Five Best Used Hard-Top Convertibles
It is that time of year again, when the bravest or most optimistic of British motorists start to think about buying a convertible.
The trouble is that the sunshine is all too fleeting and the more usual cloud and rain may return at any time to the British summer. This means that, all too often, a convertible spends more time hidden away in the garage than out on the road. Thankfully, steel-roof convertibles are becoming more affordable, and they provide all the security and insulation of a normal hard-top car. Here are five examples that could be the answer to a British summer if you are determined to enjoy open-top motoring.
1) Mazda MX-5 2006
The Mazda MX-5 has topped the convertible best-seller lists since its introduction in 1989. These were standard soft tops, but a steel-roof coupe version was introduced in 2006. It offers more space for passengers and luggage and improves both security and refinement. At the same time, it is still practical and fun, and a choice of 1.8 or 2.0 litre engines gives a good balance between economy and performance.
2) Mercedes SLK 2011
This later SLK is consistently rated by its owners as being one of the best and most reliable hard-top convertibles on the market. It does a good job of combining a compact car with elegance in its lines. The cabin is also compact, but the performance is everything that you might expect from a little Mercedes two-seater. The power roof is excellent, and if you go for the bigger six-cylinder engine, then you really are in for a treat when it comes to performance. Most models have a six-cog auto gearbox, which is better than the manual gearbox.
3) Volkswagen Eos 2006
The Eos took over from the celebrated Golf Cabriolet and managed to raise the bar a bit in terms of quality when it did so. Some would say that the Eos is the most complete four-seat hard-top cabriolet you can buy. It looks great with the roof up, with lines like the sharpest coupe. It even has a sun roof for those who only want to dip their toe into open motoring. The steel roof is good but heavy, but the excellent engines make short work of all those extra kilos and provide some excellent driving enjoyment without being too thirsty at the pumps. All in all, it's a great piece of German engineering with a real quality build.
4) Vauxhall Tigra 2009
At the more basic end of the market comes the Vauxhall Tigra. It still boasts a steel roof, though, and it looks pretty good with the roof up or down. Models with the contrasting paintwork on the roof look especially handsome. Don't expect the performance to be too zippy, though; this is a car that is built to look the part rather than race the hot hatches. However, looking the part is a big chunk of what makes a great convertible car, and the little Tigra is built well and is easy to own. This is a good example of practical and low-cost open motoring.
5) Ford Focus CC 2011
This is another one from the more modest end of the car market and a little unusual, too. Ford went to an Italian design house to come up with the design for the Focus CC, but the Italians still managed to make the car look a little bulky at the rear, and the folding roof uses up a large portion of the boot space. Nevertheless, the Focus CC is extremely well put together and is great fun to drive. There is also plenty of space for four adults, and the car is really pretty economical. If you go for a car from 2008 or later you will get a better interior, and all models offer a range of economical and smooth engines.