Autumnal October may seem a strange month to be launching a convertible car in the UK but, according to Peugeot, demand for open-topped models has never been stronger.
After Britain's best summer weather for more than a decade Peugeot is doubling its line-up of open-top models by launching coupe-cabriolet versions of the 307 range. Peugeot fleet and leasing director Steve Harris said: 'UK demand for drop-top cars is unusually strong, considering our climate is generally unremarkable, but the clear blue skies of recent months have sent interest surging.
'As a result, research findings are now suggesting that a lot more motorists will soon be swapping traditional saloon and hatchback cars for models that better match outdoor lifestyles – and the good news for us is that many of them will be from the corporate sector.
'And as the new derivatives were being launched to the international media in France, Harris claimed: 'One in four fleet buyers who consider the 307 range next year will opt for the CC.
'We have done extremely well with the 206 CC, which introduced the concept of affordable coupe-convertible motoring to Britain three years ago. But I'm expecting the 307 version will lift the lid on extra sales because it is more practical as well as being fun to drive.'
He added: 'In addition to being a swish open-air car, this is a genuine four-seater rather than a two plus two. As such it offers all the benefits and security of a regular saloon when the hood is in position, and business drivers will appreciate the fact that it is able to carry more luggage than the hatchback version.
'This kind of car may not appear to be fleet transport at first sight, but many companies are responding to the needs of their drivers by opening up their lists to include vehicles that satisfy more individual tastes and I'm confident this car will be a hit in the user-chooser sector.
'CC versions accounted for 10% of 206 registrations in Britain last year and we're confident the 307 CC will be another hit in the showrooms.'
Like its smaller stablemate, the CC comes with an impressive, fully automated metal roof that needs only the touch of a button to open and close in 25 seconds.
Launched with a choice of 2.0-litre petrol engines producing 138bhp and 180bhp, the CC's list of standard equipment includes electronic stability control and emergency braking assistance, front airbags and side head and chest airbags, alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning, electric windows, heated mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, two-way adjustable steering wheel, trip computer and a remote-controlled bootlid. The 180bhp model features larger wheels, a CD multi- player and leather trim.
Behind the wheel
A longer than usual test drive over fabulously smooth, traffic-free roads in France quickly highlighted the strengths of a car that will soon be one of the more glamorous contenders for fleet business.
Though it differs mechanically from regular 307s only in the calibration of its electro-hydraulic power steering, the longer and heavier CC provides an assured ride over all surfaces, feels well balanced and inspires confidence as it negotiates corners without drama – even when you are pressing on.
But in 138bhp and 180bhp format, the grown-up CC does have a significant shortcoming for the go-faster driver: it needs a higher engine output than the composure of its suspension, braking and handling would easily contain without compromising safety. An extra 210kg weight penalty for the hood system and body strengthening measures makes both versions feel slow off the mark, but each cruises unobtrusively at motorway speeds.
It would be unfair to say they lack power, but neither provides sufficient punch for snappy overtaking manoeuvres.
On the plus side, progress with the metal roof in place is as quiet and relaxed as a hardtop and sufficient space for four adults means the CC scores highly when it comes to accommodation. In fact, this clever design provides ample room in the back for people of average size when the front seats are set for 6ft 2in front seat occupants. The extra overhang at the rear also allows a surprisingly commodious luggage compartment – another significant benefit for the family or business user.
PEUGEOT insists that engines have been tuned to make the CC feel more like a GT than a GTi on the open road, but the need for extra mid-range torque will be met when turbodiesel power becomes available next year – a move that should make this lifestyle model an even more attractive proposition to fleet buyers.
|CC fact file|
|Engine (cc):||1,997||1,997||Max power (bhp/rpm):||138/6,000||180/7,000|
|Max torque (lb-ft/rpm):||140/4,100||148/4,750|
|Top speed (mph):||128||140|
|Comb economy (mpg):||34.5||32.1|
|CO2 emissions (g/km)::||194||210|
|Fuel tank capacity (l/gal):||50/10.9||50/10.9|
|Transmission:||5-sp man||or 4-sp semi-auto|
|Prices (OTR):||£18,300||- £20,900|