There’s only one way to enjoy a car in the summer and that’s topless – topless as in “convertible”, that is. I could fill the page with “wind through your hair” clichés but I’m sure you can all picture the scene and imagine what it would be like to own your own convertible during the time of the year that only requires shorts and shades.
Buying second-hand also saves you a packet as you avoid that nasty and enormous depreciation a car suffers when it leaves the showroom. It’s estimated a new car will automatically lose 20% of its list price once bought. That’s not all – for every year after up to three years, a further 15% can be subtracted, depending on brand.
There are a lot of marques to choose from throughout the price range, so I’ve listed a mixed bag, ensuring you are on the right tracks. These are some of the best selling and most popular convertibles, and whilst I’m not here to lecture you on only buying these cars, it’s good to take sound advice before taking the plunge. Online car search sites are a great way to narrow down a selection within your price range and details, using filters to find exactly what you want. In the US, I normally use Autotrader.com as they let you select up the three different models to search at the same time and it’s easily one of the biggest used car marketplaces out there. Here’s the AutoTrader.com Wikipedia page for info on them. If you’re in the UK, we can recommend Carcraft, which also allows you to whittle down your choice using dropdown menus, including car color, mileage, transmission, etc. Check out the Carcraft Wikipedia for more information on them.
2006 BMW Z4
You can’t really go wrong with German cars – they’re solid and reliable, and it’s for this reason they’re more expensive. It’s also for this reason they don’t depreciate as badly too. You can, however, be assured any moving parts will always work and remain working, great for the convertible mechanisms.
While I’m not crazy about the styling of the BMW Z4, it is a great car, and if you like it all the better for you. BMW is a prestigious brand known for its quality and reliability, great reasons to choose this car if it’s within your price range.
If I were to spend out on a BMW I would want the performance to reflect the price. The 3.0si-L petrol unit offers 265-bhp and good acceleration. With 17″ alloy wheels, the Z4 looks the part and would suit any county lane.
For a model with average miles and FSH (full service history), expect to pay around $21,000, or about £6,000 in the UK. Damn Brits getting European cars so much cheaper than us.
2008 Mazda MX-5
Because of its compact size, great handling and sound reliability, the MX-5 is one of the most popular sports cars of all time. Despite the biggest engine being a 2.0-L petrol unit, the MX-5 still boasts 160 hp – that’ll take care of 60-mph in 7.4 seconds. Reviews on this car are all extremely positive on driver satisfaction and the way it handles. Even though you’ll be enjoying an enthusiastic summer drive, the Mazda still returns an average 37.2 mpg.
You certainly won’t have to look far to find one, and as these are relatively cheap, it’s easy to pick up a great example.
For a stand out example for the year (2008), expect to pay around $16,000 or more, or a measly £7,000 in the UK.
2009 Mercedes SLK 350
I’ve chosen another German car in this excellent Mercedes convertible. Perhaps a little biased, as I’ve owned this exact model, the SLK 350 offers amazing power from its 3.5-L V6 (305 bhp). 60-mph comes at an impressive 5.4 seconds with average mpg just tipping over the 31 mark – not bad for such a big engine. The convertible roof action is something to behold – very fast and neat.
The interior is a dark and luxurious space of full leather. The seats are heated with a built in neck warmer, so whilst this makes for the perfect summer drive, it caters for the colder months too.
This model with average miles and FSH will come in at around the# $30,000 mark in the US and around £18,000 in the UK.
2008 Audi TT Roadster
Nothing says safe and sporty like an Audi, and an Audi TT roadster does that. The 1.8 TFSI 160 sport version is the probably the cheapest model in the range but you wouldn’t know it by looking at it! With a 0-60 time of 7.3 seconds and a tank range of 534 miles, this car will have you going fast and economically.
The looks of the TT are classical Audi and it certainly doesn’t look out of place in any environment, be it in the city or out in the country. The handling is wonderfully agile and its easiness to drive makes it an approachable car for everyone.
UK buyers are lucky – they can pick up an Audi TT Convertible starting around £9,000. We have to pay closer to $28,000 in the States. Given, our trim levels in the US start at a higher level, but that also doesn’t allow for a cheaper version of the car.
2008 Porsche Boxster (S)
I don’t need to say much about performance and handling when it comes to this German machine. Whether you choose the 2.7-L or the 3.4-L S engine, the Boxster S will put a smile on your face when you put your foot down under the summer sun. I’d go all out for 3.4-L unit as it offers 295 hp and a 0-62 mph time of just 5.3 seconds. Because these cars are known for their quality build and reliability, they can be used every day, unlike a lot of top end performance cars. Although the Porsche is a serious sports car, servicing and maintenance will cost a lot more than most. Considering its blistering performance, the S will average a solid 29.7 mpg, another reason to consider the bigger engine.
For one of the best marques in the performance car world, expect to pay around $37,000 in the States. Again, UK buyers get this one quite a bit cheaper than we do – if you’re English you can pick this up for as low as £14,000.
This has been a guest post by Jay, who lives in the UK so while we’ve listed prices for both US and UK cars, MPGs are given in UK numbers. In the US, we get a bit less, so don’t come yelling at us when your Boxster S only gets 23 mpg or so!