The Peugeot 308CC is a product from the masters of the coupe cabriolet, but is it their best effort yet?
What is it?
This is the Peugeot 308 CC 2.0 HDi 136 auto. The 308 CC is the second generation of Peugeot’s Focus-sized four-seat coupe-cabriolet (although considering the space in the rear 2+2 would be a more accurate description).
The big news is that the new Peugeot 308 CC HDi 136, unlike its 307 CC predecessor, gets the option of an all-new six-speed automatic gearbox to go with its common-rail diesel engine.
What’s it like?
First impressions of the Peugeot 308 CC are that it's not great, but not bad. Peugeot has made a reasonable fist of masking the intrinsically awkward shape of a coupe-cabriolet with a two-piece metal roof. The rear end is still heavy-looking, but the profile is broken up by a crease line that echoes a similar line on the 308 hatch. The rear is broken up by - admittedly rather disingenuous - twin rear faux-diffusers.
Inside, the 308 CC fares rather better. The dash (identical to that in other 308s) looks and feels high quality and the seats are genuinely sumptuous. The 308 CC also has a neck-warming in-seat ventilation system, a first on a four-seat drop-top. Overall, the new Peugeot feels at least a match for anything in the class in quality, and a notch or two above a Focus CC or Astra Twintop.
On the move, the first thing you notice is how well the six-speed auto works in conjunction with the typically smooth 2.0-litre common-rail diesel. Changes are smooth, the ’box gets into the right gear quickly enough to mask the 240lb ft of torque's struggle against a 1620kg kerb weight (at least in town), and the manual mode is quick and intuitive. The only real gripe is the sport mode, which holds on to gears for an unnecessarily long time.
As you might expect of a car that has to carry 1620kg with 134bhp, the Peugeot 308 CC HDi’s performance isn’t exactly stellar. Peugeot claims a leisurely 12.5sec for the run to 62mph, and we can well believe that. And, though the gearbox often masks the lack of torque, overtaking is an activity best planned well in advance.
Then again, the 308 CC isn’t a car that rewards rapid driving. The brakes are good and there’s plenty of grip once you get into a corner, but the over-light steering (which is even more noticeable in town) has such an artificial feel that it’s hard to place the car accurately on the road.
The ride over lumpy British asphalt is a little unyielding and causes the occasional wobble through the car’s body. But our test car was riding on a set of Continental tyres - which are now out of production - so we’ll reserve final judgement on the ride until we get to test the car on proper UK-spec Pirellis. What we can say, however, is that the ride quality deteriorates marginally in the diesel compared with the petrol 308 CC, presumably because the heavier engine necessitates stiffer spring rates.
Should I buy one?
There are better CCs to drive (the Ford Focus and VW Eos to name just two). But if you are looking for a four-seat folding hard-top with a genuinely luxurious feel, then the Peugeot 308 CC will really hit the spot - at least if you can’t stretch to BMW 3-series prices.