Think ‘summer’ and you’re likely to think ‘road trips’, which is partly why we’ve made the BMW 330d M Sport our top 5 summer cars.
Aside from road trips, there are lots of other ways to enjoy the warmer weather and sunnier days, as there are plenty of other types of car that can make summer one to remember for families, couples and solo drivers alike.
Here are some of the main types of summer car and our picks of specific models that show each category at its best.
The 435d is our Car of the Month but of course there are high-spec convertibles from all the major manufacturers, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, many of which are priced from around £20,000 for models less than three years old.
As you look back a little further, there are even better prices to be found on used convertibles closer to five years old, and we’re also giving special mention to the MINI Roadster, which offers great value at around £12,000 for a three-year-old model with low mileage.
You don’t have to buy an all-out sports car to get great handling, as there are plenty of everyday road cars that can take twisty country lane corners well – sporty hatchbacks or ‘hot hatches’ have cornered this market (no pun intended!) particularly well.
If you want something a bit more executive-looking, you could do much worse than the BMW 330d M Sport, with a diesel engine and automatic transmission so you don’t have to worry about whether to shift down for a particularly tight bend.
Best Air Conditioning
It’s hard enough keeping cool in the summer, but if you have to take a long drive somewhere, a roasting hot car interior is the last thing you want. Passive ventilation ‘blowers’ can only do so much, but a decent air conditioning system can leave you feeling frosty on the sunniest of days.
Again, all the major manufacturers offer a selection of solutions, from active air conditioning to panoramic sunroofs and, again, convertibles. Special mention goes to both Kia and Vauxhall, as you’ll find air conditioning in a wide range of their models without having to pay much of a premium.
Best Sound System
For a great sound system as standard, Audi are the obvious choice, with Bose and Bang & Olufsen entertainment systems installed in a wide range of models, not only including newer Audis but also used Audis going back several years.
Play your favourite tracks on the drive to a summer festival, wind the windows down so passers-by can hear your tunes, or opt for a used Audi convertible and blast some summer classics with the top down.
If you’re heading to the beach – especially with surfing equipment or windbreaks in tow – plenty of luggage space is a must. In years gone by the surf crowd would often go the whole hog and get a van, such as the iconic VW Campervan, but nowadays there’s no need to go to such lengths.
Land Rover (including Range Rover) arguably leads this segment, especially if you have no back-seat passengers and can fold the rear seats down. The 2017 Land Rover Discovery has nearly 2,500 litres of luggage space, and even with the seats up, 1,000 litres is not unusual on some Range Rover models.