Peter Dunwoodie is 62, and after three years enjoying a Z4 roadster he wants to be more sociable. However he does not want to sacrifice the open top. Hence he is looking to move to a 2+2, which could carry the occasional friend or two. Peter and his partner would like something a bit quieter, too, for motorway driving. With a budget of £25,000, Peter is happy to consider new or used, but fears that more space and less noise will be an impossible combination.

A car for the head

There are more convertibles on the market than ever before, and refinement seems to be the guiding principle for most of them – especially the models that can seat four. The increase in the number with folding metal roofs increases the chances of buying a car that, during the winter months and bad weather, can turn into a coupé. An obvious choice could be the Volvo C70, which has a full metal roof. The rear seats might be considered to be on the small side, but for the occasional times when Peter is going to have friends on board they will be perfectly adequate. In the refinement stakes, the Volvo is excellent with the roof up, and there is not very much buffeting at all when it is down. There are four engine options – from petrol turbos to diesel – and without being overtly sporty it is good to drive. The C70 is relatively good value and Peter may be able to get a good deal on a brand new model. A recently registered example would certainly be within budget. Indeed, a very well equipped 2010 D SE Lux manual, with just under 2,000 miles on the clock is £24,990 from a Volvo dealer with a pretty much full manufacturer's warranty.

A car for the heart

Although a Mercedes CLK would be the obvious choice for those after some prestige, and possibly has the most room for passengers, there may be a better option. I know that size is an issue, so perhaps a more compact and higher quality Audi A4 convertible (pictured) would be the answer? This is no longer a current model, replaced by the A5, but it still sets a high standard for refinement, build quality, and has a very well made hood. The lack of metal roof does not make a difference, as the triple layer hood keeps out all the noise and weather. Its main rival has always been the BMW 3 series, and although the A4 may not be as much fun to drive, the reality is that for buyers in this category comfort is the priority. There are plenty of engine options, from petrol turbos through to large V6s and V8s, and also some diesel options. The 2.0 TDI delivers 44mpg overall, and that's the engine fitted to the final edition model. It should be possible to buy one with less than 5,000 miles on the clock for £22,990. It has sat nav, black leather interior, DVD, a Bose sound system, and an iPod socket. I think that Peter and his partner will love it.

Looking to buy?

Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested and your budget.

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