Best five convertibles

The recent heatwave in Britain this week has been responsible for some of the highest temperatures the country has seen this year so far.

As well as that, the balmy weather is due to stick around, with the heat due to last until mid-August.

Despite the country’s usual penchant for changeable weather, Britain is one of the largest markets in the world for open-top cars, with over 55,000 of them sold in 2012.

Previously seen as the quintessential mark of a wealthy young man, convertibles are now becoming more and more accessible, with the introduction of many chic but cost-effective cabriolets from manufacturers.

In fact, figures from last year show that the biggest current market in the UK for convertibles is women aged 50 and over.

Last year, this age group of women bought seven per cent of all convertibles sold; a figure that’s quadrupled in the past 15 years.

With the fantastic range of convertibles available, plus the weather perking up, there’s never been a better time to put some fun into your driving, take the plunge and go topless.

Here’s our pick of some of the best convertibles that you can take home with you right now.

Citroen DS3 Cabrio

If you want the right blend of style and performance, then Citroen’s DS3 Cabrio is a great choice.

There’s just no two ways about it; the Citroen DS3 is a handsome looking car, and the convertible version is just the same.

With a stylish exterior design and well-equipped interior, the DS3 cabriolet also boasts one of the biggest scopes for personalisation with a wide range of options for alloy wheels, body colours, leather seat trims and roof colours.

The electric roof has three settings: closed, half-open and fully open. Pressing the button above the rear-view mirror will automatically retract the roof to the C-pillar. Pressing it a second time will fully retract it, and pushing the button a third time will close it.

Furthermore, when closing the roof, double-pressing the button will stop the roof wherever the driver likes, and the roof can also be operated at speeds of up to 75mph so you can adjust it on the fly.

It mightn’t seem like much, but this is a significant advantage over many other cabriolets, where the roof can only be operated at low speeds and can force drivers to have to pull over should the rain come on.

Like the DS3 hatchback, the Cabrio is extremely sharp to drive, with smooth, accurate steering and little body roll.

The entry-level model is powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine that returns 57.6 miles per gallon, while there’s also three 1.6-litre engines including a frugal diesel that manages a fantastic 78.5mpg and emits only 95g/km of CO2.

With a 153bhp engine, the DSport model is the most powerful of the standard range, but it’ll still return 47.7mpg and emit 137g/km.

The Citroen DS3 Cabrio proves you can have style and substance in a small package and the carmaker has a long history of innovation. One inventive features is the DS3 Cabrio’s boot lid, which is fitted with a clever rotating hinge mechanism that allows it to swing up almost vertically, meaning the boot can be accessed in tight spots.

Space in the boot is impressive at 245 litres, making it just 40 litres smaller than the DS3 hatch and considerably bigger than many of its competitors, and there’s also space for a full five people inside despite its dinky proportions.

With prices starting from £15,325, the DS3 Cabriolet delivers plenty of punch and style at a price that won’t break the bank.

Mazda MX-5

Mazda’s MX-5 is one of the most legendary roadsters in the world. Since its unveiling back in 1989, the MX-5 has sold more than 900,000 units worldwide, making it the top-selling two person roadster on the planet.

After 25 years, the MX-5’s simple formula of front engine rear-wheel drive layout, good looks, low weight and punchy engines is still as popular as ever.

The latest model features a facelifted and restyle front end, along with a larger grille and new headlights.

Likewise, the interior has also seen an update, with redesigned graphics for the instrument displays and the inclusion of a decent range of standard equipment.

All trim levels received climate control, electric windows and remote central locking. Every model comes with cruise control as standard apart from the entry-level SE, which also comes with 16-inch alloy wheels while the rest of the trim levels get 17-inch alloys.

Available with a choice of two petrol engines, the newest MX-5 continues its legendary history of edge-of-your-seat driving experience with sharp handling and quick steering.

The 124bhp 1.8-litre version comes with a five-speed manual gearbox. The 2.0-litre 158bhp version can be specified with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted flappy paddles that can take you from 0-62mph in just over seven seconds.

Both engines are reasonably fuel-efficient as well, with the 1.8-litre having a combined cycle of 39.8mpg with 167g/km of CO2 emissions, while the 2.0-litre offers 36.2mpg and 181g/km of CO2.

However, given its sporty credentials, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the MX-5 wasn’t necessarily designed to be the most practical car in terms of usable space.

With only two seats, it’s essentially useless for anybody with children or with large loads to carry. The 150-litre boot is pretty puny and only good for a few shopping bags or rucksacks, though there is a decent amount of cabin storage thanks to various cubbyholes and compartments.

That said, the MX-5 isn’t the sort of car that anybody would buy with practicality in mind anyway and is instead designed for pure and simple driving pleasure.

Prices for the entry-level MX-5 SE begin at £18,495, making the MX-5 not only one of the most fun, but also cost-effective two-seater sports cars on the market.

Fiat 500C

Unashamedly retro, the Fiat 500 is one of the most popular and in-demand city cars on the road right now.

The convertible version takes the funky and street-smart chic of its hatchback sibling and adds a retractable fabric roof. Like the original, the modern 500C isn’t a conventional convertible, but instead comes with a full-length canvas sunroof that stretches over the top of the vehicle.

A choice of black, red or ivory fabric is available for the roof, which is coupled with a wide range of paint choices and custom graphics and decals, meaning that, like the DS3 Cabrio, the 500C is extremely customisable.

Like the outside, the interior is identical to the standard Fiat 500. There’s plenty of space, even in the back, for adults and a decent sized boot that has enough room for a few shopping bags.

Even the basic 500C Pop comes with air-conditioning, central locking and front electric windows, while moving up the trim range will add chrome trim, climate control, parking sensors and 15-inch alloy wheels.

Direct steering and small body dimension results in an agile drive, which is perfect for city commuters looking to nip through the town.

With the roof stowed and the sun shining, the Fiat 500C will bring a smile to any driver’s face with the same choice of TwinAir and Multijet diesel engines as in the regular hatchback, with all cars coming with stop-start technology as standard.

The award-winning turbocharged 875cc TwinAir offers sprightly performance and emits just 95g/km of CO2, giving free road tax and making it exempt from the London Congestion Charge.

Another standout engine, the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel unit, offers effortless torque, a combined fuel economy of 72.4mpg and emits just 104g/km.

With a starting price of around £12,000, the 500C is a little pricier than the hatchback model, but still much cheaper than a lot of its competitors.

Peugeot 308 CC

Peugeot is a leader in the field of coupe-cabriolets and makes more than anyone else.

As a result, the 308 CC is arguably the finest and best-built model that the carmaker has made yet, with a range of good engines and top-notch equipment specs.

Compared with its 307 predecessor, the 308 CC is sleeker looking and 3mm shorter at the wheelbase, and also comes with a longer roof panel. The advantage is less weight, less complexity and a bigger boot with more space with the roof down.

Inside, it’s roomier and better finished with a new dashboard moulding, attractive instrument panels along with chrome and aluminium highlights.

Leather upholstery comes as an option, which further adds to the premium feel and appeal of the 308 CC.

The roof folds in around 20 seconds, but can only be operated at speeds of up to 7.5mph, meaning that drivers will have to pull over to operate the roof when on the move.

Four trim levels offer plenty of equipment to choose from, with air conditioning, alloy wheels and Bluetooth connectivity as standard on all models. Moving up the range introduces cruise control, climate control as well as automatic lights and wipers, as well as parking sensors.

The top of the range models also come with a nifty feature that blows warm air down the back of your neck with the roof down, while the GT model has a slightly sportier styling.

A choice of 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines is available in the 308 CC.

The 2.0-litre HDi turbodiesel in the Peugeot 308 CC 161bhp and 340Nm of torque; an ample amount of thrust to pull the car along.

Meanwhile, the 1.6-litre THP petrol, available in both 154bhp and 197bhp formats, also provide a distinct and dynamic drive, with a top speed of around 133mph, while the HDi turbodiesel reaches a maximum of around 129mph.

There’s plenty of space as well, with decent sized door bins, a lidded cubby and console shelf, though boot capacity is slightly smaller than some of its rivals, with 226 litres with the roof down and 403 with the roof up.

Prices for the 308 CC start at £20,559, making it slightly more expensive than some of its competitors, but there are few cars that match the premium interior feel of the Peugeot at the same price point.

Jaguar XK Convertible

Looking like it would be right at home on the French Riviera more than any other Jag, the XK convertible  is without a doubt one of the classiest cabriolets on the market right now.

Of course, the premium convertible demands a premium price, but for those who can afford it there are few better choices.

The long, low bonnet and perky rear end are taken straight from the XK coupe, and is married to the sleek fabric roof, which folds down in around 20 seconds.

Leather and wood decks the interior of the XK Convertible, along with plenty of kit as standard including satellite-navigation, keyless starting, Bluetooth connectivity and dual-zone climate control.

There’s also a touchscreen centre console, from which many of the car’s functions can be controlled, along with electrically-adjustable seats and steering wheel.

A classic Jaguar throughout, the engine range for the XK Convertible comes in the following formats: quick, quicker and crazy-quick.

First in the lineup is a 308bhp 5.0-litre V8, and things only get more extreme from there, with two higher-powered versions of the same engine that produce 503bhp and 542bhp respectively, and a 0-62mph time of about five seconds.

Well-weighted and direct steering makes the XK convertible great to drive and agile through bends and around corners, while tweaked suspension will iron out even the coarsest of roads.

Not only is it incredibly pretty and incredibly fast, it’s also pretty practical when compared to its other cabriolet brethren. With as much boot space as a decent-sized supermini, there’s plenty of room for a few luggage bags, a decent amount of shopping or a couple of golf club bags.

Pricing for the XK convertible is high, as you’d expect from a luxury brand like Jaguar. The price tag for the basic model starts at around £60,975, while the top of the range model starts from £104,490.