Peugeot has a tradition of turning its humdrum production cars into rakish convertibles, and the 308 CC represents the latest in that line.
Here in range-topping Roland Garros trim, grim autumnal weather isnt the ideal environment in which to test a convertible – but thankfully, the folding hard top makes the car a coupe too. Does it do both jobs equally well, or would you be better off buying something else?
Its clear Peugeot has gone to some effort to improve the looks of the 308 CC, particularly at the front. The grille no longer evokes memories of Cheshire cats and basking sharks, and some subtle detail changes have brought it more in line with the steadily improving Peugeot range.
From the side its all still a bit awkward, though. Old canvas convertible roofs were fairly easy to package, but the large, two-piece folding metal effort takes up a great deal more space. Even with a large boot in which to stow the top, Peugeots designers have had to make the rear end uncomfortably large, and despite a characterful swoosh down the side of the bodywork, it ends up looking a little lumpen.
Viewed directly from the back, things improve again. The LED-peppered rear lights look clean and modern, and the diffuser-style rear bumper breaks up the otherwise large mass of plastic at the rear. A small lip spoiler finishes the effect.
Its important to note that the car undoubtedly looks best with the roof down too – so theres no better excuse to drop the top. Our cars 18-inch matte-finish alloys looked great too.
Not unsurprisingly, the 308 CC shares its interior with the 308 hatchback
. This means you get a fairly attractive and well built environment in which to drive – but Peugeot has made a few tweaks to make it feel a little more unique.
Only a few, mind. In Roland Garros trim, a Peugeot special edition staple synonymous with luxurious touches, the CC features white leather seats. They both look and feel great, with Roland Garros logos stitched into the seat backs and integrated headrests. We just hope Peugeot has treated the leather to avoid it looking filthy after a few weeks
Some may find the driving position a little odd, but just as with the Peugeot RCZ
we tested not so long ago, there was enough adjustment for a 5 foot 9-inch frame to get comfortable. The wheel adjusts by rake and reach, and the seats also have a good degree of adjustment. Theres also plenty of space in the footwell.
Rear seat passengers will be less happy. The taller the front passenger, the smaller the rear ones will have to be to get comfy, and anyone over around 56 will find their heads brushing the rear screen. With the roof dropped this isnt a problem, but legroom still is – the huge front seats dont leave a lot of room for your knees.
In terms of ambience though, the Roland Garros isnt bad – if a little behind the more low-slung RCZ, which also has a little more interior bling. Refinement is good too – the rakish windscreen minimises wind noise, so youll only really hear tyre roar and a rasp from the engine inside the cabin.
With the roof down you get more wind noise too, but the heater is effective, and Peugeots Airwave system feeds warm air onto your neck from the seat. You need to turn it up to maximum power to really notice it, though.
Boot space depends on whether the roof is up or down. The space is compromised by the roofs workings, and a divider lets you know how much you can store before dropping the roof. We fit a reasonable amount below this – itll take two hand luggage-sized travel bags and a few sleeping bags – and if you avoid dropping the roof, itll take the same again (plus a bit more) above the divider.
Irritatingly, both the boot lid and door seals had a tendency to drip water into the car when opened in the rain – the door seals right onto the electric controls for the heated seats. While we’re nit-picking, the windscreen wipers are also set up for left-hand drive cars.
The 308 CC is a tidy handler. Pushed hard it keeps its composure, grips well and steers accurately.
The steering is actually fairly weighty compared to many modern cars, but youll get used to it. There isnt a lot of feel, but the car responds predictably. Only the relatively high kerb weight seems to hamper the car to any degree – its not as nimble as you might expect from a sporty-looking convertible, and the car does wallow a little over crests and through dips.
Ride quality isnt bad either, and manages to keep wobbles from the convertible chassis to a minimum. Youll notice them a little more with the roof down, but only on rougher roads.
Is it fun though? Were not so sure. Provided the weather is good, the CC is better for posing than it is for carving corners. And most of the fun youll be having is on the straight bits
As the THP 200 engine is actually rather good. The 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged unit puts out close to 200 horsepower. It can also be found in a selection of other Peugeots and MINIs, in different states of tune.
Its both a smooth and entertaining companion. The exhaust parp it emits when pressing on is actually quite addictive, encouraging you to drive it a little harder just to enjoy the engine. Itd be even more enjoyable if the manual gearshift was a little less obstructive, though this too improves the harder you drive.
The THP is also usefully punchy just about everywhere. Theres enough shove for decent acceleration at motorway speeds, and overtaking is a doddle. Its also refined at higher velocities, so youll have no qualms about doing longer journeys.
Value for money
Fun though the top-end THP engine is, you pay the price when signing on the line. In Roland Garros trim, the 308 CC is a 26,295 car – only the 2.0 HDi diesel model is more expensive.
A top-end, 160 bhp diesel Renault Megane CC
isnt as quick, but offers better economy, looks a little more elegant and costs over a grand less – or two grand less, if you compare it to the Peugeot diesel. A less well-equipped Audi A3 Cabrio
can also be had for little over 25k, even with the 200-horsepower petrol engine, and considerably more golf club kudos.
But perhaps the 308 CCs biggest rival comes from within. Brutus the RCZ stabs Coupe-Cabrio Caesar in the back with a price tag under 27k for the top-end 200-hp GT model – while looking stunning and offering a better driving experience, too.
It isnt all bad news. The 308 CC THP 200 gets 40.3 mpg combined economy, and road tax of 170 a year. During our test, the trip computer showed around 40 mpg at 70 mph, and high 30s in mixed driving. With five stars in EuroNCAP crash testing, the CC is also a safe convertible.
The Peugeot 308 CC Roland Garros is a good car, but also a victim of its type. Its not as entertaining to drive as a proper sports car, and the convertible aspect requires compromises in packaging and weight that youd not get from a regular coupe. Peugeot itself offers one of those, theRCZ
- and while having even less space for rear passengers, its better in virtually every other way. Better value, too.
The CC possibly makes more sense lower down the range. The excellent THP engine is a little wasted in a car not really designed for enthusiasts. Wed plump for one of the cheaper models, drive a little slower, but still enjoy that wind-in-the-hair feeling.
What the press think
The 308 CCs interior quality and style come in for plenty of praise, as does the folding metal roof – but like us, the wider press is less keen on the excitement-free handling, and criticise the rear-seat space. Several recommend the Volkswagen Eos as an alternative.
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