Car reviews - Peugeot - 308 - CC coupe-convertible range
13 Jul 2009
DELAYED by three months due to its popularity in Europe, Peugeot’s new 308 CC (coupe-cabriolet) could not have arrived at a worse time – precisely in the middle of a gripping Australian winter.
Nonetheless, Peugeot hopes its first diesel-powered cabriolet to be sold here is not too late to reverse the declining sales of the 307 CC it replaces, by emulating the stellar success of the volume-selling 308 hatchback upon which it is based.
On sale here since February 2004, the 307 CC’s popularity has waned almost 40 per in the first half of a year in which discretionary spending has plummeted, with just six sold last month. Meantime, the smaller 207 CC attracted 300 buyers in its first full year on sale last year, but is 48 per cent down so far in 2009.
Between them, the 207 CC and 307 CC still comprise 10 per cent of Peugeot’s Australian sales, which in line with the total new-car industry are down 15 per cent, but would be lower again if not for the popularity of the five-door 308s. Sales of the 308 are up almost 75 per cent in the first half of this year to account for more than half of all Peugeots sold here, with diesels representing 53 per cent.
The 120-year-old French maker points out that the introduction of its most advanced CC model, which launches here in two equipment grades with two turbocharged four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, occurs 75 years after it released the world’s first coupe-cabriolet, the 401 Eclipse, in 1934. With more than 650,000 CCs sold globally since then, Peugeot says it is the world’s biggest producer of the coupe-cabriolet body style.
Of course, the first modern folding hardtop was seen here in early 1997 on the Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster, while the 308 CC is only Peugeot’s fourth coupe-cabriolet to emerge since the brand’s pioneering affordable four-seater hardtop convertible – the 206 CC – arrived here in late 2001.
Priced from $48,990 – $1500 more than its direct predecessor in the $47,490 307 CC 2.0 Dynamic – the entry-level 308 CC 1.6 turbo-petrol does lay claim, however, to being the most affordable vehicle to offer a heating system built into its front head restraints, designed to warm occupants’ necks and shoulders.
Similar to the Airscarf system that debuted in 2004 on the SLK before gracing the same brand’s facelifted 2008 SL, Peugeot’s three-stage Airwave system is available as part of a $4100 option pack that also comprises leather trim, heated front seats and a wind-blocker, and comes standard on the premium 308 CC S variant.
First seen at the Paris and Sydney motor shows in October last year, Pug’s newest CC completes the 308 small-car range that includes the hatch and Touring wagon, which were launched here in February and August 2008 respectively.
Its sub-$50,000 starting price makes the manual petrol variant a direct rival for the ‘Roadster-Coupe’ version of Mazda’s iconic MX-5 ($48,755) and is bookended by Volkswagen’s popular Eos, which is actually cheaper in 2.0 103TDI diesel guise ($47,990 manual, $50,490 DSG auto) than 2.0 147TFSI petrol form ($49,990 manual, $52,490 DSG auto).
Other coupe-cabriolet competitors for the 308 CC include Renault’s Megane CC 2.0 Exception (from $44,990), Ford’s short-lived Focus CC 2.0 (from $45,490) and Holden’s Astra TwinTop 2.2 (from $45,790), and BMW’s top-selling 1 Series Convertible, which opens with the $52,900 120i manual.
While the cheapest 308 CC is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre inline petrol engine from the mid-range 308 hatch and wagon, and delivers the same 110kW of power at 5800rpm as a six-speed manual and 103kW at 6000rpm as a four-speed auto, which costs $2000 extra at $50,990. Both transmission versions offer a respectable 240Nm of torque from just 1400rpm.
The PSA Group’s familiar 2.0-litre HDi turbo-diesel engine, with FAP particulate filter, again produces 100kW at 4000rpm and 320Nm from 2000rpm and comes mated exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission, priced from $52,990.
The 308 CC’s flagship S specification carries a $7000 price premium in both auto-only petrol ($57,990) and diesel ($59,990) forms. It adds, as standard, leather trim, power-adjustable heated front seats with memory function, Airwave, wind-blocker, directional Xenon headlights with washers and automatic height adjustment, front parking sensors and 18-inch wheels with 225/40 R18 tyres, which are a $900 option on the base model.
Metallic, pearlescent and premium exterior paint costs a respective $950, $1200 and $1500 extra on all 308 CCs.
Standard equipment for both engine variants includes six airbags – including a “world-first” side head airbag that’s also mounted in the front head restraints – plus electronic traction and stability control, automatic rollover bars, four-wheel discs brakes with ventilated front rotors, an anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), emergency brake assist (EBA).
Along with a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, all models also come with an automatic remote locking glovebox and central storage compartment, rear parking sensors, power-folding door mirrors with LED courtesy lights, MP3 connectivity, an electric-assist rear-seat access function, 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/45 R17 tyres, LED tail-lights, cloth sports seats, speed-sensitive power steering and a 10.7-metre turning circle.
A boot volume of 465 litres (up 115 litres) shrinks to 266 when the roof is stowed, in a process that can take place at speeds of less than 12km/h and which Peugeot says takes 20 seconds to complete.
Kerb weights range between 1587kg and 1695kg, making the base petrol manual both the quickest and fastest 308 CC with 9.8-second 0-100km/h acceleration and 215km/h top speed claims, while the petrol and diesel autos are evenly matched at a respective 11.6 seconds/205km/h and 11.8 seconds/202km/h.
Combined-cycle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions range from seven litres per 100km and 185 grams per kilometre for the diesels, to a slightly thirstier but cleaner 7.5L/100km and 177g/km for the entry-level petrol manual, and 8.1L/100km and 192g/km for the petrol autos.
Peugeot says that torsional body rigidity is up over the 307 CC with the roof up and down, thanks to reinforced areas including the sills, central interior floorpan, rear footwells, A-pillars and rear bulkhead. Front and rear shoulder width is said to increase a respective 11mm and 24mm over the 307 CC while, compared with the 308 hatch, the CC has a 12mm/8mm lower front/rear ride height and revised suspension tune.
Other vital dimensions include an overall 4400m length (up 43mm), 1817mm width (up 58mm), 1426mm height (72mm lower than the 308 hatch, which also has a more upright windscreen and 15mm-lower front seats) 2605mm wheelbase and, just for the record, a maximum braked-trailer towing capacity of 1270kg for auto petrol versions and 1400kg for all others.
“It is not only a remarkable car visually, but also to drive,” said Peugeot Automobiles Australia general manager/director Ken Thomas. “The interior is a truly luxurious place to be it is a place of elegance, efficiency and comfort all rolled into one – this will sway a lot of potential customers.
“We are confident that the affordability of the 308 CC may surprise many, given its style, quality and the level of standard equipment.”
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