WE BRITISH are an optimistic nation. Even though we only get about 43 minutes of sunshine each summer, we buy more convertibles than almost anyone else in Europe.

The UK is the second largest European market for ‘drop-tops’ and that means we have a greater enthusiasm for sky-gazing motoring than the French, the Italians or the Spanish. The only trouble is that removing the roof can blight a good car’s driving dynamics, or at least make it noisier, colder and easier to steal.

That is why motor manufacturers invented panoramic glass roofs. Ok, they won’t necessarily get the wind rushing through your hair, but glass-tops are a great compromise. They let light into the car and they give that ‘open-top’ feel without any of the disadvantages of a cabriolet.

As we are heading into sunnier weather, Lincolnshire Today takes a look at a handful of cars with panoramic roofs to suit every budget.


Hyundai ix20

The latest model to join the South Korean company’s ‘i-range’ line-up of vehicles has the style of a supermini, the space of Doctor Who’s TARDIS and the economy of a city car.

Made at Hyundai’s newest European plant in Nošovice, Czech Republic, the ix20 is essentially a compact MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) with a healthy dose of fashion and functionality. It has a chic sporty profile, which sets it apart from the boxy ‘minivan’ image typically associated with other MPVs.

The three trim grades – Classic, Active and Style – are unique to the UK and have been carefully created to reflect the demands and high expectations of British buyers.

The range-topping Style specification adds some luxuries that buyers in the real world want. The most striking of these extras is a dual-panel panoramic glass sunroof with UV filter, which spans the front and rear seats. The front panel offers a tilt and sliding function to let the fresh air – as well as light – into the cabin. Sometimes though, you want to keep the light out, which is why the sunroof is equipped with blinds and the rear glass is super-darkened for extra privacy and protection from the sun.

To further improve the looks and visibility of the ix20 Style from the outside, front fog lights are standard and the door mirrors are fitted with integrated side repeater indicators. To keep these safe on narrower roads, they fold electrically.

The Style range starts at £13,695 for the 1.4-litre petrol, £15,095 for the diesel and £15,095 for the 1.6-litre petrol auto.


Peugeot 5008

The Peugeot 5008 was voted ‘Scottish MPV of the Year’ by the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers (ASMW) at the end of 2010. The Compact MPV succeeded over competition from all makes and was short-listed with the Ford S-Max and the Mazda 5 for the top spot in the MPV segment.

The seven-seat 5008 is used to filling its capacious interior with awards having won this year’s prestigious What Car? ‘Best MPV’, What Car? Green Awards MPV and Diesel Car magazine’s ‘MPV of the Year’ with its ultimate ‘Car of the Year’ accolade placing it above all other diesel vehicles.

With a class-leading interior incorporating a ‘driver’s cockpit’ ambience, the versatile seven-seat layout that features adjustable middle row seats (which slide and recline individually), a maximum 5-star EuroNCAP protection for all the occupants and the unique-to-the-sector features like the head-up display of speed and distance alert, it is a perfect combination of high quality and space utilisation.

Another key virtue of the 5008, promoted as being ‘Enjoyed by families. Loved by drivers,’ is the choice of three well-specified trim levels – Active, Sport and Exclusive, with the top-of-the-range 5008 Exclusive featuring as standard a Cielo panoramic glass roof.

The ‘invisible’ roof versions are priced from £21,895 up to £24,845.


Range Rover Evoque

The Range Rover Evoque is attracting so much attention. And rightly so, because aimed squarely at the executive market, the all-new car promises to deliver premium levels of craftsmanship, economy, luxury, performance and renowned Land Rover all-terrain capability into a shrink-wrapped package.

Looks-wise the Evoque certainly marks a bold evolution of Range Rover design. With a striking rising beltline, a muscular shoulder running the length of the car, and a distinctive taper to the floating roofline, the car adopts an extremely vibrant profile with a commanding and muscular stance.

Inside, the cabin delivers exactly what you would expect; sumptuous surroundings with premium quality materials and an elegance befitting of a Range Rover interior. An optional full glass fixed panoramic roof enhances the sense of room and freedom within the deceptively spacious cabin, flooding the interior with natural light and providing a superb uninterrupted vista for all occupants.

The Evoque will indubitably tempt a whole new generation of business executives who want a stylish vehicle that delivers decent fuel economy, low emissions and oodles of style. The car is due to go on sale in the UK this summer.

No official price tag has been confirmed by Jaguar Land Rover, but the Evoque is expected to cost around £30,000.


Mercedes-Benz R-Class

The latest generation of the R-Class features a new, self-assured appearance. The overall impression is virtually seamless and encapsulates the unique personality of this highly versatile vehicle.

The side view features coupé-like lines – a pleasant contrast to standard large-capacity vehicles – and the 2011 model year R-Class looks particularly refined in the new ‘diamond white’ paint finish. But, if there was a versatility test for car interiors, the R-Class would certainly be the favourite to take first place.

Designed for a relaxed, safe driving environment, the saloon offers seven seats as standard in both the normal and long wheelbase versions. The bright, classic cabin – which seems even more spacious when fitted with the optional panoramic glass sunroof – makes use of new materials and colour combinations which enhance the high-class appeal and quality of this unique long-distance saloon.

The optional glass roof costs a steep £1,790.  A brand new R-Class will set you back up to £46,110.


Porsche Cayenne

The Cayenne is basically a two-ton SUV and it shares the architecture of the Volkswagen Touareg.

Step inside the Cayenne Diesel and you are welcomed with the inviting ambience of a genuine Porsche. The ultra comfortable front seats offer electrical 12-way adjustment and highlight the potential of the Cayenne, especially the diesel version, as an authentic long-distance runner.

The discerning customer opting for Porsche’s sports utility has a wide range of optional extras and special equipment to choose from. One option available on the Cayenne is the good-looking panoramic roof. Both the front and rear segments are tinted glass and the forward section can be fully opened or tilted upward. There is also an electrically operated sunscreen that covers the entire glass area. In addition a comfort closing facility is featured.

The cost of the glass-roof option is £1,291 on all Cayennes. The model line up is currently priced from £42,990 all the way up to a budget-busting £84,972.

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