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We have a larger market for them than any other European country. So with summer coming early to the UK this year we were left wondering – why do Brits love convertibles so much?
Rag top, drop top, cabriolet, cabrio or roadster? There are few types of car that attract so many different names in the English language and our love affair seems at odds with the usually tepid and always unpredictable British weather.
In Mediterranean climbs the convertible has a more obvious appeal; as endless cloud-free summers make open air driving an everyday option. Back in Blighty you can count on your fingers and toes the number of days that your convertible fills other road users with envy.
Perhaps part of their popularity in the UK stems from our general love of the car and all things automotive. There are currently 31 million of them on the roads, easily one for every two people. And therefore it is perhaps inevitable that the number of convertibles is proportionately high.
Could it also be that many choose a convertible to stand out among the masses? Whatever the reason, we think that if you can’t beat them you may as well join them. And with reports that stock of new convertibles is in short supply, we thought it was a good point at which to share some of our top used convertible buys for Summer 2011:
Mazda MX5 – the undisputed king of small roadsters. Mazda had sold 900,000 MX-5s around the world by the start of this year and owners love its simple, lightweight construction – which is allied with some decent petrol engines (1.6 and 1.8 litre) and rear wheel drive.
Used versions of the second generation MX-5 start from £4,695. Click here for more info.
Audi TT Roadster – The iconic first generation TT loses none of its appeal in roadster form. As well-built as you would expect a German sports car to be, the TT roadster was launched in 1999. Married to a range of flexible and torquey 1.8 litre turbocharged engines, the TT roadster has lost none of its appeal over the past 12 years.
Used versions of the first generation TT Roadster start from £6,490. Click here for more info.
Honda S2000 – now discontinued without replacement and considered a modern classic in some quarters, the S2000 didn’t sell in as many numbers as its Japanese cousin the MX-5. That said it did attract a cult following and its near faultless reliability means that the S2000 is a great everyday drive. It’s free-revving 2.0 litre V-Tec engine really comes alive at the weekend though.
Used versions of the S2000 start from £7,999. Click here for more info.
Mercedes SLK – small roadsters don’t come much more refined than the SLK. Its folding metal roof also preceded a number of mass market ‘coupe cabriolets’ and in doing so redefined the market. The roof and its accompanying mechanism does add quite a bit of weight though, and the basic 1.8 engine can feel laboured – although it is big step up in running costs to the V6 engined SLK 300.
Used versions of the SLK start from £5,995. Click here for more info.
BMW Z4 – Its looks split opinion and its ride is more than a touch on the firm side. But the Z4 is sporty looking and fun, offering rear wheel drive and the type of great handling you expect from a BMW. Built to last, the 2 and 2.2 litres engines on offer in the two base models will provide enough performance to keep you interested.
Used versions of the Z4 start from £8,990. Click here for more info.