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Pop-tops hip and hot

Car makers are following in the footsteps of Mercedes-Benz and Lexus by putting folding metal hard-tops within the reach of more car buyers than ever before.

It's a case of Viva la France in this instance, as Renault and Peugeot have folding metal hardtops starting well under the $50,000 mark, with the Pug 307CC Sport the only transgressor at $55,000.

The rest of the Peugeot drop-top range – the two 206CC models and the 307CC Dynamic – will feature on the Peugeot display at Wayville, giving wind in the hair motoring with French fl air for a $32,990 starting price.

The base 206CC is powered by a 1.6-litre engine – there's a two-litre model as well – and it's only got decent room for two people, although it offi cially seats four. The 206 is nearing the end of its model life so stay tuned for a drop-top 207.

The 307CC offers a little more room for the rearseat occupants, although it uses similar drivetrains. Holden might be sourcing its light and small car entrants from Korea, but its fashionable two-seater drop-top is still from Europe. The two-seater is keenly priced and, while only available in manual, will get plenty of attention from new car buyers. Holden's present Astra has a soft-top but expect the next one to follow in the Tigra's tyre tracks, although it's no sure thing for Australia.

Mitsubishi will be showing something close to its drop-top contender, the Colt coupe-cabriolet, which has started production in Italy.

The folding metal hardtop is built from the Colt fi ve-door platform and rather than the three-door, the 2+2 convertible will join a revamped Mitsubishi light car range.

But don't think the rag-top has gone the way of the dodo – anything but.

The reigning Wheels Car of the Year is Mazda's new MX-5, which retained its manual folding soft-top for the sake of saving weight.

BMW's 6-Series drop-top might cost more than $200,000 but that pricetag buys a soft-top, albeit one that is well-insulated. The company's Z4 has retained a rag-top, as has the BMWowned Mini range.

Chrysler's Crossfire – a feature of the brand's stand at this year's show – also has a rag-top.

Volvo's new open-topped star, the C70, has ditched the cloth roof for a solid top, while the Lexus SC430 has offered buyers of the brand the security of a metal roof with wind-in-hair enjoyment since its inception.

Bentley and Lamborghini will be wellrepresented in the megabuck drop-top realm with cloth lids, as will the all-new Jaguar XK convertible.