Best cars with panoramic sunroofs
Putting a hole in the roof can add a real feeling of light and warmth to a car's interior. Here's our rundown of the best panoramic sunroofs.
Back in the day, if a car had a sunroof it would be a small flap above the heads of those in the front, which popped open or slid back. Its purpose was to allow a bit of extra fresh air to come in, without the noisy turbulence you get when you open a window at speed.
It was once a must-have feature and something of a status symbol, but its popularity started to wane during the 1990s as air-conditioning began to gain a foothold. By the turn of the millennium, air-conditioning was no longer a novelty and the humble sunroof largely faded from options lists.
It wasn’t long, though, until the sunroof was reinvented. As technology improved, it became possible to devote ever-larger areas of a car’s roof to increasingly bigger sunroofs and before long, the panoramic sunroof had arrived. Today, they vary from fixed solid glass panels that allow natural light to flood the interior, to retractable glass panels that truly let the outside in.
Today, you can choose a panoramic roof on cars at many price levels, and each has its own spin on the design, with fabric, fixed and opening types available. Each type has its own appeal, too, and having one can really lift the ambience of a car’s interior, without necessarily adding hugely to the price.
Here's our list of 10 of the best cars with a panoramic sunroof on sale today.
The Citroen C4 Cactus is a funkily styled crossover SUV that offers a great combination of cheap running costs, practicality and exciting design. There are two petrol models and two diesels available, with the most efficient BlueHDi 100 diesel model returning almost 80mpg on average. The Cactus was developed to prioritise comfort over sheer driving pleasure – some rivals are better to drive as a result, but few ride as well. The Cactus’ near-full-length panoramic sunroof is included as standard on 'Flair' trim, helping to make its comfortable interior an airy and pleasant place to spend time.
The Ford Fiesta shows that you don't need a large car to enjoy a panoramic roof. Pick the luxurious, top-spec Vignale model and you'll have a panoramic glass roof as standard, making the cabin feel incredibly light and airy. The front part opens so you can truly let the outside in. The Vignale also includes leather seats (which are heated in the front), a heated steering wheel and a reversing camera - on top of the impressive standard kit available in the Fiesta, our Car of the Year. A rival to premium hatchbacks such as the MINI and Audi A1, the Fiesta Vignale offers elegance and lots of equipment without showing off too much.
The Citroen C1 is among the least expensive cars on our list. It’s near-identical to the Peugeot 108 and only cosmetically different to the Toyota Aygo, both of which share their mechanical basis with the Citroen – it makes sense to choose whichever model you’re offered the best deal on. Despite being cheap, the Citroen C1 has a real sense of fun, emphasised by the bright colours and choice of customisation options available, One of the most appealing models is the C1 Airscape, which has a large fold-back fabric sunroof, similar to the type that Citroen popularised with its tiny 2CV decades ago. As it’s made from fabric, it doesn’t allow light in when closed, but it opens very wide and really brings the C1 to life on a sunny day. The C1 is a city car at heart, but an Airscape with the more powerful 80bhp engine would make an agreeable and adventurous companion for scenic trips.
Until recently, Jaguar was a company famed for its elegant saloons and low-slung sports cars, but its latest model has applied the brand’s design thinking to an SUV for the first time. Considering this is new territory for the British marque, the F-Pace is remarkably accomplished, blending all the luxury, style and handling prowess you’d expect of a Jaguar with extra practicality and more than a modicum of off-road talent. The F-Pace doesn’t come cheap, so our favourite is the entry-level rear-wheel-drive 2.0-litre diesel in Prestige trim. It’s tempting to delve deeply into the options list, though, and the panoramic roof is a prime pick. You can choose a fixed-glass panel or a more expensive sliding version, but either will flood the upmarket interior with light. Be wary, though – option costs can soon mount up until the F-Pace looks very expensive indeed.
Similar in feel to the Citroen C4 Cactus, the Kia Soul is a crossover that offers an extra dose of space and comfort over a traditional hatchback. Buyers can choose between petrol and diesel power – both are 1.6-litre engines, with the diesel returning 59mpg on average with a manual gearbox. The Soul gets a good-quality interior packed with standard equipment and is made airier by the addition of an optional full-length sunroof, while the car’s boxy shape means there’s lots of space for four adults. The boot expands from 354 litres to an impressive 1,367 litres with the rear seats folded, making the Soul a practical proposition. And as ever, it’s hard to ignore the appeal of Kia’s trademark seven-year/100,000-mile warranty.
The latest Mercedes E-Class Coupe is a far more elegant machine than its predecessor, trading the former’s bulky, sharp edges for a streamlined, fluid look – like that of the larger Mercedes S-Class Coupe. You can also choose a Mercedes E-Class Convertible, but adding the panoramic roof option to an E-Class Coupe will give you a great taste of open-air motoring without incurring the expense and inconvenience of a folding fabric roof. The E-Class Coupe has a gloriously high-tech interior, especially if you go for the twin 12.3-inch displays that help you make the very most of Mercedes’ COMAND navigation system. The E-Class Coupe has a virtually endless options list, but this means you can tailor a car to your exact taste. And if the price tag starts to run away from you, at least the economical E220d’s 2.0-litre diesel engine will help you claw some money back with low running costs.
The Peugeot 308 occupies a class that isn’t exactly known for its glamour, but it’s a far more eye-catching car than its Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra or SEAT Leon rivals. The 308 is at once understated and attractive, with a semi-concealed front grille and jaunty rear lights with a ‘claw’ motif. It’s inside the 308 that Peugeot really sets its family hatchback apart from the competition, with a grown-up and upmarket dashboard that both looks and feels good. The car is well equipped, too, and Allure models feel quite luxurious. This is also the trim level at which a panoramic glass sunroof becomes available, further lifting the feel and ambience of the interior. The 308 isn’t quite as engaging to drive as some rivals and space in the rear seats is a little limited, but it scores for its excellent build quality and undeniable visual appeal.
A regular on our best car lists, the Skoda Octavia is immensely practical, good to drive, well-built and affordable. It's much more spacious than the VW Golf it's based on - in fact, it's almost as large as the Passat estate but won't cost as much. To top it off, you can choose a glass panoramic sunroof from the options list. It will add £1,170 to the price of your car, but it is a large sunroof and will flood the cabin with natural light. The sunroof is available on all trim levels except the base-spec S model, although only if you choose the estate - it's not available on any saloon models.
The Volvo XC90 is one of our favourite luxury SUVs. It's good to drive despite prioritising comfort over sportiness, and the interior is a very special place to spend time. Everything has a calming quality about it, and the Volvo also impresses with its build quality. A panoramic sunroof is fitted as standard on the T8 hybrid, but you can also choose it from the options list on other models in the range. It'll cost £1,295 on its own, or £1,600 as part of the Xenium pack (which also adds a 360-degree parking camera and park assist).
The Fiat 500C is perhaps a wild card in this selection, as its maker refers to it as a convertible. In fact, its folding fabric panel is a kind of hybrid of convertible and panoramic roof. Unlike a true convertible, the upper part of the car’s structure remains in place when the roof is open, which does mean you don’t get quite the same wind-in-the-hair feeling as a proper convertible can offer. However, there are advantages: chiefly, the fabric roof doesn’t take up a lot of space when stowed, which is important given the limited interior space of Fiat’s baby. In fact, lowering the roof does much to alleviate the claustrophobia that can set in among rear-seat passengers. Unfortunately, opting for the 500C over the standard Fiat 500 does cost a good bit, but this is a sought-after, chic machine, and one with few direct rivals.