We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

buying advice

€20k budget for a convertible? Here are 4 you need to consider

Summer is here, after all.

THE ARRIVAL OF summer has brought some much-improved weather and with that, the desire to seek some open-top motoring.

After all, who doesn’t daydream of cruising along a great road with the roof down in the glorious sunshine?

Perhaps more shrewd buyers will have tried to bag a soft-top bargain during the winter months when values take a bit of a dive along with the temperature… but if you’re looking for some instant gratification, here’s our look at the best convertibles for under €20k.

1. Audi A3 Cabriolet (2008-2013)

DoneDeal DoneDeal

Perhaps not the most obvious choice, but certainly one of the classier looking convertibles on the market. This first generation Audi A3 didn’t sell in huge numbers, but they do come up for sale regularly enough.

The A3 is based mainly on the Volkswagen Golf MkV underpinnings. It is a four-seater, but those in the rear don’t get that much legroom. One of the other downsides is the boot, which is tricky to access when the roof is down.

Find one of the 1.6-litre TDI engined models (from 2009 onwards), and you’ll enjoy economic driving – you won’t have the pleasure of quite as nice an engine note as the petrol version, but these only accounted for around ten percent of sales. While it’s not the sportiest of cars to drive it does provide good ride quality and has an upmarket appearance that will appeal to some.

See cars on the market now

2. MINI Cooper Convertible (2004-2008)

DoneDeal DoneDeal

The first generation MINI Convertible remains one of the most fun-to-drive soft tops that isn’t a sports car. It was available in standard, Cooper and Cooper S models, with the latter being the more potent. You can spot a Cooper S by its distinctive bonnet scoop, which helped feed air into the engine. Powering the Cooper S was a supercharged engine that gave plenty of performance and had quite a unique engine note. Its handling makes it good fun to drive without being overtly sporty.

It is a car of compromises, however. Whether the roof is up or down, rear visibility is limited as is the boot space. The upside is that you get styling that still looks good today and with MINI having offered so many different colour and spec combinations at the time, there should be something out there to suit your taste.

See cars on the market now

3. Mazda MX-5 (1998-2005)

DoneDeal DoneDeal

The Mazda MX-5 is ubiquitous on any list involving convertibles, and with good reason. This little two-seater is a cracking car to drive, and the second generation – or NB model to Mazda aficionados – is probably the best one to have. Early first-generation models are harder to come by (especially ones that haven’t been molested by would-be tuners) while others may not have escaped common rust problems. The second generation shipped with a choice of 110hp 1.6-litre or a 190hp 1.8-litre engine. Post-2001 models saw both engines gain slight power increases.

With the MX-5 being such a simple car the main things to watch out for any obvious mechanical issues and cosmetic ones. The manually-operated fabric roof mechanism shouldn’t cause any problems but do check for any rips or tears, as it can be particularly costly to replace if you use original parts. Thankfully, some specialists can re-trim the roof if needed. Mechanically these cars are quite robust, so don’t be too put off by higher mileage examples.

See cars on the market now

4. Mercedes-Benz CLK Cabriolet (2004-2009)

DoneDeal DoneDeal

Considering that many examples of this second-generation CLK Cabriolet cost upwards of €50,000 when new, they now represent something of a bargain. Most of the models sold in Ireland were the smaller 1.8-litre petrol. However, there were also 3.0-litre versions sold in smaller numbers from 2005 onwards.

It is a quick car and is great over longer distances thanks to its softer suspension setup.

Adding to that comfort is the fact that the majority of models sold came equipped with automatic transmissions… and with these cars selling during peak Celtic Tiger, they generally come with high levels of equipment fitted too.

See cars on the market now

More: €20k budget? Here are the premium cars you need to consider>