Britain is a nation that loves to go topless when the sun comes out, despite the fact that we live in one of the wettest countries on the planet.
There’s nothing like a sunny day to help you appreciate a great convertible, and despite our mixed climate, more drop-tops are sold here than in any other European country.
Here are our three favourite convertibles on the market right now, and the reasons why you should consider them…
The MINI Convertible adds its own roofless charm to the already cheeky and fun MINI formula. It’s still terrific fun to drive, with the loss of its roof having no real adverse effect on its handling, while it also enjoys exceptionally good levels of build quality and refinement.
It’s a five-seater at an absolute squeeze and is even cramped as a four-seater, but it’s marginally more practical than the other two cars here, while it also has a wider engine range, including a naturally-aspirated three-cylinder 1.5, a 2.0-litre four and a 1.5 diesel.
Cooper S and John Cooper Works models are available if you want more power and greater styling, but the standard Cooper is by far the most popular (and most sensible) option.
Being a MINI, the personalisation choices are also near-limitless.
The archetypal sports car, the current generation of MX-5 is every bit as good as its predecessors.
With almost perfect balance, rear-wheel-drive, and truly brilliant steering, it’s an absolute joy in which to blast along, while the two engine options available (1.5-litre 129bhp and 2.0-litre 158bhp) are both decent enough to give it a suitable amount of power without making it dangerous or undriveable.
It’s a sports car in the traditional mould, but also with some neat modern features, such as a touchscreen infotainment system and keyless entry and ignition.
For the purist, it’s available as a traditional two-door soft-top, but also as the arguably prettier ‘RF’ model, which stands for ‘Retractable Fastback’ and allows it to be either a cabriolet or a coupe, depending on the weather.
Fiat 124 Spider
In many ways, the Fiat 124 Spider offers the best of both worlds, combining Japanese engineering with Italian styling flair.
As a result, it’s achingly pretty inside and out, with an ornate and stylish cabin and sinuous body curves. The chassis is shared with the Mazda MX-5, which means it handles brilliantly, while the 138bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged engine is sufficient to give it the power it needs without being over-the-top.
It’s small, nimble and great to drive, as well as being beautiful to look at. The only downside is that it’s strictly a two-seater, and also that it’s imported in limited numbers, so you may need to wait a few months when you place an order. It’s worth the wait.
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Which should I choose?
From a pure driver’s perspective, the Mazda MX-5 is the best car here. It’s engines are better suited to spirited driving than the Fiat’s, although the 124 Spider runs it close by virtue of sharing the MX-5s platform and exquisite handling.
What makes it harder to choose, though, is the Fiat’s beguiling looks. The MX-5 is a good looking car, but the 124 Spider is a truly great looking car, and that will be enough to swing it for many.
Which leaves the MINI. A car with sports car-like handling, cheeky good looks and room for occasional rear seat passengers, along with a wide range of prices, engines and options. Even against such strong competition, as an overall contender it’s the car that gets our vote.