Summer is literally just around the corner. So what better time to buy a new convertible? These days, virtually every car manufacturer has joined the profitable coupé-cabriolet ranks, and there's plenty of choice available.
All of which could make life more difficult for the Ford Focus CC. It's a late arrival to the market, but as with all Ford products, it looks a capable contender, with entry-level versions undercutting both the Vauxhall Astra TwinTop and VW Eos on price.
Yet when we tested the Focus CC diesel against those rivals in Issue 954, the results were disappointing, and the Ford was relegated to last place in the race for honours. So can this flagship 143bhp 2.0-litre petrol CC-3 do a better job of impressing us?
You might think that with styling by Pininfarina, the Focus would draw admiring glances everywhere it goes. But we found that wasn't the case.
While many of its key competitors employ three-piece hoods, the Ford adopts a less compact two-section version, which has left the car with an ungainly rear end and a huge deck. Factor in some glitzy chrome on the bootlid and awkwardly large tail-lights, and the model isn't a recipe for head-turning on the high street.
Inside, there's no change in the dash layout over the standard Focus. Optional tan leather trim brightens things up, but you'll have to pay a £1,000 premium for the privilege. Up front, the driving position is good, yet the way the steeply raked windscreen arcs back over the driver can mean it's easy to bang your head when getting out with the top down. In the back, both headroom and legroom are in short supply. You can blame the bulky two-piece roof for the latter. This also robs boot space, as the luggage area shrinks to only 248 litres with the hood folded from a healthy 534 litres when it's in place.
There are a number of pleasant touches, though. Fail to shut the bootlid and electric motors pull it closed so you don't have to worry. The hood operation is equally smooth - fully automatic, it stows away neatly in just under 30 seconds.
On the move, the first things you notice about the CC are how good all-round visibility is and the preciseness of the steering, brakes and gearbox. Over bumps, the whole structure feels reassuringly stiff. That's because the all-new Ford has piled on the pounds; as a result, the CC doesn't provide the agility or steering delicacy of the hatchback model.
What suffers most, though, is the performance. The 2.0-litre petrol unit struggles, with its 184Nm of torque feeling weak compared to the TDCi diesel's 340Nm. Yet it's smooth, and has low overall noise levels.
Equipment on the top CC-3 spec is generous: climate control, 17-inch alloys and six-CD changer are all standard. But even with keen prices, Ford's new coupé-cabrio does little to stand out in an already crowded market.