One For The Road: A convertible that's also practical


Peter Barnes has been looking forward to the summer and wants to enjoy the open air in a convertible he can use to commute. He has £6,000 to spend.

A Car for the Head

Is a convertible car ever truly practical? It will probably always be a compromise, especially when it comes to luggage. Reliability and comfort are the priorities in this case. When it comes to style and refinement it has to be the Audi A4. Here is a car that is a byword for build quality and always feels special. It is also less common than a BMW 3 Series, which for some buyers is a good thing, although the A4 isn't as good to drive. But for open-air quality it is hard to be beat, and better value than a Mercedes. With the hood down, the boot is a lot shallower but that's because the roof is in there. There is even a diesel option, a 2.5TDI that combines economy and power. Peter's £6,000 buys a 2003 example.

A Car for the Heart

It is generally acknowledged that the best all-round roadster is the Mazda MX-5.

Essentially you will be getting a sports car which is an intoxicating yet utterly practical package. The great thing about the MX-5 is that it is not a compromise convertible, so driver and passenger do not have to suffer for going topless. Good-quality trim, comfortable seats and a larger-than-average boot make the car very practical indeed. The ride and refinement levels are good, plus the easy-to-erect hood all mean that owning an MX-5 is a doddle. Its reliability record has been outstanding, as it is a simple, well-built car with a hood that is very easy to use. It is also great value: £6,000 will buy a 2005 example with low miles and a hardtop for winter. That's the perfect combination for Peter.

Looking to buy?

Email James Ruppert at onefortheroad, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.