May is upon us and it means that, hopefully, some warmer weather is on the way. Certainly, with the longer days and balmier evenings, it’s a great opportunity to make the most of your day – and what better way to do that than with a convertible?
But often these drop-tops are accompanied by a chunky price – particularly new models. This is why we’ve picked out some of the best budget convertibles, ensuring you can get that wind-in-your-hair feeling without breaking the bank. Let’s take a look.
It might look like a child’s toy, but believe us the Daihatsu Copen is very much the fully-fledged convertible. It’s powered by a dinky little 1.3-litre petrol engine, mind you, which will get you from 0-60mph in 9.3 seconds. Sure, it’s not lightning pace, but it’s brisk enough to keep things interesting.
It actually qualified as a Japanese kei-car due to its impressively dinky proportions, but it’s got an equally miniature price on the used market too. Examples can be found for as little as £2,200 – not bad for a convertible with a metal folding hardtop.
Fancy a more retro take on the convertible theme? Step forward the Nissan Figaro. It’s based on the humble Micra, but is far more than its rather ordinary underpinnings would lead you to believe. Of course, you’ve got that achingly retro exterior, but the interior is equally classic to look at, with a bakelite-style dashboard and a nice thin steering wheel.
Powered by a turbocharged 1.0-litre engine it’s both surprisingly brisk and frugal, while decent examples can be found for around £5,000.
It’s hard to do a list of convertibles without mentioning Mazda’s ever-popular MX-5. Throughout its many generations, the MX-5 has come to stand for low-cost yet exciting motoring wrapped up in a package which is both good to look at and reliable, too.
We’d opt for the second-generation MX-5 – officially known as NB – as it’s cheap enough to be had on a budget but still features some creature comforts. They’re great value, too, with decent examples costing from around £1,500.
Mini’s Convertible is another drop-top that trades on its retro stylings. The first-generation Convertible is a great buy at the moment, offering a classy interior with a range of punchy engines. You could even opt for a Cooper S variant, which packs a supercharged 1.6-litre engine and a range of sporty touches.
Despite this prestige, used examples are plentiful and, as a result, don’t cost the earth. In fact, if you’re not too worried about mileage, you could net one for as little as £1,200.
The Z3 has gone down as one of BMW’s most popular roadsters. Combining the driver involvement that the brand is known for with a classic exterior design, it’s little wonder why the Z3 proved to be such a hit with buyers.
And because of that success, the used market is awash with them. Make sure to check service history certificates and the arches for rust and there’s little reason why a Z3 can’t prove to be a hassle-free, low-cost drop-top. Expect to pay around £1,600 for a good example.
Peugeot’s regular 206 was, much like other cars on this list, a real success. Arriving as yet another low-cost yet good-to-drive hatchback from a firm well-known for creating just such a vehicle, it was only logical to produce a drop-top version. And that turned out to be the 206cc.
It went above and beyond, too, offering a folding hardtop which was unheard of at 206’s price point. There’s a superb budget convertible, too, with good examples starting from around £1,200 – though it’s possible to find them for as little as £750.