Peugeot 307 is a newcomer to the South African market that
embraces the increasingly popular Coupe-Cabriolet theme, which
is incidentally what the "cc" in the name stands
has sold well over 100000 of the smaller 206 cc since its
introduction two years ago, and the little 206 has done
surprisingly well in South Africa too.
307 cc moves the Coupe Cabriolet into an interesting sector of
the market here. The idea of a steel-roofed coupe-cabriolet
was pioneered by Mercedes-Benz with its SLK back in 1996 and
until now, most four-seater cabriolets have been equipped with
fabric roofs. But Peugeot hopes to sell over 60 000 of these
larger 307 coupe cabriolets throughout the world in 2004.
The advantages of the steel-roofed cabriolets are that they
provide greater durability than a fabric top, as well as
greater security. There is also an advantage in lower wind
noise, but the disadvantages are that the folding mechanism is
more complex. And a steel roof takes more space to tuck away
for those sunny days or evenings.
To accommodate the metal roof, the Peugeot 307 cc has quite a
large boot. Yet with a clever cab-forward design, the rear of
the car is not unduly large, so visually the silhouette of the
car remains reasonably elegant with just a bit of heaviness in
the rump area.
Another clever packaging technique of the design is that the
windscreen pillar extends far back. The cut-line of the roof
panel is in fact in line with the centre of the doors, and
this results in less sheet metal that needs to be stowed away
in the boot area.
The 307 CC comes in two models for the South African market.
The base model is a 100 kW four-speed automatic version. The
model we tested is the top-of-the-range five-speed manual 130
kW version, which uses the same powerful four-cylinder engine
that powers the boy-racer 206 GTi 180. In fact the
"180" designation refers to the power output of the
engine, which is the horsepower equivalent of 130 kW.
Although that power figure is very good for a two-litre,
four-cylinder motor, potential 307 cc customers should realise
that this is a style car, rather than a sports car in the
mould of, say, a BMW Z4 or an Audi TT.
The 16-valve engine with variable valve timing provides crisp,
pleasing power delivery with a refined engine note, and it will rev
easily to 7 000 rpm.
Torque is also good, with 202 Newton Metres delivered at 4 750
rpm, so you don't need to wring the car's neck to keep it in
But the big drawback as far as performance freaks are
concerned is one of weight. This is a factor that affects all
open-topped cars, as they need lots of metal reinforcing for
the lower part of the bodywork to maintain body rigidity.
Thus the Peugeot 307 cc weighs in at about 1 500 kg, which is
probably about 250 kg heavier than the equivalent sedan.
Of course that extra weight is also due to the numerous
electric motors and circuitry needed to raise and fold the
roof. But the upside is that the 307 cc is fully equipped in
terms of luxury and safety.
Apart from the very rigid windscreen structure, which provides
an effective rollover bar, the rear passengers are also
protected by roll bars which pop up automatically should the
car begin to flip over. These are located beneath the rear
head restraints. And they are deployed in 150 milliseconds,
should vehicle angle sensors detect that a roll over is about
The 307 cc is equipped with two front airbags as well as
sidebars for head and chest protection. And dynamically, the
car comes with all the latest driver aids such as ABS braking,
emergency brake assistance which increases the rate of braking
in a panic situation, skid control and electronic brake force
The exterior is typically French in its understatement. There
are no extraneous frills, wings or styling lines. The fact
that bumpers, the wing mirrors and the side protection
moldings are in body colour adds to the chic effect of this
Giving a sense of presence are the very attractive
clear-inset, tear-dropped shaped headlights and the
striking LED taillights. The LED designation stands for Light
Emitting Diodes, and the tail lamps have 80 of these miniature
electronic lamps each contained in the little holes visible on
the surface of the tail lamp.
The benefit of LED tail lamps is that they are much brighter
than conventional taillights using bulbs thus increasing the
visibility of the car and the safety factor.
This top model, the 130 kW version, is distinguished by its
17-inch alloy wheels, running high performance 205 -50 series
tyres. The simple five-spoke design of the wheels plays a big
role in achieving the elegance that Peugeot was after with
The larger wheels and tyres also provide very good grip with a
degree of suppleness over bumps that is surprising for such
low profile tyres.
With a smallish capacity four-cylinder engine, performance is
only moderate for a car of this class. The 0-100 km/h sprint
is claimed at 10 seconds, which is about two and a half
seconds slower than the time achieved by the much lighter 206
GTi 180, which uses the same engine.
Top speed is good, though, rated at 225 km/h for this model,
thanks to that sleek shape.
Driving the 307 cc is satisfying, thanks to the
leather-covered steering wheel and the short-throw gear lever
which has a metal gear knob for a racy feel.
The steering has a lot of power assistance at low speeds, for
ease of parking. But it tightens up quickly for a good solid
feel for high-speed driving.
The brakes, too, have a sensitive feel, and being discs all
round they have plenty of stopping power.
Overall there is a quality feel to the 307 cc's interior, with
liberal use of finely-stitched leather and fairly tasteful
metal panelling affecting a slightly racy touch.
The rear seat space is reasonable, probably in line with the
Mercedes CLK in terms of leg and headroom, but large rear seat
passengers will not be ecstatic on longer trips. It is more a
car for a young family.
The boot space features a removable luggage protector for safe
folding of the roof, and with the roof down you don't have
space for too much overnight luggage.
With the top down, the steep rake on the windscreen provides
good wind protection. It is possible to conduct a conversation
easily at highway speeds with the top down, and there is not
much wind intrusion.
For very fast highway driving - faster than our speed limits
allow, a rear wind deflector screen is provided. This is to
prevent the reverse-tumbling effect of wind, created by the
vortex effect as the wind passes over the top of the
What happens is that instead of your hair streaming out
gracefully behind you at speed, your hair blows forward as the
wind tumbles back and hits you from behind.
With the top down the Peugeot 307 cc retains fair body
rigidity, but it is not as good as the class-leader in this
field, the BMW 330i cabriolet. Lowering the roof naturally
removes a lot of rigidity from the car's structure and there
is a degree of "scuttle shake" or body flexing on
the 307, although it is only noticeable on bumpy roads.
Those large doors also sound a bit on the clunky side when you
close them with a firm tug.
Overall it is a very elegant car, and although it could do
with a bit more giddyup, it is well-built. It received a
four-star rating in the European N-Cap safety test, which is
excellent for a cabriolet, or in this case, a coupe-cabriolet.
If top-down motoring is your bag, then power is not all that
important, because wind buffeting can get more than a little
uncomfortable above 120 km/h.