Q. We own a pristine 2007 Honda S2000 roadster and a tired 2004 Mercedes C-class coupé. Having retired we wish to own one car, ideally a four-seat convertible with the practicality of the Mercedes and the fun of the Honda. Our budget is about £12,500. Are we being unrealistic?
JM, Gillinggate, Cumbria
A. Yours is a perfectly realistic request, but the budget means that the cars you can choose from will be older and therefore likely to require more expensive maintenance. So try to put something aside for annual servicing, and should you buy from a private seller, have the car inspected by the AA, RAC or a reputable garage.
The Volkswagen Eos treads just the right line between being practical (four proper seats and a reasonable boot) and having a touch of panache. It has a folding solid roof, which enhances the feeling of security on a wet winter’s day, though some owners complain it can be problematic.
The Eos drives and handles well, and an approved-used 2011 model from a VW dealer is less than £12,000. Go for the 1.4 TSI 158bhp engine, which offers swift performance (0-62mph in 8.8 seconds) and sensible running costs (41.5mpg on the combined cycle).
Alternatively, stick with a Mercedes and test-drive a used CLK cabriolet. Unlike the VW it has a fabric roof, which can be noisier and less secure but is lighter and mechanically simpler.
The Mercedes approved-used car programme offers a handful of models within your budget, although I would suggest a smaller engine such as the CLK 200 Kompressor. It produces 181bhp, hits 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds and returns 31.7mpg. Your budget buys a 2009 car.
For a more sporty driving experience, try the BMW 3-series convertible. I’d recommend the 325i, a lovely-sounding 3-litre six-cylinder petrol unit. It can go from 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds and returns 35.8mpg.
I think you’ll enjoy the BMW’s roadholding the most and helpfully there is a good level of choice in BMW’s network of approved used cars, such as a 2008 325i SE with an automatic gearbox.
BMW 3-series convertible
- For The most sporty to drive, spacious cabin, lovely-sounding six-cylinder engine
- Against Likely to have a slightly higher mileage than the VW or Mercedes
- For Understated and tasteful with a practical interior, solid folding roof gives good refinement
- Against Lacks the prestige of the BMW and Mercedes, roof has been known to suffer faults
- For Luxury car looks; high-quality interior; laid back, relaxed driving experience
- Against The fabric hood requires extra care compared with a solid roof