Tested: 2010 Peugeot 308CC Automatic

The spastic beauty

Hang on, what’s going on here? Someone gave me a snazzy Peugeot 308CC when I had clearly reviewed the pretty French convertible last year. With rising summer temperatures and sunny skies abound, I wasn’t about to rectify their mistake though.

Furthermore, shortly afterwards my left foot hit the foot-well when I tried to start the car. Ahh, so it’s an automatic. And as you will discover in a few minutes, that did warrant me having another go in the 308 see-see.

Although I’m severely tempted to copy ‘n paste the majority of my previous review and spend the rest of the afternoon floating in the pool, I shall give you a quick refresher on the Peugeot 308CC. Unlike the topless Megane, this car only gathered positive remarks from inquisitive onlookers.

It’s still not a butch-looking machine and I’d even risk descriptions such as modern and sleek. Especially its backside can keep you interested for quite some time with its lip spoiler, black diffuser and LED light clusters which look even better after 8pm.

Inside it’s business as usual with the exception of an automatic gear lever. This chrome-ringed apparatus sits at the bottom of the dramatically sloping centre console which contains sufficient toys and chrome accents to brighten up the pitch-black interior.

The instrument cluster deserves a special mention with its chrome bezels, white dials with black and red lettering, delicate and glowing red needles, and red LCD trip / information screen. A steering wheel devoid of buttons sits in front of these and is manually adjustable in most directions.

Satellite controls for audio and telephone are grouped on an extra stalk which sits at the bottom right of the steering column, within easy reach of your tanned hand. A mirror version of this stalk sits on the opposite side behind the wheel and calls upon the services of the car’s cruise control.

Much like its manual counterpart and the aforementioned Renault drop-top, the Peugeot has a sound system which reproduces radio, CD, auxiliary and mp3 sounds with amazing clarity and punch. Its climate control is easy to comprehend and works flawlessly, just like the three-stage front seat heaters.

The chunky frontal furniture is very comfortable and exceptionally travel-worthy, something that can’t be said for the rear seats. Adults won’t appreciate tall occupants ahead of them, especially on longer journeys.

Press or pull a tiny button on the centre tunnel and the roof will come alive; unfortunately the car has to be stationary for the 20 second event to take place and boot space left by the collapsed roof is nowhere near acceptable.

There is a retaining net for loose cargo and a closed roof raises boot space to satisfactory levels, but the topless 308 is just a little too blowy. The convertible motoring experience is compromised by turbulent air whacking everyone in the face due to the absence of any wind deflectors.

This showcases how big a difference the Renault Megane CC’s tiny glass deflector makes. If Peugeot offers an optional deflector I would recommend it as a necessity if you want to enjoy more than a few minutes of open air.

A small advantage over its French rival is the 308’s power plant. The 1.6L turbo-charged engine as also found in Peugeot GTi’s and Minis is slightly de-tuned but provides more oomph than what the Megane conjured up.

110kW (150hp) at 5800rpm and 240Nm at 1400rpm should already give away the 308CC’s game. Its outright performance is sufficient and its impressive torque plateau kicks in early enough to make this a lazy and unstressed cruiser.

Unfortunately it becomes stressful when you drive; the 308CC has one of thee most spastic automatic gearboxes I’ve ever experienced. It can never make up its mind which gear it likes, shifts up or down with occasional jolts and becomes completely frustrating in Sports mode. It’s terrible.

At least the four-cylinder produces only 177g CO2/km and claims to use an average of 7.5L/100km. The suspension is utterly comfortable, the body flex is tolerable and the road holding is superb. It will cling onto tarmac long after the engine and hopeless gearbox have run out of ideas.

Standard kit includes ABS, EBD and BAS, traction and dynamic stability control, auto locks, auto wipers, auto lights, power windows and mirrors (heated and retractable), six airbags, full size spare, ISOFIX mountings, rear parking sensors and a chilly glove box.

The 308CC Automatic costs N$354 845 and comes standard with a five-year 90 000km service plan. Unless you can’t drive a manual, I would strongly advise against the auto version. In fact, I would suggest you learn to drive a manual and save fifteen grand by avoiding the awful automatic.

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