With spring technically here and the weather (hopefully) starting to take a turn for the better, many motorists will be considering venturing out to some countryside B-roads to enjoy a drive in the sunshine. Few experiences are more enjoyable for a petrolhead, but there’s one thing that makes a weekend blast all the more exhilarating – putting the roof down.
With that in mind, here are some of the best convertibles currently on sale in the UK that could tempt you into spending the summer topless, along with one you may want to avoid.
The archetypal convertible, the Mazda MX-5 may be what first springs to mind among your friends and family if you tell them you’ve bought a soft-top. A staple on the UK’s roads for many years thanks to its combination of performance, value for money and fun, the MX-5 has recently been refreshed by Mazda and is now on its fourth generation. This new model is priced from £18,495 and combines performance with frugality, offering 47.1mpg and a 0-60mph of 7.3 seconds if you go with the two-litre petrol engine.
Interior toys include an iPad-esque touch screen on higher spec models, while lane-departure warning, keyless entry, heated seats, Bose sound system and cruise control are all available, depending on trim level.
If the regular MX-5 isn’t enough there’s always the RF model, which starts at £22,195 and features a retractable roof that can be opened and closed while driving.
The success of the Mini has spawned many variations, some good, some a bit odd (we’re looking at you, first-generation Clubman). Luckily the convertible range falls into the former camp, offering top-down thrills in a supermini package.
The Cooper, Cooper D, Cooper S and John Cooper Works models are all available in convertible form, each with varying levels of performance. Prices start at £18,765 for a base model convertible Cooper, while the convertible John Cooper Works – capable of 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds – starts at £27,025.
Various trim levels are available, bringing the usual interior comforts and toys you’d expect from a new car in 2017. Reverse assist camera, cruise control and park assist can all be specified, as well as the intriguingly-titled Mini Excitement Pack. This, somewhat pointlessly, adds the ability to project the Mini logo from the underside of the wing mirrors onto the ground for about 20 seconds whenever the vehicle is locked or unlocked. Very exciting, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Audi R8 Spyder
If you’re celebrating a recent lottery win then the R8 Spyder is the car for you. Launched last year, it takes all the best bits of Audi’s already excellent second-generation R8 and adds some extra glamour in the form of a retractable roof that cranks the enjoyment level up to 11.
Starting at just under £130,000 it is by far the most expensive car on the list, but all that money buys you a lot of performance. Powered by a 533bhp V10, it will go from 0-62mph in just 3.6 seconds, and hit a top speed of 197mph. Granted, these figures are ever so slightly slower than the coupe version, but that model doesn’t let you feel the wind in your hair as you put your right foot to the floor, does it?
Inside you get all the usual high-end finery you’d expect from a car costing six figures. Audi’s virtual cockpit comes as standard, while optional extras include carbon detailing and a Bang & Olufsen sound system linked to speakers in the seat headrests.
We told you this list wouldn’t all be about great convertibles, and unfortunately it’s Vauxhall that’s picked up the wooden spoon in this instance. While the Cascada is by no means a bad car, it seems somewhat lost in a market that features stronger offerings from more desirable brands.
Designed to seat four, the Cascada appears to be aimed at consumers who may have been considering the now-discontinued Golf Cabriolet, or the previously mentioned Mini convertible range. However, at from £26,760 on the road, the model remains very much a niche in Vauxhall’s range. The fact that they’re still a rare sight despite being launched in 2013 shows how little an impact the model seems to have made on the UK’s convertible market.