Peugeot 308 Convertible review
The Peugeot 308 CC trades some of the hatchback's space and practicality for open-air thrills
The Peugeot 308 CC is the French firm's entry into the compact-convertible market, rivalling the likes of the Renault Megane CC and Volksagen Golf Cabriolet. It uses an electrically-powered metal folding roof to give all-weather protection, and offers improved refinement over regular soft tops. That said, the extra weight and space required to store the complex system does hinder boot space and performance. It's not the most practical car in its class either, but the pretty cabin and smooth diesel engines make it an attractive proposition.
Our choice: Active 1.6 e-HDi 112
Recently refreshed, the Peugeot 308 CC looks great from the front, particularly with the roof stowed. However, the heavily raked windscreen and extended boot required to fit the complex folding mechanism can make it look awkward and ungainly from some angles. All models come well equipped, with even base-spec Access versions getting alloy wheels and chrome trim as standard. Inside you're greeted by a trio of air-vents above the centre console and, although the design is pretty, the busy layout is difficult to navigate. The small, hard to reach stereo controls and oversized steering wheel are ungainly, and none of the materials feel especially solid, especially lower down the cabin.
Reflecting its higher price tag, Peugeot only offers the 308 CC with its more powerful petrol and diesel engines. The weight penalty from the folding roof mechanism blunts performance though, and the entry 118bhp 1.6-litre petrol VTi feels especially sluggish. The turbocharged version is better but we'd opt for the e-HDi diesel, which has plenty of torque and is quiet and refined. The soft ride and light steering make it a good low-speed cruiser. There's noticeable body roll in tighter corners, and road surface will cause the ride to suffer.
Just like the hatch, the Peugeot 308 CC offers drivers real peace of mind in the event of a crash. Six airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, traction control and pop-up roll hoops that activate on impact all helped it to achieve the top five star rating from Euro NCAP. Reliability is less certain though, with some electrical problems reported on earlier models. The potential for problems is increased by the complex roof mechanism, and Peugeot hasn't fared well in our Driver Power satisfaction survey.
Handily, the metal roof can be stowed in around 20 seconds and can also be operated on the move, at speeds of up to 7.5mph. With the roof in place, boot space is actually better than on the standard hatch but, at 465-litres, it's around 25 short of the Renault Megane CC. That space shrinks to just 266-litres when the roof is folded, and rear access is impeded by the roof, leaving only a narrow slot to push luggage through. It's strictly a four-seater, and the lack of legroom in the back row of seats means they're really only suitable for occasional use.
As all versions come well equipped, the top spec versions are best avoided – they push the Peugeot's price dangerously close to more premium rivals from Audi and BMW, and are less efficient than their smaller-engined counterparts. The e-HDi is the cleanest model available, with official figures of 60.1mpg and 123g/km, while the flagship petrol GT version posts a fairly unspectacular 40.4mpg and 162g/km. Peugeot's servicing costs are reasonable, but the dealer network has a poor reputation for customer care. Insurance costs vary dramatically depending which model you go for.