308 is ready to raise the roof
Peugeot launches its latest weapon in the cabrio-convertible war, writes NEIL McDONALD
IN THE 1930s Peugeot was one of the first carmakers to pioneer what has become widely known as the folding metal roof. This early technology appeared in a range of stylish Peugeots such as the 301, 401, 601 and 402 Eclipse.
Today it has been widely applied to everything from the MercedesBenz SLK to the Ferrari California and other brands.
With the advent of modern technology, the newest cabrio-convertibles, including the 207 and 307, flip and fold with the grace of a ballerina and none of the bulk of the old designs.
Now a new 308 CC is around the corner and Peugeot Automobiles Australia spokesman Mathew McAuley believes it will inject some spice into the line-up.
Prices and specifications are yet to be confirmed, but the 308 CC is tipped to cost about the same as the outgoing 307 CC, which starts at $47,490.
However, since the current model was launched in 2004, the luxury cabrio-convertible market has been swamped with newcomers all vying for a slice of this niche segment.
Buyers now have a choice of the Holden Astra TwinTop, Ford Focus CC and Renault Megane CC, and the recent arrival of the Audi A3 cabrio and BMW 1 Series cabrio, both softtops, has added even more choice.
‘‘When we launched the 307 CC it was a relatively uncluttered segment and we were one of the first to have a four-seater with a folding metal roof,’’ McAuley says. ‘‘It’s a very competitive segment now.’’
At its peak, Peugeot sold 737 307 CCs in 2004, its launch year. Last year 374 were sold and only 101 have found homes this year.
The 308 CC has the visual cache to reverse this downward trend. It shares some styling clues with the 308 hatch and, unlike its smaller rivals, has enough room for four adults.
The CC borrows the hatch’s highperformance 104kW 2.0-litre litre HDi four-cylinder diesel, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. An automatic is expected to be available when it goes on sale.
The car shares the hatch’s wider front and rear track, larger diameter disc brakes and electronic stability control.
The folding metal roof takes about 20 seconds to retract into the boot.
With the roof up there is 465 litres of luggage room and with it down it can carry 266 litres.
The car has strong safety credentials. It has dual front airbags, dual side airbags that protect the chest and pelvis and a separate side head airbag built into the front seats, which ensures effective protection regardless of the seat position.
It also has active rear roll-over protection bars.
Like the 308 hatch, the CC delivers a low-slung stance and sporty profile. The car’s prominent shape and LED rear lights are designed to create a special styling signature.
Inside, the front seats are deeply sculpted and supportive and have integrated headrests.
Like the Mercedes-Benz SLK, Peugeot has developed its own heating system, called Airwave, to direct warm air on to the necks of the front-seat occupants.
Equipment levels are expected to be higher in the new CC, with leather upholstery, safety systems and a high-end audio system.
There is automatic remote-control locking for the glovebox and central armrest, electric sliding front seats, deadlocks for the doors and LED courtesy lights in the door mirrors.
The 308 CC debuts at the Paris Motor Show in September.