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The best new cars for summer

The best new cars for summer

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These are some of the ideal cars for summer on sale today.

Summer is nearly here, and with it brings longer days, warmer evenings and (sometimes in the UK) slightly drier weather. Fortunately enough, there’s a wide variety of cars currently on the market which make the most of the summertime weather – and we’ve picked out some of the best.

We also cover the best budget summer car for under £15,000!

So drop the roof, put the sunglasses on and head out – these are some of the ideal cars for summer on sale today.


BMW Z4

The previous generation Z4 went down a storm with buyers, and now there’s an all-new one. With it brings a sharper interior, a more engaging driving experience and – unlike the metal-roofed car it replaces – a canvas hood.

BMW Z4

We’d argue that the new dials on the Z4 are a drawback – they’re complicated and difficult to read – but elsewhere the BMW ticks the boxes. It’s also just as much fun with the roof down as it is up, so it’s ideal for the changeable British weather.


Suzuki Jimny

With the British summer somewhat unpredictable, a sunny day out to the forest could soon become a very wet and muddy one — and that’s where the Suzuki Jimny’s off-road capability comes in handy.

Suzuki Jimny

Its ability to go anywhere can make a nice, dry summer green laning session fun — and easy to manage should the weather turn. It’s also a dead cool thing to look at, and will fit in well at any hip seaside day out.


Mazda MX-5

Mazda’s MX-5 epitomises value-for-money yet good-fun motoring. The latest version is one of the best to drive yet, and since it’s been around a little while now, a new one doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Mazda MX-5

There’s also the RF (Retractable Fastback) version available, which incorporates a folding metal hardtop. It gives you a little more protection from the elements if things do go south.


Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is one of the least road-focused cars on this list – but it’s no less ideal for summertime driving. Why, I hear you ask? Well, the latest generation of Wrangler incorporates a feature which was well-loved on the car it replaces, and that’s the removable roof.

jeep wrangler

It means you can transform the Wrangler from a full-on hardtop into a pseudo-convertible, with as much open-air space as you could possibly want.


Ford Mustang convertible

Ford Mustang convertible

Ask anyone for their dream American road trip car, and we’d be willing to put money on them replying with a convertible Ford Mustang. Fortunately though, you don’t have to fly Stateside to enjoy this pony these days, with Ford selling the muscle car in droves here in the UK too. It still packs the same style and choice of a raucous V8 engine as it does in its homeland, only here with the ability to drive it through Derby if you so wish.


Ariel Atom

Buying a track-focus, spartan sports car is quite the commitment. After all, in the winter, autumn and spring months, the weather is rarely dry or warm enough to really make the most of it.

Ariel Atom

But, if you’re willing to wait for the summer, those three or four days of sunshine just make result in the best driving experience of your life if you choose to invest in an Ariel Atom. It’s a car that will leave you exposed to the elements, but also delivers an incredibly engaging drive. On a dry, clear road, it’s hard to think of a better car.


Caterham 420

The Caterham Seven is a car which follows in a similar vein to the Ariel, albeit with a smidgen more creature comforts. The one we’d opt for is the 420; it uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine and gives the Seven supercar-beating performance, but it’s not as razor-edged as the more powerful 620.

Caterham 420

You can also have it with heated seats, which may go against Caterham’s lightweight philosophy, but will no doubt be a welcome feature when there’s a nip in the summertime air.


Hyundai i30N Fastback

Hyundai left Volkswagen reeling after it revealed its Golf GTI-rivalling i30N hatchback. Now, it’s expanding on things with the i30N Fastback – a four-door version of the performance hatch. We’d argue it’s one of the best handling cars of its type, and it’ll swallow up any b-road you can throw in its direction.

Hyundai i30N Fastback

But it’s practical too, with a big boot and plenty of interior space. A car for all occasions, you could say, but it’ll make a summer’s day that little bit sweeter.


McLaren 720S Spider

If you’re looking for a big-budget, high-performance drop top, few can compare to the McLaren 720S Spider. The coupe is already a stunning assault on the senses, but chop the roof off and that turns up to 11 thanks to unfiltered engine to that ballistic V8 just behind your head.

McLaren 720S Spider

What makes the 720S so appealing, though, is just how useable it is every day. Despite the fact it has over 700bhp fed to the rear wheels and a cockpit slung so low you feel like your backside is scraping along the tarmac, it rides nicely and is easy to drive as most normal hatchbacks.

Flick to sport or track mode, though, and it comes alive, meaning you can leave everything in your dust on that country road while still enjoying the sun on your skin.


These are the best summer-ready used cars under £15,000

Bentley Turbo R

If you’re going to make the most of the summer, then why not do it in style? Enter the Bentley Turbo R. With a 6.7-litre V8 it’s immensely powerful, and will quickly waft you from point A to point B in effortless luxury.

Bentley Turbo R

Fortunately, you can actually grab a Turbo R for around £10,000, which works well for our budget - as we’d keep the remaining £5,000 aside for repairs, maintenance and even fuelling the thing - a full tank will cost over £130.


Porsche Boxster

Debuting as the pint-sized Porsche for those who couldn’t quite afford a 911, the Boxster has carved out a fanbase and market all of its own over the course of a 20+ year career to date.

red Porsche Boxster

For this money, both the first and second-generation Boxster are comfortably available. Take a look at the post-2007 Boxster S for optimum performance; it comes equipped with a 291bhp, 3.4-litre flat-six engine, which sounds and goes like a Porsche should.


Audi S1

Audi’s pocket-sized A1 may have been the last car people expected the German firm to give its ‘S’ treatment to, but it did - resulting in the S1. With a 2.0-litre engine under the bonnet giving 227bhp to play with, its performance far exceed what its cutesy looks would lead you to believe.

Audi S1

It’s a car which will make any countryside blast a joy, but it does the everyday jobs very well too - so there should be a grin on your face even during the daily commute.


Ford Ranger Wildtrak

A pick-up is always an enjoyable mode of summertime transport, and the Ford Ranger Wildtrak is a great option. It’s big, brash and in-your-face, but that’s what you’d expect from a big pick-up truck.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak

It’s available with a 3.2-litre V6 for our budget, giving the Ranger Wildtrak plenty of performance to go with its looks.


Land Rover Defender

In truth, the Defender is perhaps the car for all weather, but it certainly suits the sun.  At under £15,000 you can find quite a few factory-fresh vehicles, many of which are currently geared more for commercial use, as well as many examples that have been tastefully modified by previous owners.

Land Rover Defender

If you’re thinking of making a trip to Cornwall over the summer for a spot of surfing, the Defender certainly stands out alongside the heavy contingent of VW Californias in the beach car park.


Vauxhall VXR8

As many may already know, the VXR8 is a Vauxhall in name only. The reality is this car is a production of General Motors’ Australian subsidy Holden, more specifically, its Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) performance division. This lump of Aussie muscle borrows the 6.2-litre V8 from a Chevrolet Corvette, with 430bhp on tap.

Vauxhall VXR8

Whether you want a hairy drive on a B-Road, or the opportunity to draw eyes at the many summertime car meets across the country, the VXR8 has to be a candidate.


Jaguar XK Convertible

What would such a list be without a V8, drop-top sports car?

Jaguar XK Convertible

Jaguar’s take on grand touring was one of the most impressive convertibles out there in the late-2000s, with its 4.2-litre V8 making a pleasing rumble, and offering up a pleasing portion of performance to boot.  Producing 300bhp, the 4.2-litre motor was later superseded by a 5.0-litre unit in 2009, but you’re unlikely to find the newer, more powerful cars at this price point.


Mini Convertible

If you want something chic that suits the city, look no further than the Mini.

Mini Convertible

Having produced a convertible for each generation to date since BMW took the reins, there are no shortage of drop-top Minis out there for you to choose from. For this money, you can comfortably find a current-generation example, or one of the higher-spec John Cooper Works variants from its previous incarnation.