Conservative and understated styling has helped the Audi S4 to age well. In fact, you’d fool many into thinking that it remains on sale today — and for a hefty sum. It’s well made, has a classy-feeling interior and allows you to cruise along in comfort while enjoying high levels of refinement. To add to the appeal, there’s a stonking 4.2-litre V8 that sends its 339bhp through all four wheels to propel the S4 to 60mph in just 5.7sec. Speed means thirst, however, so be aware that running costs will be relatively high.
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The A4 range has, to date, been reliable, but ensure that the fabric roof is in good nick and all switches work correctly. A 10-year-old S4 that has covered 71,000 miles could be yours for less than £9000.
Ford StreetKa (1996-2009)
If you’re on a budget and want something for a bit of fun, you’d do well to take a look at the little StreetKa. Fords are traditionally great to drive and this open-top one is no exception. It handles keenly, grips well and has accurate, direct steering. The 1.6-litre engine isn’t a traffic-light champion, but it’s zippy enough to keep you entertained.
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The StreetKa is cheap to run thanks to decent fuel economy figures and a low insurance group. However, watch out for suspension issues and internal water damage, both traits of careless owners. A 10-year-old, 50,000-mile example can be had for less than £1000.
Volkswagen Eos (2006-2015)
Four seats, a folding hard-top, brand kudos, handsome looks, plenty of engines to choose from, good road manners… the Eos has it all. It’s based on the previous-generation Golf, but the Eos is a better-looking alternative with roof-shedding abilities for when the sun comes out, and you can still take the family with you. It handles competently, with plenty of grip on offer, and body lean is kept to a minimum.
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The impressive roof can, occasionally, be the Eos’s Achilles heel, so make sure you check for leaks, squeaks, and rattles. This all-season family car can be on your drive for less than £4000. We found a 2006 2.0 FSI model with 62,000 miles on the clock for that sum.
Jaguar XKR (2006-2015)
Picture it: the sky is blue, the sun’s dipping towards the horizon and you’re in a convertible Jaguar driving through lush green countryside, with the wind in your hair. It’s an evocative thought. Not only that, but a 4.2-litre V8 with 420bhp is at your beck and call, ready to send a throaty roar through its quad exhausts when you mash the accelerator. You’ll be treated to rewarding handling, a well-judged ride, and a luxurious interior.
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Be prepared, though, to dig deep to keep it on the road, because running costs are pretty steep. Before you buy, check the electrics and roof operation thoroughly, too. We found a 2007 example with 92,000 miles for £17,500.