The Audi TT has been a style Icon ever since its launch in 1998. The shape of the entire car is unique and easily recognisable - everybody knows what a TT looks like. There's now plenty of second-generation TTs under £15k now.
At this price point, you'll be looking at the standard 1.8T or 2.0T petrol TT, which is no bad thing, as they both offer brisk pace and decent economy. The 160bhp 1.8T model propels the car from 0-62mph in 7.4s, and manages 40.9 mpg on the combined. The 200bhp 2.0T model is slightly quicker, and the extra 40bhp means that the 0-62mph time drops to just 6.5s, however economy drops as well, to 36.2mpg combined. Tax is £85 higher too, so it depends whether you want to save money or go for outright speed.
Whichever TT you get, practicality is fairly decent, there's a useful 250 litre boot, and thanks to clever packaging, the roof doesn't infringe on boot space when it is retracted. That roof looks good either up or down, and takes only 12 seconds to close, and can be operated at speeds up to 19mph. There was much more of a driver focus when this generation TT was designed, stiffening the body by 120% compared with the 1st gen TT, and it was 75kg lighter too. It's one of the class leaders in its sector.Search Used Audi TT
The Mazda MX-5 is famously the world's best-selling roadster of all time. It has achieved this thanks to great styling, inexpensive running costs and an exceptional driving experience.
There's masses of choice under 15k. Standard cars, special editions, 1.8-litres, 2.0-litres, soft-tops, hard-tops - lots to choose from. In terms of the engines, popularity is split between the 1.8 and 2.0-litre. The 1.8i is quick enough, offering a 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds and a top speed of 121mph, but the one you really want is the 2.0-litre. It generates 160bhp, 34 more than the 1.8, and this drops the 0-62mph to 7.9 seconds. It certainly feels much more brisk too, and the driving experience is much more fun when you're pushing hard.
The Mk3 MX-5 is coming to the end of its life now, and as such you can get a real bargain on the used car market. We're even starting to see low mileage 2013/13 plate examples under £15,000 which is great value. Because it's production run is ending soon, there has been all manner of special editions in recent years, such as the Kendo, Sport Tech, Venture and Kuro, all of which offer increased specification levels such as leather upholstery and sat nav for not much more money.
The MINI Convertible is a brilliant little car. Fact. They're brilliant to drive, relatively inexpensive to run and in Cooper S format (like the one featured here) they are actually rather quick. Cooper S Models feature a Turbocharged engine (earlier models had superchargers) for better performance and fuel economy.
Cooper S variants accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.3s and on to a top speed of 140mph - very brisk indeed. They still managed 47.1 mpg on the combined cycle however, so running costs shouldn't be too bad. Regular 1.6 Cooper models manage the 0-62mph sprint in a respectable 9.8s, but manage slightly better 49.6 combined mpg. Interestingly they both cost the same to tax. Look out for cars specced with a Chili pack, as this adds upgrades such as half leather seats and a multifunction steering wheel. Pepper packs are fitted to most of the cars that were sold from new - you'd have to have been very stingy not to have ticked that particular option box.Search Used MINI Convertible
BMW 1 Series Convertible
The 1 Series Convertible is the drop-top version of BMW's popular premium hatchback. It combines prestige styling and quality with impressive driveability thanks to its real-world. It uses a lot of parts from the E90 version of the 3-series, so excellence is guaranteed.
In terms of engines and spec, there's all sorts to choose from. The most popular engine is the 118d (diesel), which blends performance and economy in equal measure. 58.9 mpg combined and 9.5s to 60 are good stats, especially in terms of running costs, and this particular model only costs £110 per year in road tax. The 120d is probably a better bet, as it produces an impressive 177bhp and drops the 0-62mph time to just 8.1, while still managing 56.5mpg combined and only costs an extra £20 to tax. The extra power and torque becomes really apparent when overtaking - in gear acceleration is much stronger.
There's plenty of petrol engines too, and these are usually cheaper to buy so if you're not doing lots of mileage and just want a summer cruiser, they can often be the better choice. The 118i is a de-tuned version of the 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder engine has 143bhp and performs the 0-60mph spring in 9.3s, whilst retaining a respectable 43.5mpg figure. The 120i is as expected a little faster, and a little worse on fuel, managing 8.4s and 41.5mpg. There was also a 135i version with a massive 306bhp, but you might struggle to find one under £15k.
Audi A3 Convertible
In 2008, Audi released a convertible version of its extremely popular A3 family hatchback. It has been a sales success all over the world, in a similar manner to the BMW 1 series thanks to its premium appeal.
Again like the BMW, it's available with a multitude of engines, so you're bound to find one that matches your exact needs. The slowest of the lot is actually one of the most popular engines, the 1.6 TDI diesel engine produces a minute 105 bhp and manages the 0-62mph sprint in a somewhat pedestrian 12.2s. If speed isn't important however, this is the convertible for you. It rides well and is very comfortable, and the trade-off for a lack of performance is excellent running costs - the combined mpg figure is 65.7 mpg and road tax is just £30 per year - it's a car you can use every day for sure. If you do want a bit of fizz, there are 2.0 TDI models, 1.8T models and 2.0T models which are all much faster - but of course cost a lot more to run.