One For The Road: A fun, top-down upgrade on a Clio


Annelle Ryan wants to trade up from a Renault Clio to something more fun to drive, but reliable. She has £9,000 to spend.

A Car for the Head

I know that Annelle wants to save up for a flat and perhaps she should run the Clio into the ground. Having said that, she will only be young once, so why not have a more interesting car? She mentioned having the top down, but I think a conventional tin top can be just as exciting to own and drive. For that reason I would suggest the Suzuki Swift. Here's a fun little car that is often dressed up by owners with stripes and extras, and it has a winning personality and superb handling, plus a reputation for reliability. The 1.2 is cheap to run, insure (group 8E) and tax, plus going for the SZ3 specification means air-conditioning is standard. The budget will easily buy a near-new example that has covered a low mileage. So, that'll be a 2011 1.2 SZ3 with around 2,000 miles.

A Car for the Heart

If Annelle wants the open air, then the best way to enjoy it would be in a Mini Convertible. I don't want to suggest the Cooper on the grounds that it would be a bit pricier to insure. So the basic Mini One Convertible will do. It is the most economical Mini, officially managing almost 40mpg, and it actually isn't that much slower than the Cooper. Just like the hatchback, the Convertible is fun to drive, with lots of grip, so it always feels perfectly safe. Unlike a lot of convertibles it feels solid on the road with no shakes. One of the cleverest things about the Mini Convertible is the hood, which is simplicity itself to use at the touch of a button. The budget will buy a 2007 example with a very reasonable 26,000 miles on the clock from an independent dealer with a warranty.

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.