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Peugeot 307CC review (2003-2008)
Engine: 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder
Fuel type: Petrol
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Date of test: September 2003
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What is it?
Peugeot's 307CC is one of the new breed of 'coupe-cabriolets' coming with a folding hardtop. That means when the roof is up you essentially have a coupe, though on the rare occasions when the sun shines you can drop the roof at the touch of a button. Doing so reduces boot space dramatically, but what's impressive is just how well packaged these folding hardtops have become. Peugeot introduced folding hardtop technology into the mainstream with the 206CC, the 307CC following its smaller relative, though with it there's no need to unclip the roof before pressing the button to drop it.
Where does it fit?
The 307CC is a real in-between kind of car. It's ideal for those that want the posing appeal of a cabriolet, but who might have to leave the car parked outside all the time and are concerned about security. Roof up and it's just like a conventional coupe, only the odd shutline giving the game away that the hood can be hidden away in the boot. Open-topped cars fall into two categories, sporting models for thrills, or more relaxed and slightly more practical versions for enjoying the sun at a more sedate pace. The 307CC falls into the later category, even with the more powerful 180bhp version of the 2.0-litre engine.
Is it for you?
Peugeot will try to convince you that the 307CC offers seats for four adults. We differ in our opinion. If you need to carry more than one adult passenger on a regular basis look elsewhere, though the rear seats can offer reasonable space (in this class of car) for children. It's certainly more practical than more sporting cabriolets, but with that you lose the shear 'want-to-drive-it' appeal. If you're after a stylish, relatively inexpensive and versatile route to drop-top motoring then the 307CC might prove to be just the thing.
What does it do well?
It combines the qualities of the hatchback it's based on, with open-roof desirability rather well. It's a stiff structure, meaning that there's little of the 'scuttle-shake' apparent in some open cars, while this also allows the suspension to work properly. As such the 307CC handles well, the ride too composed over the smooth French roads where we tested it. The boot is huge with the roof up, and still reasonably spacious with it folded away. The rear seats do offer genuine additional seating, even if it's only really recommended for smaller adults or children. I'm not a big fan of the looks personally, but judging by the response it gets from others I seem to be in the minority. Given the success of the 206CC, the 307CC is certain to follow in its smaller relative's footsteps and sell in huge numbers.
What doesn't it do well?
Like all cars convertibles there is a compromise. Space is tight in the rear, while the boot too is restricted both in space and access when the roof is in full sunshine mode. The 2.0-litre engine feels strained, needing to be pushed hard to deliver its performance - whether you go for the 138bhp or 180bhp version. The latter is particularly vocal, and the gearing means it maintains high engine revs at motorway speeds making it a noisy. The steering has a strong self-centring action which is unusual at first and the gearshift is rather long in throw too. Roof down it's blustery, fit the optional deflector and you can wave goodbye to using your rear seat, while the ventilation (the heater in particular) has a tough time keeping you snug when the roof is down and the outside air is cool.
What's it like to live with?
As a day-to-day proposition for a one person or a couple then the 307CC is a desirable proposition - especially if you don't want to sacrifice practicality completely for the sake of the few days a year that we have the sunshine that allows you to enjoy this car at its best. Those with young children might find the rear seats suitable for short journeys. So long as you don't expect a sporting machine the 307CC is an impressive all-rounder, the folding hardtop a real bonus for those parking their cars on the street at night. Cars like this are rarely bought with the head though, style is one of the biggest influencing factors, so as long as you accept that any car in this class is going to be compromised then you'll undoubtedly enjoy the 307CC.
Would we buy it?
I'm a big fan of open-top motoring, indeed I'm strictly in the 'if it isn't raining then the roof should be down' camp. Convertibles aren't really meant to be practical and in trying to do so with the 307CC Peugeot seems to have missed the mark. Certainly you could carry two in the back for short journeys, but cars like this are meant to be selfish indulgences. When was the last time you saw four people in a cabriolet? For pure posing the VW Beetle betters it, the Vauxhall Astra convertible is a better drive and the 307CC's smaller relative, the 206CC, offers much the same experience (albeit slightly less practical) for less money. So, impressive as the 307CC is, it's not for us. It'll still sell in huge numbers though.
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