Even if the summer isn’t a particularly warm or sunny one, soft top cars will continue to sell in their thousands. So which ones are expected to fly out of the showrooms this summer? Diesel, given their lower running costs are expected to be popular, and there we reveal the best five summer diesel drop tops.
On run out now, the A3 Cabriolet is due to be replaced by an all-new model in the spring. Available as Final Editions, these cars are likely to be sought after by Audi fans. Featuring a fabric roof, rather than a fashionable metal folding item, the A3 Cabriolet is a classy looking car. But buyers will need to be quick, as there’s only a last few available, starting at £22,885. The flagship A3 Cabriolet S line Final Edition 2.0 TDI costs more at £29,465.
One of the smaller diesel soft-tops around, this version of the cheery Fiat 500 is still pretty roomy considering its diminutive dimensions. It can actually accommodate four adults, even though the roof makes it harder for taller people to sit in the back. As for performance, the 1.3-litre MultiJet engine is quite punchy, pretty smooth, and it’s fun to drive with the roof down. Fuel economy of up to 76.3mpg is impressive too.
The replacement for the CLK Cabriolet, the E-Class is at the top of the tree for soft-top diesels. Just refreshed for 2013, the sleek new looks bring it bang up to date and in line with other models in the Mercedes-Benz line-up. It’s one of the more powerful diesel soft-tops around, with up to 248bhp available, or a more tax and fuel efficient 168bhp 2.1-litre edition. Prices start at £38,410, £3,370 more than the equivalent coupé.
The last time Vauxhall offered a large soft-top – the Cavalier Convertible – it was built by a specialist coachbuilder. But this time around, the Cascada is made in-house and makes use of a combination of Astra and Insignia underpinnings and is designed to go head to head with the A5 Cabriolet, at considerably less than Audi would charge. It’s one of the most economical full-size soft-tops around, with prices starting at £25,775.
The Volkswagen Beetle has legendary status amongst enthusiasts, and this year, there’s a Cabriolet version of last year’s all-new car. Designed to appeal to more male buyers, as well as its strong female following, the new edition is more practical than before. For a diesel edition, prices start at just over £20k, making it relatively affordable and powered by an economical 1.6-litre TDI engine. The more expensive 2.0-litre TDI versions deliver stronger performance with a 123mph top speed.
Whichever soft-top you choose, you’ll have fun, wind in the hair motoring all year around. The Fiat 500C and Volkswagen Beetle are the more affordable options, with the Vauxhall Cascada and Audi A3 taking the middle ground. Money no object and a larger budget, and you’ll be hard pressed to ignore the striking Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet.
Peter Fairfield is the co-founder and Director of Autoweb, one of Britain’s leading car classifieds sites. Peter has held various management roles in the car industry for 20 years; having come a long way from parking cars in distribution centres as a young man to launching Autoweb.co.uk in 2004, and now owning a Lotus Esprit that he loves very much!