Know how much you can spend on a second-hand car but haven't made up your mind which one to buy? We recommend two sensible options, plus a left-field choice. This time we’re looking at four-seater convertibles for under R450 000 apiece…

Sensible: Audi A5 Cabriolet 2,0T FSI

0-100 km/h: 7,90 seconds
Top speed: 250 km/h
Power: 140 kW
Torque: 320 N.m
CO2: 127 g/km
Fuel consumption: 6,7 L/100 km

In its first generation of A5, Audi offered a choice of Coupé, Sportback and this drop-top version. It stayed in production until 2017, so there are many available on the used market.

Just one switch is required to lower the Cabriolet’s well-insulated roof and the operation takes less than 20 seconds; no need to come to a halt either, as long as you are doing less than 50 km/h.

We commented the 2,0T FSI was perhaps the best overall buy of the range. Employing a 2,0-litre turbopetrol delivering 140 kW and 320 N.m of torque through the front wheels, you could accelerate to 100 km/h in just over six seconds which is more performance than most people would ever need. Be aware there are two engine specs for the TFSI; the more powerful engine propels the Quattro. Most drop-top drivers will not require all-wheel drive so you will shave a fair slice off the price tag.

While we all appreciate the aural notes of V6s – or, better still, inline sixes – the four-cylinder turbos are quite easily redesigned for a variety of power outputs, are compact and more fuel-efficient, so make sense.

On this model, the wheel size is 18 inches, providing a more comfortable ride than the Quattro’s 19-inchers. A full-size spare wheel, albeit steel, is a pleasant surprise. The maintenance plan is five years/100 000 km.

Space: 2+2 seats, 208/536 L
Safety: 4 airbags, ABS with EBD and BAS, stability control
Cost of four tyres:R8 686
Road test: None

Sensible: BMW 420i Convertible

0-100 km/h: 8,40 seconds
Top speed: 230 km/h
Power: 135 kW  
Torque: 290 N.m
CO2: 136 g/km
Fuel consumption: 7,0 L/100 km

Cabriolets, based on their coupé derivatives, have a stylish elegance thanks to the sleek lines of most two-door bodies. That’s certainly applicable to the hard-topped 4 Series and many would claim these are the best-looking cars in the whole BMW line-up.

In May 2017, a mild facelift saw changes to LED lighting and the interior trim but the engines remained unchanged, having already been tweaked in mid-2016. The 420i will be easier (and cheaper) to find than the expensive and more powerful models. With 135 kW and 290 N.m starting at a low 1 350 r/min, it isn’t far behind the A5 to 100 km/h. Gearboxes are six-speed manual or the more popular eight-speed auto. No spare wheel is fitted; instead, you receive a mobility kit. Both upholstery and trim lines are fully customisable on purchase when new, so there should be a decent choice of both classy and colourful finishes.

The standard rims were 17 inches but a wide variety of wheel options was offered, right up to 19 inches.

A five-year/100 000 km maintenance plan was included with service intervals dependent on the onboard computer. Most complaints we found were isolated issues or EGR problems on diesel models, so mechanical and electrical quality is mostly sound.

Space: 2+2 seats, n/a L
Safety: 6 airbags, ABS, EBD, stability control
Cost of four tyres: R8 450
Road test: None

Left-field: Ford Mustang Convertible 2,3 EcoBoost

0-100 km/h: 7,02 seconds
Top speed: 239 km/h
Power: 233 kW
Torque: 430 N.m
CO2: 287 g/km
Fuel consumption: 11,8 L/100 km

We initially wanted to include the Range Rover Evoque Convertible but there are too few on offer and they’re way too expensive for this budget. We opted for some American flair instead.

With its long bonnet, rear-wheel drive and aggressive lines, the Mustang is a true head-turner. The design concept of drop-tops/convertibles/cabriolets (take your pick) is to provide a grand tourer, not a sportscar. So, if you want to avoid the hectic fuel bills of the 5,0-litre V8 but retain the great looks, perhaps the 2,3 EcoBoost is a more sensible bet. The four-pot produces still-healthy outputs of 233 kW and 430 N.m thanks to turbocharging and direct injection, so your acceleration to 100 km/h remains in the seven-second ballpark. A “sound symposer” attempts to add some aural excitement but it doesn’t really work.

The latest 2,3 EcoBoost Convertible recently graced our test garage (read the road test here). Even with slightly less power but a new gearbox – 10 forward ratios instead of six – it managed to just beat the previous model’s sprint time to dip below seven seconds.

It will not be easy finding a Convertible because most Mustangs sold are Fastbacks. Also, the prices of drop-tops are a bit higher. The Mustang has a service plan of five years, with 20 000 km intervals.

Space: 2+2 seats, 240 L
Safety: 4 airbags, ABS/EBD, stability control
Cost of four tyres: R14 050
Road test: February 2016

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