Car reviews - Peugeot - 307 - CC
Roof operation, comfort, refinement, handling
Room for improvement
Lacklustre performance, expensive
15 Apr 2004
JADED motoring journalists and PR types probably haven’t noticed, but the 307 CC is causing a quiet tsunami of interest and expectation among the public.
It’s the model most recalled by my car-illiterate friends from last year’s motor show coverage I’ve heard kids call it their "Dream Car" on public transport and acquaintances at parties and pubs constantly corner me lately, trying on the “When/how much/how fast is it?” interrogation.
You’d think Peugeot bloody well invented the cheap convertible!
And you know what? It’s the folding steel roof that’s encapsulated their attention. Sure the baby 206 CC has it too, but it’s too petite, too Barbie and definitely not enough Ken… or Kevin or Keith.
The looks are also a winner for many. I personally find the CC’s styling slightly unpalatable after its pretty Pininfarina-penned 306 Cabriolet predecessor.
But that old Pug felt fragile and wobbly where this 307 CC feels solid and secure, be it on 120km/h motorways or winding down a mountain road with odd road cambers, surfaces and finishes.
Roof up or down there are no complaints there. My concern is that perhaps the CC is too refined.
Even at speed, toupees aren’t tossed, conversations aren’t curtailed and insects aren’t eaten. The stunningly angled windscreen keeps all at bay, betraying the true wind-in-hair/bugs-in-teeth open feel of a dedicated drop top.
But since Peugeot says most folk only buy one convertible in their lives, this is more than enough for most.
The upshot of this outstanding comfort and composure is total usability, as long as the rains don’t come. And when they do, the roof is as easy and effortless as the best in the business, with no latches or lifting.
Peugeot has gone to some effort to help differentiate the $25,000-plus gap between the base 307 XS and CC inside, with lovely chrome instrumentation surrounds and aluminium cabin accents on both models, and the availability of contrasting leather upholstery.
There’s certainly enough space up front for two tall adults. Rear-riding passengers need to be shorter for absolute comfort, but at least most people will fit.
The boot, however, isn’t so accommodating unless you’re going to be driving with the top up always. The residing roof robs the car of cargo-carrying capacity and even an overnight bag needs to be flattened to fit. It’s the price paid for the steel folding roof privilege.
The ride is satisfyingly supple over a wide range of road surfaces and irregularities, creating an old-school Peugeot feel and adding to the expensive feel of the car.
Relaxed and unruffled also describes the 307’s performance, although both the 100kW Dynamic and 130kW Sport manual examples sampled by GoAuto were still very new and tight. The latter only had 300km on the odometer. Still, after a while, drivers will wish for more performance from both models.
The culprit here is the CC’s 1470kg-plus weight. Just as it smothers bumps into submission, it also chokes the Peugeot’s verve and sprightliness.
Sure it’s smooth, but time and revs are required if decent progress is to be performed. Constant use of the light but slightly sloppy gearshift in the 100kW Dynamic is the only way to keep the sleepy 2.0-litre stirring.
At least the Sport’s shift felt firmer and surer. It also has much more poke to its acceleration, especially in the mid-rev ranges. But it too feels the CC’s added mass.
Peugeot Automobiles Australia would probably love to sell the best engine available in European versions – the HDI turbo-diesel unit with its 205Nm-plus of tub-tugging torque – but a diesel is anathema to the 307 CC’s demographic … for now.
Drivers reared and steered on 1990s front-drive Peugeots may find the helm lacking in bite, but the CC’s steering shines as more is demanded from it. With sharp, fluid handling, grippy roadholding and a satisfying amount of body control, the 307’s fun factor rises the faster you go.
Which all makes the reassuringly responsive brakes a real blessing when roads get wriggly and steep.
The 307 CC is bigger, safer, more comfortable, stronger and more spacious than the 306 could ever be. For most people, the fact it’s not as sexy, sharp or as responsive will not matter.
And while it’s not cheap, the CC makes a convincing value-packed alternative to the Saab 9-3 and Audi A4 convertibles.
Add the Peugeot badge kudos and steel-roof magic that was once the province of Mercedes-Benz, and you can see why Mr and Ms J Public are taking notice.
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