Philip Hedderman reviews the Peugeot 308cc

Bloody typical. The country is being battered by the tail end of hurricane Tomas with incessant, driving rain and 100kmh gales and I’m testing a cabriolet.
It’s not all doom and gloom though – this is no ordinary cabrio.
No sir.
It’s one of the best I’ve driven and even more surprising, it’s not German.
The fabulous creation you see before you is the Peugeot 308cc and she is as sleek and sexy inside as it is outside.

If you thought French chic was an overpriced handbag with a funny logo or paying eight quid for rancid glass of ‘Vin de table’ in a Parisian cafe then you’re very much mistaken.
Nope. Chic has four wheels and a metal roof.
This four-seater hard top proves what Marie Antoinette couldn’t – that in these very hard times you can have your cake (or cheese in our case) and actually eat it.
Now I know the vast majority of motorist wouldn’t even consider a cabrio and then reasons are there for all to see. All you have to do is pull back the curtains.
It’s bucketing out of the heavens …. but then again what do you expect – it’s as cold and miserable as the middle of August?

But what if I told you that unlike most topless models, it’s quite clever. It has enough room for a small family, is practical, and can ease you through the hideous gridlock we’ve all become immune to in comfort and style.
The Gallic charm flows through the cabin and the finish is second to none.
From the mixture of golf ball-dimpled, matt dash, trimmed in shiny piano black and smatterings of chrome including rally-type pedals – it has luxury/sport stamped all over it.
The luxury comes in the guise of sumptuous leather bucket seats which are electrically adjustable and heated in the rear upper back and even has a tiny in-built fan which wafts warm air onto the back of your neck as you drive.
Suddenly the single digit reading on the outside temperature gauge doesn’t seem to daunting.
A mere click of a button and within 20 seconds the roof
is gobbled up and stowed away safely in the boot.
The feeling of freedom is remarkable as is the cold and is only overcome by the numbness engulfing the top of my head and slowly moving down the side of my face.
My nose begins to run.
Minutes later it’s raging like a river and I look like a joyriding criminal who has just been pepper sprayed.
My face is a lighter shade of navy and my teeth are chattering like joke shop dentures.
But through all the pain I afford myself a wry smile.
I’ve overcome the fear of being labelled a big girl’s blouse by neighbours and friends, but most of all, I’ve had a bloody ball.
Any car that can lift your spirits in these horrid times deserves to be held in high regard and it’s found a special place in my heart.
It is that feel-good factor which is forgiving of one or two little sins.
Firstly like all of its peers there is zero storage space as the boot is the compartment where the roof resides on sunny days.
Even when the sun goes down and the lid goes up, you’d be hard pressed getting a couple of bags of groceries in there.
Secondly the doors are absolutely gargantuan in length and weigh a ton.
You’d need to be a bit of a contortionist to climb in and out especially in shopping centre car parks which are tight at the best of times.
That said, the drive, handling and economy will convince you this is the open top for you.
Having four seats is a real bonus as is the absence of hard choppy suspension which are the main stay of most soft top coupes.

The 112bhp 1.6 litre turbo diesel power plant won’t set the world on fire, taking 12 seconds to hit 100kmh and a top end of 198kmh is ample.
The flip side of the coin is the economy which is sure to appeal to us all.
Because the omissions are so low at 138g/km it means it can average almost 53mpg and will cost an incredible €156 a year to tax.
The week I spent with her saw an extra 850kms notch up on the clock before a refill – amazing considering a third of that was around the city.
So it may be pretty frugal but it ain’t cheap and you won’t see much change out of €33,000, but then again …. have you priced the Coco Chanel bag?
Nope. Me neither!