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New models - Peugeot - 307 - CC

First drive: Drop top Pug’s premium pursuit

Open and shut: The 307 CC takes just 20 seconds to turn from coupe to convertible.

Peugeot chases Saab and Holden with its folding steel roof 307 CC

20 Apr 2004

PEUGEOT is courting premium sun-seekers with its new 307 CC “Coupe Convertible”, launched locally last week.

It replaces the Pininfarina-penned 306 Cabriolet, which was available here from October 1994 to December last year.

With one body style, two engine choices and three variants on offer, the French four-seater drop top is targeting the recently revitalised Saab 9-3 and Audi A4 as well as the segment-leading Holden Astra Convertible.

Peugeot is counting on the 307 CC’s slick all-weather folding roof system, four-occupant accommodation and reasonably large boot abilities to help justify its $50,000-plus pricing and upmarket positioning.

Unique body panels also play a part, with all exterior components from the windscreen back being unique to the CC. Its steeply raked A-pillars, domed pillarless-look roof line and raised boot imbue a fresh visual identity from the mini MPV-like 307 hatchbacks.

Overall length rises around 140mm to 4347mm as a result but the hatchback’s 2605mm wheelbase remains the same for the CC, while the height falls by 12mm.

The steel roof was developed by German specialist CTS – supplier to the Mercedes SL and SLK – rather than French engineering and coach-building outfit Heuliez, which is responsible for the initially problematic device that sits on the 206 CC 2+2 seater.

As the name suggests, the CC’s mechanical and drivetrain DNA is pure 307, albeit on a stretched body to accommodate the boot-residing roof mechanism.

With the roof erected, the boot’s capacity is a reasonable 350 litres, but drops to 204 litres in 25 seconds when the car is in convertible mode.

This compares with its smaller sibling’s 410 litres roof-up, 175 litres roof-down and 20-second folding time. But the 307’s is fully automatic (the 206 CC requires manual latching manoeuvres), while its erection time takes in all side glass repositioning too.

Better still, unlike the 206 CC, the 307 CC dispenses with inflatable tyre-repair kits for a full-sized spare.

The folding roof mechanism has added about 200kg in overall weight to the 307 CC compared to its hatchback counterpart – the upshot of reinforcing the windscreen pillars, adding a larger box-section cross member under the passenger compartment and beefing up the rear bulkhead.

Overall kerb weights range from the Dynamic manual’s 1457kg to in excess of 1490kg for a specced-up Sport.

To help combat the adverse effects of this, Peugeot utilises the firmer long-travel suspension specification from its recently unveiled, Chinese-built 307 sedan.

But the basic design and geometry remain true to the CC’s hatchback donor, meaning MacPherson struts at the front and a deformable U-shaped cross member arrangement at the rear.

The regular 307’s electro-hydraulic power steering is also untouched, but the brakes are bigger to better counterbalance the extra bulk.

Engines are a familiar Peugeot family mix, comprising the 1999-vintage 2.0-litre twin-cam 16-valve EW10J4 four-cylinder motor in the “base” Dynamic and its EW10J4S derivative supplied to the “Sport” from the new 206 GTI 180.

The Dynamic dumps out 100kW of power at 6000rpm and 190Nm of torque at 4100rpm. That’s 30kW and 12Nm shy of the Sport’s output. But the latter’s maximum power and torque figures occur later, at 1000rpm and 650rpm higher up the rev range respectively.

Drivers of the six-speed Peugeot 306 GTi-6 will be disappointed that a five-speed is the only manual gearbox on offer, while a four-speed Porsche Tiptronic-style automatic transmission is available with the lesser powerplant.

Compared to the 307 hatch, the CC’s occupants sit 40mm lower to the ground for better windscreen clearance and a more appropriate ‘sporty’ feel. Rear passengers sit more upright and slightly closer to the front seats for better roof and boot packaging.

23 center image Equipment levels are generous with both models featuring dual front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Assist, traction control, an electronic stability control program, climate control air-conditioning, cruise control, a CD player, automatic headlights on/off, rain-sensing wipers, alloy wheels and keyless entry.

Besides the better performing engine, the Sport buyers also benefits from leather upholstery, 17-inch (instead of 16-inch) alloy wheels, parking distance assistance and an alarm.

On the surprise and delight front, the exterior boot opening button is hidden in the 307 badge’s ‘0’, the rear seat rollover hoops are concealed in the passenger headrests, the instrumentation is chrome ringed, there are aluminium pedals and gear knob, and the tail-lights are made up of 80 diodes that greatly improve performance and are designed to last the life of the car.

Peugeot Automobiles Australia expects to shift 950 307 CCs this year and 1000 in 2005, with the sole automatic Dynamic model making up to 70 per cent of volume.

Optimistically, only a “slight” sales cannibalisation of 206 CC sales is envisaged, although globally the company says up to 20 per cent is likely in the early stages.

Back home, PAA has adopted the US buzzword “masstige” (mass prestige) to explain the coupe convertible’s anticipated demographic.

In a nutshell, the demographic is hitherto popular mass-market buyers seeking to move up to a prestige brand, but settling on a badge that is somewhere in-between.

PAA says local 307 CC types will be predominantly 35 to 45-year-old urban professionals desiring an everyday all-rounder or a second car that’s a bit of an “indulgence”.

And to help attract customers, Peugeot is part way through the completion of its corporate “Blue Billboard” dealership redesign.

Dubbed as the “Blue Boxes” by some, they instantly identify Peugeot dealers thanks to the deep blue hues outside and Ikea-like blonde wood interiors.

This may help pave the way for the 407 mid-sized sedan and wagon, which are expected to incur a price rise over the outgoing 406 range when they go on sale from around October this year, to correspond with the new models’ significant rise in specification and technology.

The 307 CC is the sixth steel roof coupe-cum-convertible car available in Australia after the Mercedes SLK and SL, Lexus SC 430, Daihatsu Copen and the company’s own 206 CC, although it is worth noting the 1935 Peugeot 402 Eclipse was this style of drop top’s daddy.

Other CC style progeny poised for arrival include the Renault Megane CC, the Volkswagen Concept C-based Golf convertible replacement being readied for this September’s Paris motor show and perhaps even the Opel Corsa/Holden Barina-based Holden Tigra.

PRICING
Peugeot 307 CC Dynamic $49,990
Peugeot 307 CC Dynamic auto $52,190
Peugeot 307 CC Sport $56,990

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