopped with the handbrake on is a must.

 

2004 Honda S2000

1: Honda S2000 – 6 seconds

Our winner is an absolute stunner, not just in its styling but also its roof speed. Flip the manual catches inside the cabin and just six seconds after flicking the roof retraction button you'll be enjoying the sunshine. It's a stationary affair, though, which is the price you pay for such speed. The Honda S2000, despite not even being built any more, tops our countdown by a mile. Well, two seconds, anyway.