Summer may be in full swing but amazingly the sunshine looks set to continue for a while to come. So if you’re fed up with being stuck in a sweltering car, it’s a great time to find a convertible or sports car with ice-cold air conditioning to see you into the autumn.
We’ve rounded up some of the best summer-friendly drop-tops and performance cars that you can buy for under £25,000. Whether you’re looking for a sleek but practical four-seater cabriolet with a folding hard top, a compact soft top, or a striking two-seater thrill machine, there’s lot of appealing cars to choose from – that won’t break the bank.
You can also find some great prices on several less obvious types of car over summer though, such as 4x4s.
1: Audi A3 Cabriolet (2008-2013)
The Audi A3 Cabriolet may be compact, but it doesn’t skimp on quality. With a beautifully designed interior and several potent petrol and diesel engines, you should be able to find a model to suit you.
For around £15,000 to £17,000 you can find a number of good condition models with less than 50,000 miles on the clock. For the full drop-top experience, we’d opt for one of the responsive turbocharged petrol engines, which offer strong performance, but also fuel economy of close to 40mpg – and do without the image-killing tractor noises.
2: Volkswagen Eos (2006-)
If you’re not keen on having a fabric roof, but don’t want to compromise on the wind-in-the-hair driving experience, the Eos gives you the best of both worlds thanks to its folding hard top. You also get a reasonable amount of space for four passengers.
Despite it going on sale back in 2006, Volkswagen still sells the Eos, giving buyers lots of models to choose from. For around £14,000 you can get a three-year-old model which has covered less than 40,000 miles. The turbocharged 1.4-litre 160 model gives the best balance of power and fuel consumption.
3: Mercedes E-Class Coupe (2009-)
Don’t think you need a cabriolet if you want an open-air driving experience; an E-Class Cabriolet may be available but even the Coupe can emulate this with a panoramic glass sunroof and side windows which all sink into the car’s flanks, with no pillars getting in the way.
Without a folding roof, the Coupe’s refinement should be better than the Cabriolet at high speeds, whether you fancy an economical diesel, which should achieve over 50mpg or a powerful petrol. A low mileage three-year-old diesel model is likely to set you back around £20,000 while £24,000 will get you a fast E350 CGI petrol V6 model.
4: BMW Z4 (2009-)
With several strong engines under the bonnet and power being sent to the rear wheels, the BMW Z4 should put a smile on keen drivers’ faces. Thanks to its folding hard top this BMW also works just as well in winter as in summer. Even the less powerful engines offer up quick acceleration too.
Prices start at around £15,000 for cars under five years old which have covered less than 60,000 miles. Closer to £18,000 is enough for a Z4 35i, which can sprint to 62mph in a speedy 5.8 seconds, but is still capable of 33mpg, meaning that petrol bills shouldn’t be too pricey.
5: Land Rover Discovery (2004-2009)
If a convertible or sports car isn’t on your radar, summer can be a great time to find a bargain off-roader, as there is less demand for these cars when the temperatures are high. The Discovery is one of the largest 4x4s that you can get and gives you a huge amount of space for passengers – with both five and seven seat versions available.
£23,000 is enough to secure you a four-year-old model with approximately 50,000 miles on the clock and a strong 3.0-litre diesel engine under the bonnet. Acceleration is strong for such a big and heavy car, with the car passing 60mph after just nine seconds, though fuel economy is poor for a diesel at only 30mpg.