When it comes to enjoying the summer sunshine from behind the wheel of a car, we Brits are among the most enthusiastic out there. It's why we buy more convertibles than any other nation in Europe, and it's why you and your car are likely to be spending a lot of quality time together when those blue skies do appear. Who can blame you? It can be jolly good fun.
This is especially true when you're driving something as exciting, capable, or cool as the models we've listed below, which come represent our top used buys for summer 2022. If you're needing a motoring refresh and need some inspiration, we'd encourage you to try one of these...
Best sports cars for summer 2022
A sports car that looks great, sounds heavenly and doesn’t break the bank… What’s not to love? Grab a used F-Type on cinch for around the £30k mark, and you get a 2.0-litre supercharged V6 engine and a thrilling drive. With only two doors and two seats, it’s not for a family, but for you and your other half, think no further. Trust the UK weather? Then go for a convertible. If you err on the side of caution, play it safe with a coupé.
This soft-top Beemer is a big-seller for good reason. In cooking models you get a six-cylinder engine that’s refined for long motorway stints and silky smooth when you work it out. Exercise the motor and expect a 0-60 time of around five seconds. BMW interiors are known for being luxe and kitted out with all the latest tech, so the Z4 will keep you comfortable and connected. If you want to snag a bargain then go for an older model and you’ll need little more than £20k for your next sporty ride.
Small and iconic, the Mini Convertible is a must-have summer car for urban dwellers. For first-time drivers or even as a share between siblings, you can’t go wrong with this compact drop-top. The four-seat interior is surprisingly spacious up front (admittedly the back seats are pretty small), especially with the top down. The central circular infotainment screen, with its ambient lighting surround, is one of our favourite design features in any car. The Mini Convertible looks trendy wherever you’re going. But it’s not just good looks; with a turbocharged engine of 1.5 or 2.0-litre capacity, this little thing is all sporty spice.
Best active lifestyle cars for summer 2022
Every adventurer needs a trusty set of wheels, and the Suzuki Jimny is the tiny but mighty crusader of the 4x4 world. You can ask pretty much anything of this off-roader. It’s got so much personality too, with cute looks, three doors and an unashamedly boxy body. With a wipe-down interior (perfect if you bring muddy wellies aboard), it’s super practical and it’s one of the cheapest proper off-roaders to buy. Thanks to its dinky size, the 1.5-litre engine doesn't have to work too hard, either.
When it comes to the adventurer lifestyle, the Discovery is the glamping to the Jimny’s camping. If you want a bit of Bear Grylls but would rather the yurt, fairy lights and pizza oven, then the Land Rover Discovery is your kind of adventure car. It’s a huge seven-seater, with so much boot and storage space the kitchen sink is packing light. The interior is plush; think supple leather, a heated steering wheel, heated seats and a huge infotainment screen. It’s not the cheapest large car but it’s jammed full of features like parking assist technology, headlight washers and blindspot assistant feature, so you always feel safe and secure. Adjust the suspension with a touch of a button and off-road obstacles become putty in your hand.
Adventures are good for the soul, and hybrid adventure cars are kinder for the local environment. The Passat GTE should have you cruising around for about 30 miles on electric power before it taps into the fuel tank, keeping the cost of your next adventure down. For long journeys, you get a claimed 55mpg, which is decent for such a large car. While it's not as high-riding as our other adventurers, you’re in safe hands with Passat as the GTE scored a full five stars in EuroNCAP crash tests. Saloon and estate options are available, but the estate has roof rails, so mountain bikers take note.
Best family cars for 2022
Banish the idea of a Cheaper by the Dozen MPV because Audi’s Q7 puts the class into family wagon. The seven-seater Q7 has a glorious minimal interior made to the highest standard and most importantly for you, the kids and the dog, there’s oodles of space. With numerous-sized petrol and diesel engines available, and Audi’s all-wheel drive quattro system, you can easily find a model with the right amount of power for you. Our favourite summer feature has got to be the double-splitting panoramic sunroof. It’s standard on some models and an optional extra on others, so get it if you can because it’s a neat way to get the convertible feel without committing to the soft-top life.
An electric car that’s reliable and affordable, the Niro is a great bet. It’s a small SUV, but there’s plenty of room for a family of five to hit the continent or staycation closer to home. If you want the summer special, then go for a top spec model with the panoramic sunroof and ventilated seats. It has a 64kWh battery that gives you 283 miles on a single charge (according to official stats), and you can rapid charge using powerful 150kW plugs, the sort you can increasingly find at service stations. Topping up from 20-80% charge should take less than 30 minutes too, according to Kia. The in-built charging system is smart, as it gives you battery and charging notifications on your phone, lets you schedule charging remotely, and you can pre-set the car interior temperature in the most efficient way to reduce energy usage. If you’re buying your first electric car, this tech holds your hand and helps you learn the ways of EV life.