WE COUNT DOWN our top 10 cheap convertible cars, for style on a budget.
“The best time to buy a convertible is the winter.” It is possibly the oldest adage in all of used car-dom, but it’s as true today as when it was first coined. The theory is this; in winter, people want to buy 4x4s and cars with heated seats, but dealers still have convertibles on their lots that they want to shift so they have to drop the prices to attract buyers.
So read our top 10 and grab yourself a drop-top bargain.
10. Ford Focus CC
The CC (Coupe Convertible) is a well proven concept; take a popular hatchback, chop the roof off and replace with a folding hard-top. You can buy various Renault’s, Peugeot’s, Nissans, Vauxhalls and many more, but the Ford gets the nod for our list because the Focus was already so good. Performance isn’t amazing, but it’ll be reliable and cheap.
9. Porsche Boxster
The Boxster previously featured on our Top 10 £5k Performance Cars list and it’s still an incredible amount of car for the money, with over 200bhp from a mid-engined 2.5-litre flat six. However it won’t be a cheap car to own and at nearly 20 years old (although it certainly doesn’t look it!) reliability and wear and tear might become an issue.
8. Alfa Romeo Spider
When you buy a 1990’s Alfa Romeo, you are entering into an agreement. You are not simply buying a car to drive from a to b, you are buying new family member who will require care and attention and money. Occasionally it will let you down, but you will forgive it because you love it and in return you will look impossibly cool wherever you go.
7. Ford StreetKa
If the regular Ford Ka is the perfect first car, the StreetKa is the perfect first convertible. Cute yet sporty styling, surprisingly good performance from the 94bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine and pretty good reliability means that there really aren’t many cons to the StreetKa. Just remember that it’s still a Ka, so if you’re especially tall or want luxury, look elsewhere.
6. Mercedes SL
For less than £5000 you could buy a Mercedes SLK which is newer, better handling, has a folding-hard top roof and is cheaper to run. But why would you, when you can buy an SL. Drive an SL and people will think you have class, a great sense of style and considerably more money than you actually do. A stylish, luxurious, drop-top cruiser: perfect.
5. BMW 3-Series Convertible
Coupe, estate and now convertible. The BMW 3-Series features on pretty much every Top 10 used cars list there is, but with very good reason. The 3-Series is a motoring icon. It offers style, comfort, luxury and great performance in a well priced and reliable package and has done for decades. Add a premium badge and it’s the recipe for sales success. What that all means is that there are plenty on the used market so prices are low.
4. Toyota MR2
Rear-wheel-drive, mid-engined, two-seat convertible. It’s a similar recipe to the Porsche Boxster, but the MR2 is the better car. That might sound shocking but the little Toyota has enough power and grip but not too much of either meaning that fun can be had at all speeds. Legendary Toyota reliability and build quality cements the MR2’s place on this list.
3. SAAB 9-3
OK, I’ll come clean. I’ve always had a soft spot for SAAB. I like the fact that they are the left-field alternative to BMW, Mercedes and Audi but not in a boring way like Volvo or Lexus, but in a quirkily stylish way. The 9-3 has earned it’s place on this list though because it’s a legitimately good car and the fact that SAAB went under means prices fell.
2. MINI Convertible
The new MINI has been the biggest automotive success story of the 21st century and has brought the Mini’s style and fun to a whole new generation of motorists. The convertible was the first of many spin-offs and is arguably the best. The folding canvas roof keeps weight down and retains at least some practicality. Plus it has a bottom-hinged bootlid!
1. Smart Roadster
The Smart Roadster comes with a rubbish automatic gearbox, a small engine and not many gadgets or creature comforts. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s brilliant. Low amounts of grip and a very low weight means that the low power doesn’t affect the fun. It’s brilliant to drive, it’s quite rare so it’s ‘exclusive’ and it still looks great. And let’s face it, these are the real reasons you buy a convertible anyway. So go forth and hit the classifieds.