You’re never too young to get behind the wheel, as this collection of fun-size cars proves
Best convertibles to buy
Budget buy - Mazda MX-5 convertible & roadster coupe (£17,990 -£23,590)
The ever-popular MX-5 received a fresh look in 2009, detail upgrades, an auto option and slight improvements to both emissions and fuel efficiency. Available as a soft-top convertible or a folding tin-top coupe-cabriolet
We like: so much fun to drive, rear-wheel drive balance, improved 2.0-litre engine
We don't like: people who dismiss it as a hairdresser's car, automatic doesn't suit it, steering still a little numb,
Affordable buy - Porsche Boxster (£37,589-£47,306)
Brand new third generation Boxster for 2012 brings even greater performance and lower emissions
We like: as sharp to drive as it is to look at, reduced weight, who needs a 911 anyway?
We dislike: electrically assisted steering loses fine detail, expensive options
Read our Porsche Boxster (2012 onwards) review
Buy a used Porsche Boxster on Auto Trader
Audi R8 Spyder
Premium buy - Audi R8 Spyder (£96,625 -£123,050 )
Audi's supercar is fantastic as a coupe and just as great with the roof chopped off. This is the supercar for the sensible man
We like: gorgeous looks, awesome engine, thrilling drive
We don't like: bitey brakes, terrific thirst
Read an Audi R8 Spyder review
Buy an Audi R8 Spyder on Auto Trader
BMW Z4 - not as sharp as the old one, but still a great driver's tool
Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet - a plush convertible for the family
Mercedes-Benz SLK - SLK has recently received a facelift
Porsche 911 Cabriolet - an awesome car with seriously high performance
Mercedes-Benz SL - effortlessly classy cruiser has speed and surprising poise
0-£4k: Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet
The first Golf Cabriolet brought affordable four-seat open-airness. The Mk 1 is loved by collectors, but later Cabrios are the ones to have. Britain loves the drop top Golf, so there are plenty to choose from out there.
We like: Mk4 is a facelift worth paying for. 2-litre petrols surprisingly economical. Metallic colours timeless and keep well. Boot is big, even with roof down. Electric roof is a doddle.
We don't like: cloth seat wear from lots of in-and-out short hops. Cracks in unmaintained leather trim. Rust in sills and rear wheel arches. Scratchy plastic interiors, and lazy or non-working roofs. Buy a good example!
£4k-£10k: BMW 3 Series
Saab's demise makes a risky option of the orphaned 900 Cabriolet. Been there, done that with unreliable Audis, and Volvo C70 Cabriolet is a blancmange on the road, so BMW the obvious port of call in this price range.
We like: four seats, choice of engines, beautiful hood. Good E36 cabriolets can only appreciate when bought cleverly. Roof down allows max enjoyment of straight-six exhaust note.
We don't like: basic chassis on some versions: e.g. drum brakes on 318i. Plastic rear window cracks but replacements cheap on eBay. Cars stored outside can rot: hunt down a garaged example.
£10k+: Vauxhall Astra TwinTop
Let's forget the prestige boys for a minute. You can currently buy a 2010 Vauxhall Astra Twin Top with 15k miles for £10,750. Top notch value for money that should gently depreciate over the next few years. As a long-term prospect, this two year-old is hard to beat.
We like: '06 intro still a handsome design. Roof can be raised on the move at low speeds. Astra mechanicals means affordable servicing and all-round reliability. Diesel is ace: torquey, economical engine in a well-built, four-seat drop top. Bye bye MX-5.
We don't like: chunky C-pillars are par for the Compact Convertible course, but combine with high boot to hurt driver visibility. Inside is a little plain. Smaller engines can struggle.
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