RAC Cars News


5 Four-Seat Convertible Bargains

By raccars Published

At last the summery weather is here – so why not reward the family with a fun drop-top they can all enjoy!

The sun is finally here after what feels like a particularly long and chilly winter. Make the most of it by dashing straight out there and buying a soft-top car!

It may sound extravagant, but it need not be. Here at RAC Cars, we’ve been following the market and have picked out five convertibles with four seats and ready availability on the used market – all from as little as £2000.

It’s a treat the family will enjoy too: bring a little bit of that Cote d’Azur feel to your local high street with one of these bargain-priced convertibles…

Peugeot 206 CC (2001-on)

From £2500

What to look for: Leaking roof seals, rattling roof and side windows, odd electric chimes sounding from the dashboard

Why you’ll want one

The Peugeot 206’s cute, compact styling still looks good today. What’s more, the added advantage of a folding hard-top roof gives all-weather security and protection from the elements. Most 206s on the used market will be 1.6-litre or 2.0-litre petrols – don’t go out of your way to hunt down the bigger motor as the 1.6 is fine (although 2.0 cars are surprisingly well equipped).

However, although it’s technically a four-seater, the 206’s rear pews are suitable only really for children. Space is really tight in there, particularly with the roof up. The idea being, of course, that it’ll be down as much as possible…

10 Second Verdict

Cute, compact Peugeot is a perennial favourite and rightly so. Rear-seat passenger have to be child-sized though.

Saab 9-3 Convertible (2004-on)

From £3500

What to look for: Irregular oil changes on petrol engines, problematic 1.9 diesel engines, ‘lazy’ roof fold

Why you’ll want one

A classic convertible, the Saab drop-top is relatively ageless and some of the bright, sparking colours offered by the firm when new mean it still looks vibrant to modern eyes. As an executive car, all are very well equipped, but without the price tag of a comparable BMW or Mercedes alternative.

The turbo petrol engines give lots of pulling power and Saab offered several levels of power when new so look at the documents carefully to make sure you know what you’re getting. We’d choose an automatic over a manual as it’s smoother to drive. Don’t be too put off by the fact Saab’s since gone out of business – the former UK importer is now a parts distributor and has a healthy stock of items to keep modern Saabs on the road.

10 Second Verdict

The archetypal convertible car can still cut the mustard today. Pity the company that built it no longer exists.

Vauxhall Astra Cabriolet (2002-on)

From £2000

What to look for: Ignition problems, cracked exhaust manifolds, irregular cam belt changes

Why you’ll want one

One of the nation’s best-selling cars in hatchback guise, the Vauxhall Astra Convertible was a popular model when new – helped in no small part by a national TV advertising campaign showcasing the remote control roof operation! For this reason, make sure the batteries in the remote key still work…

It’s not the flashiest design on the market, and the interior is particularly dull and dreary, but there’s loads of space inside and the Astra is actually a pretty good drive. There’s lots of built-in reliability in those Vauxhall bits too, and its lack of flash badge means you’re getting a lot of car for your money. For added excitement, try the wheel-scrabbling Turbo model, but be warned: it may have been driven hard…

10 Second Verdict

Not the most exciting choice but the one likely to cause fewest headaches. Canvass roof doesn’t have folding hard-top security.

Renault Megane CC (2005-on)

From £2500

What to look for: General electrical problems, trim rattles, ignition problems

Why you’ll want one

Renault and Peugeot both offered their family hatchback models with modern folding hard-top roofs, giving them one-upmanship over cars such as the Vauxhall Astra Convertible. But of the two, only the Renault Megane CC had the pretty styling that’s key to desirability in this sector. Even today it remains a very neat-looking car, with the fancy roof blending in with the rest of the car design well.

These models don’t have the best reputation for reliability and the very high equipment levels of some Meganes can magnify this. They’re generally pretty strong mechanically though, particularly the petrol manual models, and depreciation has ensured they are today extremely affordable buys. Get one as young as possible and you’ll have a lot of car for the money.

10 Second Verdict

Good-looking French car has the added bonus of folding hard-top convenience but they do show their age if driven hard.

BMW 3 Series Convertible E46 (2000-on)

From £4000

What to look for: Rusty front wings, problematic turbodiesel models, suspension problems

Why you’ll want one

If you want a premium badge, only the BMW will do. The 3 Series Convertible was a popular model when new, coinciding with the era of the high-volume 3 Series: as such, there are lots of them on the used market, with prices starting from under £4000. You can choose from a huge range of engines too, from 1.8-litre petrol motor to 3.0-litre six-cylinders and even a choice of diesels.

The car’s styling oozes class, the interior is a real cut above and the rear-drive chassis delivers an exceptional drive. This is a high-quality driver’s car that can’t help but make you feel special. It can get expensive if it hasn’t been looked after though, so be careful if you’re buying at the budget end – suspension problems can quickly run into four figures and the diesel engines can be particularly troublesome if not looked after. A full service history is crucial here.

10 Second Verdict

Premium class without a premium price tag – but problems will be a premium-rate cost if you don’t check carefully…

General things to look for

  • Does the electric roof go up and down smoothly without making too much noise?
  • Are there any signs of leaks?
  • Has the interior trim been beached by sunlight?
  • Does the interior trim show signs of water damage?

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