The Ten Best: Convertible cars

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Indy Lifestyle Online

1 Saab 9-3, £24,900

Inside, you'd never believe you were under a soft-top, so relaxingly plush is the interior trim. The handling is crisp and precise (it even steers a little via the rear wheels), there's ample power on tap, and the electronic ragtop's a cinch to operate. Rear passengers also get a decent amount of space. And what a looker it is.

(0845 300 9395;

2 Vauxhall Tigra, £13,995

The little wedge-shaped Tigra isn't the nippiest two-seater by a long shot, but it cruises along effortlessly enough, handles reassuringly and is generally pleasing to drive. It's also comfortable and fairly spacious. The metal roof certainly comes in handy during the winter months, and as for the super-quick heater system... a blast furnace springs to mind.

(0845 600 1500;

3 Honda S2000, £26,730

Hondas are renowned for their reliability, and this exquisitely balanced and blisteringly quick soft-top roadster is no exception. Its V-Tech engine kicks out an impressive 237bhp, yet it doesn't really come on song until the revs hit the frankly outrageous 8,300rpm mark. It has a decent-sized boot, and quite possibly the most logical dashboard of any car you can buy.

(0845 200 8000;

4 Mercedes-Benz SLK 350, £34,930

The SLK is simply stunning, from its benchmark retractable hard-top to the way it transforms from easy-going cruiser to sweet-sounding V6 performance car in the blink of an eye. This car doesn't accelerate, it pounces. It's immaculately appointed, with comfortable seats and a superb driving position. And it looks like it was shaped by the wind. Matchless.

(00800 1777 7777;

5 Peugeot 307CC, £16,995

You won't break the sound barrier with the new 307 coupé cabriolet - its quiet two-litre unit struggles with the extra weight of the collapsible metal roof - but you will notice the smooth controls and plush suspension. Like the little Tigra, the 307's better suited to cruising. Unlike the Tigra, you can at least share the ride with a pair of back-seat passengers.

(0845 200 1234;

6 Nissan 350Z Roadster, £27,000

With the ragtop roof down, the 350Z is one of the most beautiful roadsters on the forecourt. It's also one of the most sensually rewarding to drive. True, the whine of the 287bhp V6 engine has been known to annoy, but there are no reservations about the car's handling characteristics and its snug driving position. Scorching stuff.

(01923 899 334;

7 Caterham Roadsport SV, £19,995

When it comes to open-air driving, few come close to the Caterham for sheer exhilaration. It's hardly practical, but come sunshine, roll up the crude cloth roof and indulge in one of the most sensational drives on earth.

(01883 333700;

8 Audi TT Quattro Roadster, £30,960

The four-wheel-drive 3.2 V6 version of Audi's ubiquitous TT - here in rag-top form - has one particular ace up its sleeve: a unique double-clutch system. The gearbox shifts through gears seamlessly and with no change in engine note. And the acceleration is breathtaking.

(0845 769 9777;

9 BMW M3, £43,880

The highly tuned and undeniably flamboyant M3 combines four-seats-and-a-boot practicality with the power (all 343bhp of it) and handling of a true performance car. The stiff pedals and gearbox might be considered too manly for some, but what a thrill it is to drive.

(0800 325 600;

10 Volvo C70, £24,880

This powerful 2.4-litre, four-seater convertible is remarkably quick to accelerate, confident enough in the handling arena and, above all, luxuriously spacious for four. And it looks as appealing with the cloth roof up as it does with it down. A new model is due out next year.

(0800 400 430;

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