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Peugeot 307 CC Dynamic Test

The 307 CC is a beautiful looking car - but is the overall package good enough?

By Michael Knowling

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At a glance...

  • Needs more power and/or less weight
  • Disappointing ergonomics and switchgear
  • Limited rear space
  • Distinctive styling
  • Effective folding steel roof
  • Great suspension and steering
  • Good safety
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Let’s cut to the chase. The Peugeot 307 CC has many fine attributes, but it certainly isn’t the pick of the class.

The more time you spend in the 307 CC (Coupe Cabriolet), the more it becomes obvious that its biggest drawcard is styling. This is the perfect machine if you like being the centre of attention and returning to your car to find it surrounded by a swarm of people. Few cars attract so much curiosity.

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The CC’s bonnet and windscreen are raked at an incredible angle - and the rear is equally eye-catching. With the roof extended, the CC looks like some kind of space-age capsule – weird but funky. Drop the roof and there can be no argument that the CC is absolutely gorgeous.

But does the 307 CC drive as well as it looks?

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Unfortunately not. The base-model CC Dynamic (as tested) is powered by the same 2.0 litre DOHC four-cylinder found in the Peugeot 406, 307 hatch and 206. With 100kW and 190Nm (at 6000 and 4100 rpm respectively) this engine is pushed to its limits in the heavy CC.

Heavy, you ask? You bet. In addition to the weight of a power-operated folding steel roof, the CC incorporates extensive body strengthening that contributes to a 1423kg kerb mass. That’s about 200kg heavier than the 307 hatch. This extra weight sucks out any thrill you might get from the engine’s throttle response and wide spread of torque.

This is not a car to quicken your pulse.

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Our test CC was equipped with a 5 speed manual gearbox which let us wring every bit of performance out of the 2.0 litre engine. The ratios are well-spaced and the clutch is light, but the shift action is very notchy. (A 4-speed sequential-style automatic transmission is available as an option.)

Peugeot claims the 100kW 307 CC manual can accelerate to 100 km/h in 10.9 seconds – but we’d like to see that. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t achieve better than 12.3 seconds.

Thankfully, fuel consumption is quite frugal – over a wide variety of driving conditions we averaged 9.5 litres per 100 km. But the engine’s 10.0:1 compression ratio means premium unleaded fuel is a requirement for ‘optimal’ performance. There goes any monetary saving at the pumps...

The 307 CC’s chassis is as impressive as its straight-line performance is disappointing.

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Using the same wheelbase as the 307 hatch, the CC has numerous features to improve structural rigidity (which is a problem for many convertible/cabriolets). Strengthening tubes are inserted in the A-pillars, stiffeners are added to the centre pillar and door, and the rear bulkhead is reinforced. On the road, the CC exhibits almost no scuttle shake – Peugeot has done a very good job in this department.

The stiff platform mounts MacPherson front struts and a trailing arm IRS with transverse torsion bars. With a standard ESP system (incorporating traction control and stability control), the 307 CC is wonderfully balanced and safe. Enter a corner too fast and lift off the accelerator and the rear steps out just enough to regain your intended cornering line - its great fun to chuck around. The standard 205/55 16 Dunlop SP Sport 2000 tyres (mounted on 16 x 6.5 inch alloys) provide easily enough grip to cope with the available performance.

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The 307 CC’s ride quality is top-notch. There’s always enough suspension travel to soak up holes in the road and the spring and damper rates are spot-on – never harsh yet not overly soft.

The steering is another point scorer. The CC’s power rack and pinion arrangement gives excellent steering precision, which is a great match with the suspension – mid-corner steering correction is almost never needed.

Brakes, too, are impressive on paper and on the road. With 283 x 26mm ventilated discs at the front and 247 x 9mm solid discs at the rear, the 307 CC has plenty of stopping power. The standard ESP system also includes ABS, emergency brake assist and EBD. Stomp on the brake pedal with one wheel on gravel and the other on bitumen (as you would if you’d accidentally dropped a wheel off the road) and the 307 CC remains totally composed.

Now let’s look at the CC’s packaging.

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Space is not a problem for the two front occupants – there’s ample headroom and the low waistline gives a pleasant ambience. But the rear passengers aren’t so lucky. The rear backrest is extremely upright, which is uncomfortable in its own right and forces your head against the roof. (Though you won’t have a problem with rear headroom if you’re shorter than about 180cm.) However, no matter how tall you are, you’ll need to adopt a knees-out position to clear the front backrest. This isn’t a concern when there’s only one person in the back, but put two in the back seat and you’ll be rubbing knees...

The lack of rear space can be blamed on the CC’s folding roof mechanism – its solid steel roof, glass rear window and automated actuation system inevitably gobble space. On the upside, when the roof is up, the 307 CC feels just like a coupe – it feels so conventional you sometimes forget to drop the roof when the sun is shining. Dropping the roof is a one-touch, 25 second operation – it couldn’t be easier. There are no latches to wrestle with.

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Strangely, the CC trades rear occupant space for a generous boot. With the roof up, the 307 CC can swallow an impressive 350 litre volume of cargo. When you want to drive top-down, however, there’s only 204 litres of available boot space. (This is because the steel roof retracts into the boot, consuming some of the space.) A full-size spare wheel is accessible beneath the boot’s false floor.

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The CC cabin is well equipped. Standard fruit includes climate control, cruise control, trip computer, power mirrors and windows (with a single button to lower all four windows) and a single CD/tuner with six speakers. Sound quality is pretty good but radio reception is poor. A leather steering wheel, white-face dials with chrome bezels and various aluminium trim highlights are exclusive to the CC.

Note that our test car came with the AUD$3000 optional ‘partial leather’ treatment – cloth trim is standard.

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Safety is well taken care of by front airbags, head/chest side airbags, telescopic rear roll-over bars (built into the rear headrests), an auto-dipping centre mirror and adjustable angle headlights – these in addition to the usual 307 safety features. We also love the automatic headlights and windscreen wipers – these should come standard on all new cars.

Unfortunately, the 307 CC cabin is riddled with poor ergonomics and unintuitive controls.

The central LCD screen (which provides ambient temperature display, date/time, audio and trip computer information) is very difficult to read in direct sunlight – especially when you’re wearing sunglasses. The main gauge cluster also suffers from poor markings.

And it doesn’t end there... The cruise control and remote audio switchgear is awkward, the left-right switch for the power mirrors is a trick for first-time CC drivers and the pedal placement is lousy.

The build quality of our test car was also dubious.

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There are no problems with trim materials, panel fitment or paint quality but the loud clunk when you close a door borders on embarrassing. The doors also have an annoying “short drop” window function where the window is dropped a few millimetres whenever the door is opened - this lets you open the door without fouling the outer weather seal on the roof. Unfortunately, this system takes some getting used to – you’ll inevitably catch the window on the seal a few times as you try to open the door too quickly. It’s a pain.

Our test car also had a couple of creaks from the roof joins and a high frequency in-cabin buzz, which seemed to be linked with steering position. The boot release button was also faulty, which meant the boot had to be opened via the remote.

No matter how much we want to love the 307 CC for all its stylistic charm, it's not a standout vehicle. And that makes pricing a critical factor.

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At AUD$49,990, the 307 CC Dynamic is AUD$8,500 dearer than the base Renault Megane cabriolet and is exactly the same price as Holden’s Astra Convertible Turbo (see New Car Test - Holden Astra Turbo Convertible for our test). Is the 307 CC good enough to pip the much faster soft-top Astra? We don’t think so. Sure, the CC has a fully electric folding steel roof, more design flair and a few other advantages but the Astra combats this with oodles of performance, better rear passenger space and fewer niggles.

How much is style worth to you?

The Go-Fast(er) 307 CC

If you want a 307 CC with more performance than the base-model 100kW Dynamic, have a look at the more powerful Sport version.

Using the same VCT, 10.8:1 compression engine as the Pug 206 GTi 180, the 307 CC Sport offers 130kW at 7000 rpm and 202Nm at 4750 rpm. This gives the pretty Pug 0 – 100 km/h acceleration in 10.0 seconds (claimed). You also get bigger brakes, 17 inch wheels, a 5 disc CD, alarm, interior tweaks and more.

Available only as a 5 speed manual, the 307 CC Sport retails for AUD$56,990.

The 307 CC Dynamic was provided for this test by Peugeot Australia.

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