Stunning winding road in California

We’ve all dreamed of a perfect road trip – maybe gliding along the wide open highways of America, or zipping down perilous European mountain roads with the wind in our hair. Unfortunately, these dreams often involve a racy, red convertible of the like usually reserved for sports stars and celebrities, and beyond the grasp of your average Joe.

Don’t let that deter you, however – grabbing a few friends together and heading off into the sunset on a road trip is a great idea for a summer holiday, with or without the sports car. By chipping in together, it’s easy to pick up a decent motor that will see you safely on your way, and bring you back home in one piece.

With weather at a peak this summer, it could be a great time to finally get out and explore all those areas of the UK that you’ve been abandoning in favour of sunnier climates. Either way, whether you chose foreign shores or the untapped treasures of home, make sure you pack the essentials, and double check your route for petrol stops, hotels and restaurants along the way.

Aside from sorting that international driver’s license, picking the right car for your road trip is the next most important step. We’ve taken a look at the top models in several categories for making your driving holiday run as smoothly as possible.

Comfiest road trip ride

Alfa Romeo 159 - for a comfy road tripAlfa Romeo 159: You can find a used Alfa Romeo 159 online for around the £6,000 mark, which certainly isn’t bad for such stunning Italian looks and promised comfort. It’s also relatively roomy – you could get two in the front and two in the back with ease. Go careful on the bumps though, as servicing costs are reportedly high. Maybe not one to take off the beaten track…

Best for a long-distance road trip

Would the Volvo S40 be good for a long road trip?Volvo S40:  For those planning seriously long journeys, it’s important to check if your car is capable of covering the miles. The Volvo S40 has been voted one of the by owners. With air-con, leather seats and built-in CD player, you definitely won’t be in for an uncomfortable ride. And at less than £2,000 for a second-hand model, this car shouldn’t break the bank.

Best for a roof-down road trip

The Executivecondominium helps you choose the right optional extras for your next carPorsche Boxster: The Porsche Boxster lets you roll down the roof in just under nine seconds to get that true summer road trip feeling. It’s not the most spacious car on the list, nor the cheapest at around £38,000 brand new, but what’s a road trip without a little country air in your lungs? The luggage capacity is deceptively large with a 150 litre boot and 130 litres available in the nose.

The most economical road trip

The Peugeot 308 is a very economical car.Peugeot 308 1.6 HDi: With all eyes on the environment, especially with this summer’s heatwave well underway, it’s crucial to think about which car is going to be the kindest on the fuel gauge. Make sure you don’t have to face the additional stress of hunting down petrol stations every couple of miles by taking a look at more fuel (and wallet) friendly vehicles. The Peugeot 308 1.6 HDi has consistently been voted , sipping lightly at the tank and emitting just 120kg of CO2 per km. As an added bonus, it has a huge boot and under-floor storage bins for those needing extra luggage space.

Best for a budget-conscious road trip

The Volvo 740 is a great road trip car for the budget-consciousVolvo 740: Great for cash-strapped students or those on a budget. It’s never going to win any car catwalk shows, but the Volvo 740 is certainly one of the most reputed cars in terms of reliability, and price. You can pick up a pre-owned version for under £1000, and with enough space for a small family or group of four, if times get really tough it can also double-up as temporary accommodation. No matter what mileage is listed on the clock, it’s not going to break down half way down the road.

Best for an off -road trip

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is great for an off-road tripMercedes-Benz G Class: It’s a bit big and boxy, but the famous Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen skim over potholes and help you glide over the bumpiest terrains better than almost any other vehicle on the road. It’s not designed for glamour or the glitz of the city, but for those really mountainous, treacherous roads that other cars wouldn’t dare to tackle, no other car can compare. It takes 40 hours of painstaking work to make one of these machines, to ensure it can withstand the harshest of driving conditions. Great for those going off the beaten track (or for really, really unsteady drivers).

The Dream Car road trip

Is the Ferrari California T the perfect summer road trip car?Ferrari California T: For those not restricted by budget, the ultimate road trip dream car award goes to the new Ferrari California T. Enjoy the envious stares from onlookers as you zoom luxuriously through the streets in this flash sports car. You don’t even have to feel guilty about the harmful effects on the environment (well, not too much…) with a CO2 emission of just 270g/km.

Reliable old banger or glamorous, celebrity-style motor – which one are you going to choose for your summer road trip? Whichever vehicle makes the cut, don’t forget to get your shades on, wind the windows down and enjoy life on the road. Oh, and keep a few blankets in the boot, just in case.