Winter has well and truly muscled in on Spring’s territory, but we’re confident the sun will make an appearance at some point in the not too distant future. Assuming we’re not just hopeless romantics, it might be time to take a punt on some wind-in-your-hair motoring by splashing out on a shiny new convertible. We’ve taken a look through the extensive Recombu cars catalogue and used our Jedi-like wisdom to select the top convertibles costing less than £25,000. Just don’t forget the sun cream and toupee glue.
VW Golf Cabriolet
Slice the lid off the popular VW Golf hatchback and you get the Golf Cabriolet. The chasm where the metal roof used to be is covered by an electrically-folding piece of fabric which, although it might sound naff, gives the car an arguably superior, more upmarket look. Overall, the Golf Cabriolet is a beautifully well made and economical choice for year round cruising, thanks to a range of petrol engines that manage more than 40mpg and a diesel lump that returns an impressive 64.2mpg. A choice of manual and semi-automatic gearboxes, four seats, good road manners and a fast folding roof that doesn’t rob the car of any of its 250-litre boot space make it a solid choice for any sun seeker.
Read full Golf Cabriolet Review
Coming in right under our £25,000 budget, Vauxhall’s Cascada is a stylish car with an equally stylish interior that seats four adults in comfort – more than can be said for many convertibles. When the heavens open (and they will), the roof can shield your noggin in less than 15 seconds and can be operated at up to speeds of 30mph, so you won’t have to pull over and hold up traffic while you put the lid back in place. The engine of choice, a 1.6-litre 168bhp unit, pushes the Cascada over £25,000, but even the entry-level 1.4-litre lump is a decent proposition if all you’re bothered about is laid back cruising.
Read more about the Vauxhall Cascada
BMW 1 Series Convertible
The BMW 1 Series delivers comfort, reliability and badge recognition in a fetching package. The 118d diesel makes financial sense, returning 58.9mpg and 127g/km of CO2, which should leave you enough spare cash to spend on the obligatory hat and sunglasses. Opening and closing the roof takes a not-so-speedy 21 seconds but it can be operated at up to 31mph, although when it’s folded it eats 45-litres of the available 260-litre capacity – less than you get in some tiny hatchbacks.
Read full BMW 1 Series Convertible Review
Audi A3 Cabriolet
Although not as fun to drive as the Beemer above, the Audi A3 does have the advantage of being a fair bit cheaper. The Audi also packs a fabric roof that can open in a very speedy nine seconds ─ the semi-automatic version requires you to lock it into place with a lever but a fully-automatic version does everything for you and improves sound-proofing. Boot space is 260-litres and this can be extended to 674-litres if you fold the rear seats down. A range of engines provide the choice between performance or economy.
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Audi TT Roadster
Like it loathe it, the Audi TT Roadster is a car people notice. A sporty engine selection allows for rapid performance, though its handling isn’t quite as involving as its looks might suggest. If proper driving kicks is what you’re after, you’re better off with the coupe version. That said, the it’s an arresting sight wherever it goes, even if it isn’t as exclusive as it once was. Expect the fabric roof to open fairly quickly and up to speeds of 19mph, which is just slow enough for people to see how cool you look as you cruise by.
Read Full Audi TT Roadster Review
Mazda MX-5 Roadster
Although often belittled as a car for hairdressers, the Mazda MX-5 has always impressed those in the know with its no-nonsense approach to open-top motoring – it’s no coincidence it’s the world’s best selling sports car. It may be one of the cheapest options in our list, but the MX-5 is one of the best to drive and is equally at home outside your local salon as it is on winding B-roads. It’s actually quite pleasing to the eye with the roof up or down and that fabric top can be operated simply by releasing a catch and pushing a button. It’s by no means the fastest option, nor the most practical thanks to the small 150-litre boot and only two seats, but the MX5 rarely fails to raise a smile.
Lotus Elise CR
The Elise Club Racer costs £27,500, but if you smile big enough you should be able to charm your local Lotus dealer into letting you have one for less than £25,000. The Elise CR edition is 24kg lighter than the standard car, which means better performance and handling, but less equipment and luxury. It’s powered by a weedy 1.6-litre engine under that heavily vented bonnet, but it’s light so 0 to 62mph takes just 6.5 seconds and fuel economy of 45mpg isn’t to be sniffed at. Sadly, you will need to pay extra for the optional hard or soft roof and, whichever you choose, you’ll have to put it in place manually with help from a mate.
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Mini Cooper S Convertible
It’s small, practical and harks back to the days of the iconic British Mini. Okay, so this one is built in Germany, but the Cooper S Convertible is still a great car if you want a mix of style, an upmarket image and four seats. Because of the BMW heritage, it should prove reliable and the 1.6-litre engine can manage 47mpg. Sadly, the 125-litre boot is tiny and you will need very short legs to sit in the back seats. At least the fabric roof opens and closes with the minimum of fuss. For a bit more oomph, a lightly-specced John Cooper S Works also just sneaks in under £25,000.
Read Full Mini Convertible Review
Smart ForTwo Cabrio
It’s definitely an acquired taste, but if you’re poor and absolutely, positively have to have sky above your bonce then the Smart ForTwo Cabrio is worth a look. The minuscule proportions will make parking and bobbing in and out of traffic a doddle and its running costs are tiny small. Think 85.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 86g/km if you go for the diesel and a still impressive 50 to 60mpg for the faster, more petrol options. The boot is surprisingly large at 225 litres (take that, Mini) and can be expanded to 340-litres by making use of the space behind the front seats.
Read Full Smart ForTwo Cabrio Review