With funky looks, premium quality and low running costs – frivolity has never been so sensible. Or so desirable
This summer has been a washout, but happily our convertible champion brings a ray of sunshine to the roads.
Funky retro styling and a distinctive interior mark the VW Beetle out, while composed dynamics and top-notch quality prove it’s got the substance to match its style.
Thanks to an upright windscreen, you get more wind-in-the-hair thrills than in rivals, yet you won’t be blown around too much in the cabin.
Roof-up refinement is just as vital in the UK – and the VW doesn’t disappoint, with a beautifully executed fabric hood. So much so that you’ll hardly notice the difference between it and the regular Beetle.
Folding the roof couldn’t be simpler – all it takes is the press of a button and 13 seconds. Rear visibility is good and boot space isn’t affected by the roof’s position, so you can lower it at any opportunity.
If you’re worried that chopping the roof off has resulted in lots of wobbles and creaks, then the Beetle should put your mind at rest – the solid Cabriolet copes with twisty, rutted and potholed British B-roads brilliantly.
On top of all this, you get to enjoy low running costs and some of the best petrol and diesel engines that money can buy. Frivolity has never made so much sense.
Our choice: 1.2 TSI Design (£20,800) Mixing eager performance with extremely impressive fuel economy, the 1.2-litre TSI turbo petrol engine makes most sense in the Beetle. So do the nostalgic looks and generous amount of standard kit you get with Design models.
Porsche 911 Carrera
The soft-top 911 is closer to the coupé in dynamic terms than ever before, and with the fabric hood in place, the body’s evocative shape is retained. Lower the roof and you can enjoy the distinctive sound of the flat-six engine close up.
If you want something less extrovert than the Beetle, look no further than the Golf Cabriolet. Last year’s champ blends the hatchback’s traditional strengths – such as good refinement and decent practicality – with some top-down fun.
- 1Introduction18 class winners, 36 commended cars, 8 Special Awards and the 2013 Auto Express Car of the Year – it's all here
- 2Car of the YearThe most coveted accolade in the world of motoring goes to the SEAT Leon
- 3Best City CarThe Skoda Citigo retains its Best City Car crown thanks to a combination of comfort, low running costs and superb on-road ability
- 4Best SuperminiThe Ford Fiesta wrestles its way back onto the top of the podium after last year's loss to the 208
- 5Best Compact Family CarThe SEAT Leon fights off its fellow VW Group rivals to take the gold medal in one of the most competitive classes around
- 6Best Family CarThe new Mazda 6 sees of all-comers to take family car class honours
- 7Best Estate CarOffering peerless practicality, huge value for money and attractive lines, the Skoda Octavia is the best Estate on the market
- 8Best Five-Seat MPVFord's innovative small MPV pips its big brother – the C-MAX – to the Best Five-seat MPV award
- 9Best MPVFor the third year in a row, the SEAT Alhambra wins the Auto Express Best MPV award
- 10Best CrossoverThe Mazda CX-5 is a talented all-rounder that offers everything you could want from a crossover
- 11Best Compact SUVThe Range Rover Evoque is one of the most striking cars on the road – but it's also more than just a pretty face
- 12Best Large SUVThe talented Santa Fe is one of the best models Hyundai has ever produced
- 13Best Hot HatchThe Ford Fiesta ST is in a class of its own – and better value for money than its key rivals
- 14Best CoupeThe brilliant Porsche Cayman pips its big brother - the 911 – and three-time winner the Peugeot RCZ to the Best Coupe prize
- 15Best RoadsterThe new Porsche Boxster is so good it makes you question why anyone would every buy a 911