French flair revived
The first folding-metal-roof cars were not the Germans of ten or fifteen years ago, but Peugeot in the 1930’s. Why everybody took so long to bring this brilliant concept back is beyond me.
Thankfully the French manufacturer is one of the manufacturers who noticed this glaring omission, and is one of a few companies that offer us cars with origami roof mechanisms. And after a few days with the latest 308CC it is evident that their cars are also among the prettiest.
Friends, family, visitors and friendly ladies in parking areas have one of two opinions; people’s impression of the new Peugeot drop-top is a perfect 50/50 split.
Members of the one group slowly walk around the sparkly white CC and excitedly point at its attractive lines. Once they’ve taken a seat behind the steering wheel, only severe amounts of pleading and/or threatening will get them out again.
This will never happen with anybody belonging to the other camp. The 308CC receives a short glimpse while they hurriedly walk past with semi-closed eyes and a crinkly nose. And the comments from this fraternity are most certainly not suitable for print or digital publication.
I’m certainly a member of the first group of admirers. The new Peugeot does come across as delicate but looks exciting and highly attractive; and while I’m unsure of its grinning Peugeot face I do adore the car’s massive backside avec trendy rear lights and twin diffusers.
I’m unsure if this Formula-1 aerodynamic trickery is doing a pretty convertible any good, but their presence plus the elegant spoiler on its gigantic boot give the 308CC an aggressive look from behind.
The huge rear cavity swallows enough luggage for two people, but only if the roof is up. This also changes the lines of the car to even more elegant levels, although most fans of the car prefer it in topless form.
An open top reduces your luggage space to small shopping levels, but if you zip around without passengers the rear seats will gladly accommodate a few Woolies bags. These would also be more comfortable than fully grown adults with long legs, especially on longer journeys.
Our test vehicle’s interior was well finished off in black leather, which isn’t the wisest choice for a convertible. Nonetheless, the seats offer good support and soft leather that can also be heated on cold August days. The rest of the cabin shows a fresh and pleasantly quirky layout.
The RDS radio and CD player understand mp3 sounds and are (sorry, everyone) by a vast margin the BEST sound equipment I’ve experienced in a convertible car. The information screen isn’t always easy to read (especially in direct sunlight with polarised sunglasses), the satellite controls take some getting used to, but the quality and quantity of sound is simply outstanding.
Ventilation controls are uncomplicated and work perfectly, just like in the 308 sedan. The delicate black-on-white instruments with their red needles are also familiar items and look especially good at night. The 308CC also has a metal gear-lever, silver accents and door/grab handles, and silver sports pedals.
Another inheritance is the 1.6-liter in-line 4 cylinder petrol engine with its turbocharger, which also does duties in the 308, 207 GTi, and Mini Cooper S. The power plant has been slightly detuned and gives 308CC drivers 110kW (150hp) or 240Nm to play with. This leads to a zero-to-one-hundred sprint of 10.5 seconds and a top whack of 215km/h.
Its biggest advantages are excellent torque and low fuel consumption, as well as very balanced and quiet operation. In this vehicle I noticed that the engine isn’t very keen on high revs, and especially in higher gears it runs out of motivation when you approach the red zone.
The good news is that there are enough cogs beside you to land you in the torque band again and experience decent accelleration. In everyday use (especially with the roof down) the Peugeot also sported a pleasurable exhaust note and faint turbo blow-off whistle. If you turn the excellent sound system down.
Road holding and handling are also part of the car’s strenghts; the new 308CC clings to tarmac surprisingly well. It doesn’t produce excessive body roll, and not too much body flex; even with the roof hidden away. I would even go so far as to claim that the vehicle can easily do with more power, but its decent manners and smooth ride suit its delicate appearance perfectly.
The Peugeot 308CC also has unbelievably good ABS brakes, loads of airbags, plenty more safety equipment, a 3 year 100 000km warranty, and costs only N$336 500. On a particularly sunny trip with the wind in our hair and the Eagles in our ears, my passenger noted that it’s an absolute bargain!