Top 3 roadsters
Best buys archive
Which are the best for that wonderful, wind-in-the-hair feeling that only a roofless car gives? Check out our top buys1: Mazda MX-5
This fantastic little two-seater has worked the trick of growing up without getting fat or slow. Latest models are comfier and better all-rounders than the originals, but they’ve kept that same, great drive-by-instinct feel. The exhaust has kept its wonderful rasp, the steering still has its direct responses. Popping through the gears is wonderfully slick and easy, while that rear-drive chassis chatters to the driver so you’ll know just much you can safely push things. However, one of the best things about driving an MX-5 is that you don’t have to go fast to enjoy it: a trip through commuter traffic will be almost as pleasurable as a blast along rural lanes. Topping it off is a snug fabric roof that’s so easy to open – pop a catch, push it back and you’re done. If you want full-on weather protection, there’s now also a version with a retractable steel roof. Verdict *****
2: Porsche Boxster
Forget the money it costs, ignore the ‘look-at-me’ brashness of the Porsche badge. This is, quite simply, a memorable car to drive. It responds instantly, feels perfectly balanced as you pilot it and it just oozes effortless class. It’s easy to live with and tough enough to drive every day and in all weathers. Even the cheapest model has all of this, so much that it’s hard to make a case for spending more on one. There are good real-world reasons for buying one, too. A three-year-old Boxster still fetches seven-tenths of what it originally cost, making the all-up price of owning one much lower than that of many cheaper, and more humdrum cars. It would take top slot here, but for the fact that the MX-5 delivers nine-tenths of the same fun for half the price.
3: Mini Convertible
The Mini earns a slot because it’s Britain’s top-selling soft-top. Although it’s the only car here to offer four seats, space in the back pair is cramped and the boot’s tiny. What’s more, the pram-like hood restricts visibility so badly, whether up or down, that L-drivers aren’t allowed to take their tests in one. Despite all that, the Mini wins a place here because of its cute looks and spirited road manners. There are good common-sense reasons for owning one, too. Like the Boxster, the Mini loses value slowly, a fact that keeps Mini ownership costs entirely sensible. It also benefits from Mini’s TLC package, which offers five-year’s servicing at a tiny cost if you pre-pay.