Volkswagen, Citroën and Smart recently released fashionable and fun little cars on to the market - just in time for Christmas. Which dinky little one is likely to make it into stockings this year?

Volkswagen, Citroën and Smart recently released fashionable and fun little cars on to the market - just in time for Christmas. Which dinky little one is likely to make it into stockings this year?

Powered by the proven Volkswagen 2,0-litre engine, the five-speed Beetle Cabriolet can reach a top speed of 185km/h. The cabriolet, which has an electro-hydraulic top, looks remarkably like its tin-top sister with its hood up. By twisting a lever and pressing a button next to the handbrake, the top can be opened and closed in 13 seconds.

In true Karmann Beetle style, the roof is not hidden away when retracted, but rather just rolls up behind the rear seats. The hood cover, in the same colour as the interior, can be stored in the boot with the foldable wind deflector. Don't expect too much space in the luggage area with the roof down though; you'll be sorely disappointed.

But the Beetle Cabrio means safe fun as well. Rollover protection is monitored by electronic sensors and this soft-top has ESP, ABS, and dual front and side airbags.

A three-year/120 000 km warranty, 12-year anti-corrosion, and 60 000 km/five-year AutoMotion maintenance plan are all standard. Service intervals are 15 000 km. The Beetle Cabriolet sells for R257 000.

But what if you are someone who prefers versatility over pretty-appeal? Perhaps you would opt for Citroën's C3 Pluriel which, depending how you look at it, has been described as a five-in-one vehicle.

When the Pluriel's material sunroof is closed, it looks like a compact three-door convertible. Simply by pressing some buttons, the driver is able to control the roof and windows to turn it into a spider. The roof then folds down on to the rear window and disappears into the false floor of the boot. The boot does not even have to be emptied to reach the false floor. A sliding plate is provided for this purpose.

The rear seat of the Pluriel is designed to retract into the floor. The load area of each variant can be extended and the vehicle turned from a four-seater into a two-seater. In bakkie fashion, the boot hatch opens downwards, extending the load floor and making it easy to transport long objects.

The entry-level C3 Pluriel is fitted with a 1,4-litre fuel-injected powerplant and a five-speed manual gearbox. The 1,6-litre 16-valve engine is mated to Citroën's SensoDrive five-speed robotised manual gearbox and comes with a choice of two gearchanging modes.

The 1,4 derivative sells for R184 995 while the flagship model costs R209 995.

For those who prefer the their fun cars to be sporty too, perhaps the Smart Roadster and Smart Roadster-coupé will appeal.

In South Africa, the roadster comes standard with the sports package and includes a three-spoke leather sports steering wheel with F1-style rocker switch steering wheel gearshift. Keeping with the sporty character, the roadster has 16-inch three-spoke "spikeline" light-alloy rims.

On the Smart Roadster, the fully automatic soft-top is made of a three-layer, rubberised textile fabric. A first on the roadster is a rocker switch on the centre console that electrically opens the soft-top to any position, regardless of the vehicle's speed, and can be closed again at the touch of a button. The top can also be stowed in the rear luggage compartment within ten seconds.

Then there's the Smart Roadster-coupé, with its fully glazed fastback. The lightweight (10kg) glass fibre-reinforced polyurethane foam hard-top is removable, and can be stored in the rear luggage compartment in two 5kg-pieces.

The Smart Roadster's Tridion safety cell is silver, while the body panels are available in four exterior colours: yellow, red, blue and grey. The interior of the smart roadster is available in scribble black or scribble red, or in black leather at an extra charge.

The Smart ones come with a three-year/50 000km Service Plan and sell for R206 000 for the Roadster and R209 000 for the Roadster-coupé and are backed by a two-year manufacturer warranty and six-year anti-corrosion warranty.