PEUGEOT HAS RELEASED its latest drop-top, the 308 CC, into the Australian market today - a car the French automaker describes as its most "evolved" convertible to date.
A four-seater hardtop coupe-cabriolet (hence the 'CC' designation), the 308 CC is the first topless Peugeot to be offered with a diesel engine in this country.
Peugeot's CC models have enjoyed reasonable showroom success in this market - the addition of a diesel-fueled option to the 308 CC should further broaden the appeal of the slinky and individual convertible.
"One in ten Peugeots sold in Australia is a Coupe Cabriolet," said Richard Grant, National Marketing Manager of Peugeot Australia.
"Considering that there are only two CC models [the other being the 207 CC], this shows just how much Australians have embraced Peugeot's CC range."
Will they embrace the 308 CC? A glance at the new car's external packaging certainly suggests they will, as the car combines all of the best elements of the 308 hatch's design with excellent proportions with the top down.
The side profile retains that typical boot-heavy look of Peugeot's previous 307 CC, but its appealing, individual and strangely attractive lines work whether the roof is up or down.
Up front, the 308 CC can be had with a choice of two efficient engines. The aforementioned diesel engine is a 2.0 litre unit that uses high-pressure fuel injection and a variable-geometry turbocharger to produce 100kW and 320Nm of torque.
For overtaking situations, an overboost feature unlocks an additional 20Nm when the driver stomps the accelerator.
The sole other engine choice is a 1.6 litre petrol unit, which puts out 110kW and 240Nm. Although it lacks the outright grunt of the bigger diesel, the revvy 1.6 can be optioned with either a six-speed manual or a four-speed auto, while the diesel's only transmission choice is a six-speed tiptronic automatic.
While not especially powerful, both engines bring big benefits in the fuel consumption department. The petrol manual drinks 7.5 litres per 100km (the auto consumes 8.1 litres over the same distance), while the diesel sips just 7.0l/100km.
Carbon emissions are also reasonable, with the petrol manual generating 177g/km and the diesel creating 185g/km.
Suspension hardware is simple, with a MacPherson strut arrangement up front and a torsion beam at the rear.
Damper valving and spring heights have been changed to give the 308 CC a sportier stance, while bushings and mounting hardware has been beefed up to cope with the added weight of the roof mechanism.
The all-metal roof might add a significant amount of kilos and cut boot volume in half when retracted, but it goes up and down at the touch of a button in just 20 seconds.
The removal of the roof hasn't harmed its crash performance either, with a headrest-mounted head airbag helping the 308 CC achieve a five-star Euro NCAP rating.
Comfort isn't compromised by the folding roof either. Interior space is better in virtually every dimension compared to the old 307 CC, and heated seats and Peugeot's new Airwave hot-air system (standard on the 308 CC S) helps keep the front passengers toasty, even in wintery climes.
The standard climate control system also recognises when the roof is up or retracted, and compensates to suit.
The 308 CC comes standard with six airbags, stability control, rear parking sensors, electric folding door mirrors, MP3 player connectivity, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear LED tail lights, and sports seats with cloth trim.
The up-spec 308 CC S gets all of the above, except with leather instead of cloth upholstery, 18-inch wheels instead of the 17s, electrically-adjustable seats, the Airwave system, front parking sensors and Xenon headlights.
The base 308 CC retails for $48,990 for the 1.6 petrol manual, $50,990 for the 1.6 petrol auto and $52,990 for the diesel auto.
The 308 CC S is available only in automatic guise, and costs $57,990 for the 1.6 petrol auto and $59,990 for the diesel. The 308 CC range is now available from Peugeot nationwide.