The first few sunny days of the year seems to bring the convertibles out onto UK roads in droves. So much so, car manufacturers regularly comment on the popularity of the body style with UK customers.
However, ‘convertible’ is an incredibly broad spectrum of cars. From quirky convertible small cars, through speedy roadsters right up to practical coupe cabriolets, there is a huge range of options for a buyer looking for a summer drop-top.
Below, we’ve chosen our ten favourite convertibles for 2011 across a range of different segments, and told you why we think they are worth buying.
The Fiat 500C is the compact, city car-size convertible that makes a stylish statement.
The convertible version of the retro-styled Fiat 500 retains the fun drive and quirky design of the original and the canvas roof adds a touch of drop-top charm to Peugeot’s success story.
On top of a wide range of body colours – including an eye-catching bright pink – there are also over 100 accessories to completely personalise your Fiat 500C, a key factor in its success.
Engines are notoriously frugal and both petrol and diesel options will be cheap to run – some of the better performing units are road tax and congestion charge free.
In terms of safety, it boasts the same five-star rating as the standard model and comes with seven airbags, creating a safe, stylish and fun little option in the convertible market.
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Peugeot 207 CC
Don’t let the supermini-size dimensions fool you, the Peugeot 207 CC has enough sporting pedigree to pull off the drop-top look with ease.
Sharing the same styling cues as the superb Peugeot RCZ coupe since its upgrade in 2009, the Peugeot 207 CC is one of the most charming, and value-for-money convertibles available to buy now.
Starting from £16,545 and fitted with folding hard-top roof, the Peugeot 207 CC comes with a range of equipment as standard, including some sporty alloy wheels, chrome effect grille and air conditioning.
The Peugeot 207 was named one of the most reliable cars available today in a recent Warranty Direct survey, so don’t expect too many trips to the garage either.
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We’ll breeze over the questionable naming of Renault’s latest roadster to tell you about the two-seat model.
This is because the Renault Wind, based on the Twingo city car, removes the back seats, adds a bolding metal roof and a new stylish exterior to create a compact, sporty model which is up there with the best.
The roof is quick to fold down – 12 seconds – and folds in two places to leave the boot space virtually untouched.
For such a small car, the aggressive styling gives it a unique road presence and the Clio-sourced engines are capable of providing enough thrills and spills.
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Ford Focus CC
The Ford Focus is the undisputed king of the hatchback market. The responsive handling, modern looks and high levels of equipment are unmatched by its volume manufacturer rivals.
So it makes sense to lop the top off and create a convertible – a plan that has worked wonders for the Blue Oval.
Featuring a hard-top folding roof and design touches from renown Italian design house Pininfarina, the Ford Focus CC is equally impressive as a convertible with the hard-top down or a four-door coupe with it up.
Classy, well-equipped and boasting the same impressive ride comfort of its hatchback brother, the Ford Focus CC may be based on the previous generation Ford Focus now the latest version has been introduced, but it remains the best family-size coupe on the market.
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Peugeot 308 CC
The Peugeot 308 CC is probably the best-looking hatchback-based convertible on the market after an upgrade over its predecessor, the Peugeot 307 CC.
This means higher quality materials used in the interior, higher specification and an upgraded safety rating to the maximum five-star EuroNCAP rating.
The Peugeot 308 CC is a hard top, which means wind and road noise is suitably muffled with the roof up. It also means there is more rigidity in the body compared to soft-tops.
When the sun comes out, the roof can be lowered in 20 seconds at speeds up to seven and a half miles per hour and a warm air ‘scarf’ means it will not be chilly when driving at speed.
The Peugeot 308 CC is based on the hatchback, but the rear seats are a tight fit for adults. They do double as excellent storage space, however.
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Vauxhall Astra TwinTop Convertible
Like the Ford Focus CC, the Vauxhall Astra TwinTop Coupe is based on a hugely popular hatchback. The hard-top convertible doubles as a four-door coupe with the roof up when the British weather strikes.
The Astra TwinTop is full of helpful features, such as a system where the roof raises out of the boot to allow easier access to your bags, and the styling is in keeping with the successful Astra.
The Astra isn’t a sporty roadster in the style of an MX-5, but it is a practical, versatile car with surprisingly attractive design.
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There isn’t a lot to be said about the Mazda MX-5 that hasn’t been said already. The world’s best-selling two-seat sports car is one of the most fun cars to drive today.
It’s been going for 21 years in the UK across various generations, and the Mazda MX-5 today is as good as it ever was.
This is down to Mazda’s ‘gram’ strategy, a method of shaving off every last bit of weight to create a lightweight, responsive sports car.
The car is built simply to provide an enjoyable drive, and it comes with an option of a soft-top roof in its many derivations and special editions.
The Mazda MX-5 is also priced well below more premium sports cars, but on the road, can match them easily.
Mazda MX-5 prices start from a reasonable £17,975 on-the-road for a soft-top version.
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Alfa Romeo Spider
The name Alfa Romeo is synonymous with gorgeous-looking cars, and the topless Alfa Romeo Spider is no different.
Based on the Brera, the sporty Spider is a two-seat convertible with a canvas roof capable of closing in 25 seconds.
As expected from an Alfa Romeo, the Spider is an emotive car in both looks and driving dynamics. The classic Alfa design is matched by the selection of engines – including a V6 petrol – are capable of providing enough power.
Unusually for this segment, the Alfa also includes a decent size boot even if the back seats are useless for carrying passengers.
At just £25,000, the Alfa Romeo Spider is a stunning alternative to the likes of the Audi TT.
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Jaguar XK Convertible
If you’re after a little more performance from your drop-top, the Jaguar XK Convertible with a 5.0-litre engine should be right up your street.
The car was updated in 2009 and with it came the powerful V8 engine capable of hitting 60mph in just over five seconds.
The roof is a soft-top capable of closing in 18 seconds and allows the driver the chance to really enjoy the sound of the engine.
Luxury, elegance and class are all bywords for Jaguar’s recent cars and the XK Convertible is no different.
Inside, there’s the usual leather and high-tech equipment – as you’d expect from a circa-£70,000 car. However, this is more than value for money, because this drop-top Jaguar is more than a match for its perennial German rivals.
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One for the future – Citroen DS3 Convertible
When the up-market Citroen DS3 supermini was released in 2010, it was a fantastic alternative to the smaller Fiat 500 and the Mini.
So it makes sense for Citroen to release its premium supermini with a drop-top option, and according to reports, this is exactly what it plans to do.
There is very little information about a prospective convertible DS3 yet, and it is still unclear if it will have a hard-top or soft-top, but any model is sure to mirror the success of its hatchback brother.
Prices will be affordable – around the £15,000 mark – and the growing reputation the DS Line is enjoying is sure to be a hit with the convertible-loving UK buyer.