Peugeot ploughs on

PEUGEOT’S 206CC was successful beyond the company’s most optimistic projections and its 207CC replacement aimed to continue its dominance of the small cabriolet market.

PEUGEOT’S 206CC was successful beyond the company’s most optimistic projections and its 207CC replacement aimed to continue its dominance of the small cabriolet market.

Steve Walker checks out this improved version.

The British have an irrational love of convertible cars. Just look at how many of them there are on the roads then at our average rainfall figures and you’ll have all the evidence you need of that.

Peugeot has tapped into this yearning for wind-in-the-hair travel more successfully than most manufacturers with its range of affordable folding hard-top models and today’s 207CC is aiming to fight off competition from a number of pretenders to its throne.

When launching the 207CC in 2007, Peugeot aimed to retain the basic ingredients of its 206CC predecessor but at the same time, improve virtually every aspect of this landmark car.

It did so, but the end result seemed a little clinical compared with more characterful rivals like MINI’s Convertible. Hence a series of styling revisions aimed at injecting a little street presence into an impressively designed package - and the model we look at here.

The 206CC from Peugeot can rightfully claim to have popularised the folding hard-top roof in the modern car market and the 207CC is the caretaker of that noble bloodline.

Today, folding metal roofs are everywhere but before the 206CC, if you wanted one you had to get a rather expensive Mercedes or dig way back into the annals of motoring history for one of the old classics that chanced its arm with such an arrangement.

By now, they’re certain to be rather more expensive than the Merc.

Keen drivers won’t thank the 206CC for its efforts in making complex overhead metalwork the preferred choice over lightweight canvas.

Fans of budget convertible cars, however, have taken the security and durability of the folding hard-top to heart.

You’d better like 1.6-litre engines because the 207CC has three of them and that’s as far as the choice goes.

At least there’s some decent variety within this outwardly samey line-up.

The entry-level petrol engine is a 120bhp normally-aspirated 1.6-litre designed in partnership with BMW no less.

This is the engine that will rack up most sales and the only one on offer with automatic transmission.

It’s also a variant of the next engine in the line-up, the 150bhp turbo 1.6, albeit shorn of the turbocharger.

Nevertheless it still looks quite punchy, delivering its maximum power at 6,000rpm and its peak torque figure of 163Nm at 4,250rpm.

The 150bhp turbocharged variant gets THP (turbo high pressure) branding and features a beefy peak torque figure of 244Nm from only 1,400rpm.

The twin scroll turbo and variable valve timing system combines with direct injection to offer a decent compromise between performance and fuel economy.

Finally, there’s a 1.6-litre HDi diesel with 110bhp and identical torque to the turbocharged petrol unit.

The extra weight of the 207CC’s roof mechanism blunts the performance of the car compared to 207 hatchback models using the same engines.

It’s still pleasantly nippy though, regardless of the engine choice, with even the diesel managing a 0-60mph sprint of under 11s.

The turbocharged petrol engine records an 8.6s sprint time and a 129mph top speed.

The 207CC is a capable cruiser but the absence of a fixed roof can be felt as the body flexes when cornered quickly.

This is hardly a disaster and Peugeot’s effort remains among the best supermini-based convertibles from a driver’s point of view. Engine refinement is also very good.

Peugeot has tweaked the look of today’s 207CC, toning down the sometimes controversial front end styling that has been rolled out across its model range in recent years.

The lines are better integrated around the nose but the main point of reference is that the fog lights which were mounted on the edge of the enormous grille are now housed in their own cutaway sections on either side.

At the rear, LED taillights are an upmarket touch but visually, the overall feel of the car isn’t dramatically different.

The styling is still markedly more cohesive with the roof down than when it’s up.

The standard 207 interior is carried over to the CC model. It’s not the most impressive in the supermini sector from a design or quality perspective but upgraded trim materials that only make it onto plusher 207 cars are standard on the CC and help spruce it up a bit.

There’s also a more modern control panel for the ventilation system on the latest cars.

A retractable metal roof makes packaging a nightmare and although the 207CC copes as well as any hard-top convertible of this size, rear legroom is still in short supply.

The boot is just 187 litres with the roof down but on the plus side, there’s ample space for front seat occupants and holding a button down for 25 seconds is enough to raise or lower the canopy.

Sport and GT trim levels are available, with the Sport getting 16” alloy wheels, air-conditioning, remote central locking and electric windows with full one-touch operation of the driver’s window.

There’s also ABS brakes with brakeforce distribution and brake assist.

For a premium of around £1,500, the GT model adds 17” alloy wheels, ESP stability control and a number of other features.