The Pug for sun-lovers
- 2009 Peugeot 308CC; 2.0-litre, four cylinder, diesel, six speed automatic; coupe/cabriolet - $52,990*
- Leather seats with integrated heating, AirWave and windstop - $4,100
You can imagine a 308CC driver pulling into their local drive-thru coffee shop for a skinny latte before a big day at the office. The barista hands over a steaming take away cup and the driver takes it and places it into the...wait a minute. Where are they going to put the scalding container? Unfortunately for the driver, nowhere. Yes, there's not one cupholder in the entire car.
We rang Peugeot for an explanation. "Yeah, it's a bit of a pain, we know", said Peugeot's marketing manager. "You can put two cups next to each other under the console armrest. There's enough space, and they sort of hold each other in place." Hmmmm. Not exactly the greatest fix. So, you either have to always bring a friend, or buy two cups.
Fortunately, the rest of the interior fares better. Stylish charcoal metallic trim, textured soft plastics, beautifully sculpted seats - the harmonisation of materials is admirable. The chrome rings bordering the white intruments also imbue a sense of class. Interestingly, this is one of the few drop-tops with an interior light for both front passengers and rear, with the second light affixed to the roof-lining of the rear folding section. The space is also excellent, with a few compromises.
If you slide the front seats forward enough, rear passengers can be quite comfortable, while the driver will have to bend their legs and arms a tad more than usual but without feeling squeezed. For smaller drivers it'll be natural anyway. It means you won't have to leave friends behind for a countryside jaunt. Just make sure at least one of them also buys a coffee.
An aside - if you're looking at the seats above and wondering why there's no AirWave system in the headrests, it's because we were supplied a pre-Australian spec car. If you order this car with leather seats, you now also get the AirWave, which casts warm air over your neck while you're driving; perfect on cool nights with the top down.
The driver's seat does slope forward a little too much, without any angle adjustment. You tend to slide forward, or feel like your thighs are floating due to the shortish squab. Thankfully the steering wheel is height and reach adjustable which helps you to find a somewhat comfy driving position. There's little in the way of true feel, though the weighting is reasonably satisfying.
It does turn in and handle pretty well, like its 308 brethren, which means that just like its siblings, it has a very firm ride. Perhaps overly so, considering the demographic this car's aimed at. Maybe it's a good thing there's no cupholders after all - the drinks would be upended by the quick vertical oscillation. Strong brakes round out a dynamically decent package. But is it the kind of car you're going to be punting into corners?
What's nice is the seat heaters and climate control, which cocoons you in warmth while the cool breeze of outside air skims over the top. That's when convertibles make sense. However they don't make sense when you don't get a feeling of being exposed to the elements.
When sitting, looking forward, the angle of the windscreen is so steep that your vertical peripheral vision is blocked by the frame of the screen. If it was further away, you'd feel less enclosed, and the view less inhibited. It's a styling issue, but one that helps the wind movement in the cabin to be contained.
With the roof up, though, it's impressively quiet inside. We experienced the subdued noise, even when driving next to a semi-trailer, which would aurally intrude in other convertibles.
Under the bonnet, things are much more satisfying. The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel mill is modest in its outputs - 100kW and 320Nm - but is so smooth and relaxed it's a perfect fit for a cruisy car like a convertible. Sure, some may argue that the diesel rattle doesn't fit in with top-down motoring, but with the Aisin six-speed auto always keeping the motor on the boil, it makes for effortless torquey performance without having to rev its lungs out - perfect for the lifestyle bent.
There's a predictable 2000rpm powerband from two to four grand, and good economy (7L/100km), although the extra weight penalty (180kgs) explains why it uses more diesel than its hatch sibling (5.5L/100km).
The 308CC is perfect for someone going for a unique looking hard-top convertible, and wants the option of a turbo-charged petrol version, or a diesel engine. It's a relaxed drive, a nice, cruisy, easy-going experience. The problem is, the unique looks are the only thing it's got going for it. Volkswagen's Eos, for example, has a better ride, uses less fuel, expels less CO2, and is cheaper. Plus, for the engineers among us, its five-piece conversion is a whole lot more impressive to watch than the two-piece of the 308CC.
There are plenty of convertible options in the 308CC's price bracket, so it would be prudent to take a good look around and see what you like best. If you're wanting a styling standout, then the Pug will make you feel snug.
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