What better way to enjoy summer than with a convertible?
Warm weather and top down motoring go hand in hand, and it’s unsurprising that the popularity of convertibles rockets during the summer months.
The problem is, though, that many new convertibles are expensive. Fancy a Porsche Boxster? The cheapest you’ll find is £45,000, while even a new Mazda MX-5 will set you back £19,000.
While some use their convertibles daily, a lot of people only bring them out in good weather, which means that spending thousands on a new vehicle which you might just use a few months a year seems a touch pointless. Buying used on a budget therefore makes a lot more sense.
Here’s a round-up of the top five drop-tops to buy on a budget.
1. Mazda MX-5
The MX-5 is the best-selling convertible ever made, and for good reason – it’s fantastic to drive. It’s compact, light and nimble and it’s hard to think of a car that offers more fun for the money.
We’ve chosen the third-generation MX-5 – codenamed the NC – which is often overlooked, but really it’s a hidden gem. There’s the choice of 1.8 or 2.0-litre engines, although we’ve chosen the latter with 158bhp. That said, both are commendable. With good examples now starting from as little as £3,000, it makes for a fantastic summer purchase.
2. Porsche Boxster
Prices of Porsches are rising rapdily, and it’s meant that models such as the 911 are largely out of reach to most buyers. So where does this leave you? Well, thankfully there’s the baby Porsche – the Boxster.
Prices for the Boxster have already hit rock bottom and are already on the up, so now is a fantastic time to buy. We’d go for the more powerful ‘S’ version, which is only slightly more expensive. £7,000 will get you an early 2001 model in great condition with around 70,000 miles on the clock, and it will likely appreciate. Always ensure any car you’re buying has an excellent service history.
3. Mini Cooper S Convertible
The convertible version of the Mini might not drive as well as the hatch, but few cars are as characterful. The 170bhp Cooper S is sharp to drive and fast, while you can surprisingly seat four people in it as well.
To our amazement you can get a 2006 Cooper S Convertible for just £3,500, and if you want to save yourself a bit more cash, around £2,500 will pay for a lower-powered Cooper version.
4. Toyota MR2
The MR2 is another undervalued sports car, and one that’s impressively cheap, too. Models weigh in from just 960kg, and it’s reasonably fast thanks to its 138bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine.
Since UK sales concluded in 2005, Toyota has not launched another convertible in the UK, or indeed another MR2. It’s terribly impractical, but for B-road blasts on hot summer days, you’ll struggle to match it for the price. Prices start from less than £1,000, although around £1,700 will buy a well-cared-for example with around 75,000 miles on the clock.
5. Audi A3 Cabriolet
You’re probably wondering why we’ve included a diesel-engined Audi convertible in this list, but there is method behind the madness. While the other convertibles here are more tailored towards weekend use, the Audi A3 Cabriolet is a car you could easily live with every day.
With a well-built interior, classy looks and a bit of added practicality, it makes a fantastic buy. If you cover a lot of miles annually, the 1.9-litre TDI engine will manage around 55mpg, yet still looks the part. They’ve retained their value well, and a 2008 car with around 80,000 miles on the clock costs around £5,000.