Each three of these cars has something to recommend it, so the chances are you won’t regret choosing either of them with which to enjoy the long, lazy days of summer.
The Peugeot 308 CC, for example, has the biggest boot, the quietest, smoothest engine, and protects its occupants well against wind buffeting. It’s also by far the cheapest to buy, and should lose you the least cash come resale time; what’s more, it’s the least expensive to service, too, and it enjoys a respectable reputation for reliability.
However, cheapest does not always equal best, and indeed, that’s the case here. The 308 doesn’t drive as well as the opposition and it’s far more cramped in the back. What’s more, its higher tax and running costs make a dent in the financial good sense it seems to offer. As such, while it’s a good bet if you’re buying on a budget, it has to finish a close third in this test.
The Volkswagen Golf and the Audi A3 are very similar cars beneath the skin, which means you’ll enjoy broadly similar benefits from both of them. Both are spacious, cheap to run and comfortable, though the Audi trades some of that comfort for agility. It also boasts the lowest fuel consumption here, not to mention arguably the classiest looks.
However, the Audi’s extra cost is high – too high, realistically, to make it recommendable over the Golf. What’s more, its poor rear visibility and lack of rear parking sensors make parking a bit of a struggle, and that firm ride isn’t entirely becoming of the practical, sensible convertible it's supposed to be.
Which means the Golf takes victory here. Granted, its engine note can get a little rough at times, and isn’t as much fun to drive as the Audi.
But it does at least handle more tidily than the Peugeot; combined with its classier interior, faster roof and better fuel consumption, that makes it worth the price premium over the French car. And while the Golf isn’t quite as rounded a package as the Audi, it is – as you’d expect – incredibly similar. That it’s available for significantly less cash should therefore fill you with the joys of spring.
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For Comfortable ride; classy, roomy interior; reasonable price
Against Most body roll; rough engine note
Verdict A fine convertible that won’t cost the earth to buy and run
2nd – Audi A3 Cabriolet
For Agile handling; high fuel economy; fast roof; space for four
Against High price; costly depreciation; no standard parking sensors; firm ride
Verdict Quieter and more nimble than the Golf, but not worth the extra cost
3rd – Peugeot 308 CC
For Little road or engine noise; unruffled cockpit; biggest boot; low price
Against Slow roof; vague steering; too much body flex with roof down
Verdict The budget option, and a decent one too, but not the best
Specifications: Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet 1.6 TDI 105 SE
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
List price when new £23,245
Price today £8500
Torque 184lb ft@1750rpm
Top speed 113mph
Fuel economy 64.2mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 117g/km
Specifications: Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.6 TDI 105 Sport
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
List price when new £24,260
Price today £10,000
Torque 184lb ft
Top speed 112mph
Fuel economy 65.7mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 114g/km
Specifications: Peugeot 308 CC 1.6 e-HDI Active
Engine size 1.6-litre petrol/diesel
List price when new £23,565
Price today £7000
Torque 199lb ft
Top speed 117mph
Fuel economy 57.7mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 128g/km
Price today is based on a 2012 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
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