Peugeot 207 CC

When it comes to folding metal roof convertibles, the 207 CC is a winner

When it comes to folding metal roof convertibles, Peugeot has a huge following in the UK. And there's no doubt the 207 CC is another winner. It's prettier than its predecessor, has an even more usable hood and a higher quality interior, plus it's surprisingly practical, too. However, some of the build issues that plagued the 206 CC remain, and we're not very impressed by the diesel or the price rises. Even so, it's still destined to go straight to the top of the sales charts.

It's the car that brought the folding metal roof to the people, kick-starting a trend for affordable drop-tops boasting Mercedes SL-style technology for a quarter of the price.

Looking back, it seems obvious the 206 CC was destined to be a hit. But even Peugeot was surprised by its success. The French firm expected only niche sales, not for it to become the UK's most popular convertible.

So can its replacement, the 207 CC, perform the same trick in a market that is now far more competitive? The arrival of the all-new car hasn't come a moment too soon. Based on the same platform as the 207 hatchback, it sets out to answer the criticisms of its predecessor, with more emphasis on quality. Peugeot predicts even higher sales as a result, but with rivals such as Mitsubishi's Colt CC, Nissan's Micra C+C and Vauxhall's Tigra, competition is fierce.

Emphasising its importance to the Peugeot range, the 207 CC now features a roof which is designed and built in-house. It's totally automatic - there's no need to release any catches - and raises or lowers in 25 seconds, something you can do at speeds of up to 6mph.

The looks have grown up, too. Gone is the fussiness of the 206 CC, with its awkward bootlid slats, and in comes a chunkier, sportier design with a rakish windscreen, chiselled flanks and an athletic look, helped by a neatly clipped tail. Inside, there is plenty of space for those in the front, and a better driving position thanks to a lowered seat and reach/rake adjustable steering wheel. Qual-ity and design have also improved with a soft-feel facia which can be clad in optional leather.

As for luggage room, the rear seats are best used for squashy bags, but the boot is spacious at 449 litres (roof up) and 187 litres (roof down). That makes it arguably more practical than BMW's new 3-Series cabrio.

It's not as well built, though, and some hangovers from the 206 CC remain. The steering column still ro-tates against your foot, the five-speed gearbox feels imprecise and although rigidity has been greatly improved, there's some shake through the windscreen over bumps.

What's more, the roof on our test car failed to close twice when it was parked on a slope. Strengthening of the chassis has also seen the 207 CC put on around 200kg, which has implications for the performance. Of the three 1.6-litre engines available - 120bhp petrol (expected to be the best-seller), 150bhp petrol turbo and 110bhp turbodiesel - we could only test the latter two.

And we'd advise against the oil-burner, which feels strained despite its 240Nm of torque. It's also noisy (roof down) and nose-heavy, with vague steering. The 150bhp petrol is far livelier (0-62mph in 8.6 seconds), more refined and offering purer steering and snappier direction changes.

Both cars ride well, though, and with the hood up, they're quiet and comfortable places to spend time. The kit count is high, too, with base Sport-trimmed models coming with the electric roof, air-con and 16-inch alloy wheels as standard. The GT adds climate control, white dash dials and an MP3-compatible CD stereo.

Prices have risen by around £650 model-for-model, though, and our range-topping test car weighed in at a hefty £17,095. Is the 207 CC still the class leader? Well, it's not perfect, but quality is much improved and it looks great. And for those reasons alone, there's no more desirable CC model on the market.

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