On a sunny day, with the open road ahead of you, nothing beats driving a convertible and feeling the wind rushing through your hair. But before taking the plunge, you need to decide whether the car you buy is going to be purely for weekend summer thrills, or whether it will be pressed into service all year round.
This will help you choose between a fabric or metal roof. Soft-tops are often more entertaining to drive, as they’re lighter, plus their styling isn’t compromised by a cumbersome folding mechanism. But as refined as modern fabric hoods are, a folding hard-top gives the feel of a conventional car when in place, and there are fewer concerns about security – although these designs are increasingly going out of fashion.
Another consideration is the number of seats you'll need. Most convertibles seat two people, which is no use if they’re likely to be used as family runarounds in an emergency. While four-seater cabriolets don’t offer genuine space for four adults with the roof in place over anything but short journeys, their extra practicality can come in handy.
Also think about how much boot space you will need. Some cars in this class fold the roof on top of the bodywork, so it doesn’t affect the load capacity; others leave you with barely any room when the top is down. That top needs to be easy to fold, too. Although nearly all modern convertibles have automatic roofs, some require catches to be unclipped first, which can be fiddly, while others are fully automatic and even allow you to drop the roof when the car is moving.
To add to your comfort with the top down, look out for wind deflectors – these allow you to have a conversation with passengers even at speed – while some higher-spec models come with heated seats and even neck warmers to make open-air fun practical all year round.