What convertible to buy
* 10 best cabriolets to buy this summer * Convertibles for a range of budgets * Two-seaters, four-seaters, metal roofs and soft-tops...
Tempted to buy a cabriolet to make the most of the warm weather? We've put together a list of the 10 best convertible cars for a range of budgets.
Top of our convertible list is the new Porsche Boxster.
The new Boxster is bigger than the previous model, yet also lighter and more efficient - and it's utterly sensational: one of the few cars to earn a What Car? five-star rating. The Porsche Boxster makes you feel like a hero when you're at speed, and makes you feel cool when you're just bumbling about.
Yes, it is expensive to buy - prices start at 37,589 - and yes it could do with a bit more standard kit. Be in no doubt though, no matter what your mood, the Boxster will be a superb companion. The Boxster S is the version to go for.
Porsche Boxster - our favourite convertible
The Mazda MX-5 is another five-star car in our view, but with prices starting at 17,995 it's far more affordable than the Porsche.
Fun , agility and bullet-proof build quality mean the Mazda MX-5 has everything you could ask from a roadster. The 1.8i SE (AC) version is the model to go for - it's relatively cheap to buy and run, making it no-frills open-top motoring at its best.
Mazda MX-5: Huge amounts of fun for not much cash
Want a convertible with a little more class? The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet oozes quality and is practical enough to seat four people in comfort.
Its Aircap system - pop-up wind deflectors for the front and rear work really well when the roof's down; rear passengers enjoy almost the same gale-free comforts as those in the front.
We'd go for the E350 CDI SE. The smooth V6 diesel engine mated to a seven-speed automatic gearbox suits this car perfectly, and the standard suspension is superbly supple. This model costs 40,470, but the range starts at just over 35,000.
Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet: Refined with soft top up or down
Next on our list of great convertibles is the Audi TT Roadster. It's a proper soft-top sports car that's fantastic to drive and affordable to own.
The TT Roadster is solidly built looks great inside and out, and is fantastic to drive thanks to its sharp handling and punchy engines. The 2.0 TFSI Sport the best TT - the engine is smooth and really torquey - and it's even better if you forget the quattro four-wheel-drive, DSG semi-auto gearbox and over-firm S line suspension options.
The Porsche 911 Cabriolet is yet another five-star car and, if you can afford it - it starts at just under 80,000 - it's a brilliant convertible.
The 911 Cabriolet will cover long distances with ease, but its wicked side comes out when you want to go for a blast. It'll also make you look good when you're in the mood for a low-speed pose.
The Cabriolet feels fractionally more relaxed than its coupe sibling, so the optional PDK semi-auto gearbox is probably the way to go. With that in mind, we'd stick with the entry-level Carrera, rather than the quicker Carrera S, if only because you can use slightly more of its performance more of the time. Both cars are mightily quick, though.
If you're after a convertible that's a little less frantic, we highly recommend the Audi A3 Cabriolet.
It's hard to think of a more desirable soft-top at this price, or one with such a quick electric roof - it takes just 11 seconds to operate. It's good to drive, too - Audi has managed to transfer much of the agile handling and composed ride of the A3 hatch over to the cabriolet.
Sport versions of the A3 cabriolet get a thicker roof than standard models, and this keeps wind noise down when the roof is up. There's not much buffeting for front-seat occupants when the roof is stowed, either.
We'd recommend opting for the 1.8 TFSI petrol engine in Sport trim, which combines strong performance, reasonable running costs and decent kit.
Audi A3 Cabriolet: Takes just 11 seconds to operate the roof
At the other end of Audi's scale is the R8 V10 Spyder.
The R8 delivers monumental performance, a sensational soundtrack and phenomenal handling. Ally this to first-class refinement and comfort, and it's hard to think of a more useable everyday drop-head supercar.
There's a lot to like about the BMW Z4, too. It looks and drives like a proper sports car, and it makes you feel special every time you get in.
The Z4 has a folding metal roof (rather than a fabric hood) which means it's quieter than most of its rivals. There's less wind noise than in an Audi TT Roadster, for example, and there isn't much buffeting in al fresco mode, either. The sDrive20i is the version to go for. It costs less than 30,000 and the 181bhp 2.0-litre engine pulls strongly from low revs. It manages to deliver a great mix of comfort and control, too, combining a slick ride with agile, grippy handling.
BMW Z4: Great cabin and little wind noise with the roof in place
If you are after a luxurious and capable long-distance tourer, take a look at the BMW 6 Series Convertible.
The vast majority of buyers will go for the 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel model. Its gutsy engine makes acceleration effortless, aided by an eight-speed automatic gearbox that always seems to be in the right ratio.
Rounding out our top 10 convertibles is the the Mini Roadster.
It's a two-seat, soft-top convertible that puts style and fun above all else, much like the iconic MX-5.
The Roadster's fabric hood is only partially electric, so you need to twist and release a central handle at the top of the windscreen before pressing a button to fold the roof down. It's a pretty painless operation, though, and the roof can be raised at speeds of up to 20mph.
The Roadster is by no means perfect, but it is huge fun, so it's easy to forgive its many eccentricities.
Mini Roadster: a hoot to drive