Peugeot 307 CC
Getting the sun on your back has never been easier. More of us than ever are buying holiday homes in warmer climes and commuting to them courtesy of low-cost airlines. But is life in the sun really all it's cracked up to be? What happens when you fancy a curry at your local Indian, or crave your thrice weekly fix of Coronation Street? And do you really need all the hassle of sticky departure lounges and death-trap rental cars?
Getting the sun on your back has never been easier. More of us than ever are buying holiday homes in warmer climes and commuting to them courtesy of low-cost airlines. But is life in the sun really all it's cracked up to be? What happens when you fancy a curry at your local Indian, or crave your thrice weekly fix of Coronation Street? And do you really need all the hassle of sticky departure lounges and death-trap rental cars? I'd rather blow the money on a soft-top and stay in good old Blighty for the summer. That way, I can enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of Britain without worrying about Spanish plumbing and shops that have four-hour lunch breaks. Trouble is, which cabriolet do you choose? Hardly a week goes by without a major manufacturer adding a drop-top to their range, swelling the number of mid-price convertibles available to record numbers. Over the course of the next six months we will be reporting on Peugeot's latest offering in this sector of the market - the 307 CC. Having arrived in snowy January, our car has survived some awful winter weather, and we're now looking forward to using it regularly in open-air form. However, our run of Peugeot bad luck shows no sign of leaving us. Our last long-termer - a 206 CC - hit a dog that ran out from behind a hedge. Although the careless hound survived with barely a scratch, the 206 was left in a sorry state. This time it was a pizza delivery moped that inflicted the damage. Going for a gap in traffic that was never there in the first place, scooter and rider thumped into the passenger side of the 307, sticking a sizeable dent in the panel and delaying someone's 12-inch with pepperoni indefinitely. Fortunately, things have calmed down since then and I've been able to get to know the 307. Although colleagues have picked fault with the amount of space in the rear, they're no worse than any of its rivals. And as long as you don't plan to use your CC as a regular four-seater - and slide the front passenger seat forward - it's surprisingly roomy. I've carried two passengers on a number of occasions and not heard a peep out of them. Frustratingly, I haven't had much chance to sample the 307's open-air charms. On the days that I've had the Peugeot's keys, the weather has either rained or snowed. However, on the few occasions I have been able to go topless, I've been impressed with the roof mechanism. I love the fact that you don't have to fiddle with clips or brackets, and that the entire operation is completed in a matter of seconds. That said, I'll reserve final judgement until the summer, when all those motors and levers will get a proper workout. Having been stuck with a part-folded roof on our 206 CC, it will take a little time before I fully trust the 307's system. I've also been really impressed by how light and airy the cabin is. We opted for pale grey leather and it really does make all the difference. Not only does it create an upmarket feel, it also gives the feeling of space. A neat trick. Downsides? Well, the CC isn't perfect, and drivers with long arms have complained the roof button is in such a position that it can be activated when changing gear. And the indicators still need a solid shove to switch on - a problem that affects all 307s. Personally, I can live with these flaws. As long as the roof behaves as it should for the next five months, the CC's pros will always outweigh its cons. Could be another summer to remember.