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MOTORNET: Makeover Madness French Style

Makeover Madness French Style

SCOOP MOTORNET with Karl Ferguson
Images by Neil Mackenzie -

Peugeot 307cc Cabriolet
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Peugeot, it would seem, are in the mood for makeovers. Not only has the 206 hatch range had a recent revitalisation with the arrival of the 407 sedan, estate and coupe, but now so has mid-range vehicle the 307.

It’s certainly been a popular little number and with revised styling, new cabins, some engine improvements and increased standard equipment, it is likely to have a new lease on life.

The range sports a number of models, so it’s a case of simply taking your pick from the entry level XS 1.6 litre petrol model retailing at $31,900 with manual transmission, to the top of the line 307cc cabriolet for a less modest $53,990.

Peugeot 307 5 Door Hatch
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The first thing you will likely notice about the 307 is how much it now resembles its big brother the 407. This is not a coincidence – the front end styling which includes a large grille, restyled headlights and spots, and a larger Peugeot badge, is now well in tune with the latest corporate styling. This is not a bad thing, as most will agree the 407 is a good looker, though it also means a 10mm addition to the nose to improve pedestrian safety, and does mean a pretty busy looking front end. New alloys help complete the picture.

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On the inside, the cabin gets some notable improvements as well. Take for example the new instrument panel which sports aluminium surrounds, and a broader range of colour schemes to choose from. On the equipment front, the majority of the models will now come with dual zone air-conditioning, an improved stereo, blue tooth capability and xenon headlights. The changes are subtle but somehow manage to help the 307 feel modern and contemporary again without losing any of the sense of style that most people will associate with Peugeot cabins.

Cabriolet Engine
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5 Door Engine
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Mechanically, the revisions are minimal. The two-litre petrol engine gets a power increase of three kilowatts (up to 103kW) and now sports variable valve timing to help improve performance. There’s a similar increase in torque figures.

I drove the 307 in two-litre hatchback, convertible and station wagon form and can attest that the performance from the revised engine is good if not spectacular. Perhaps the best performer is the standard five-door hatchback that carries less weight than its siblings. The transmission is enthusiastic and combined with the willing engine, most will find the performance more than adequate.

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The still sexy 307cc suffers most from weight gain but with sport mode selected can still turn in a decent performance. In fact, the engine revs so willingly its good fun to put the top down just to allow you and your passengers to better hear the engine with! Of course, cruising with the top down rather than outright speed is what it’s all about and in that respect, the 307 doesn’t disappoint. If you like a bit of attention on a warm summer’s day the convertible cc could be the car for you. Of course, if you’re not a blond, 5 10” super model with drop dead gorgeous looks then you, like me, may find the whole experience a little embarrassing. On the plus side, the brilliant split-folding hardtop roof can be erected quick smart – even when the car is moving albeit under 10km’s an hour – to help avoid any overtly self conscious situations.

But if the cc is a little too flamboyant for your tastes, don’t be put off. For sheer practicality, you could do a lot worse than the 307SW. For a station wagon, not only does it sport three rows of seats but it still manages to be handsome to boot (no pun intended). The multi adjustable seats are all usable and accessible and can be removed for load carrying duties. If you fancy a stylish wagon but don’t want anything as big as a Mondeo or Commodore, the SW with its extra row of seats makes a strong case.

Perhaps the model that will attract most attention though is the newly revised diesel released last year. With the aforementioned exterior and interior changes and Peugeot’s rapidly growing reputation in the diesel engine stakes, the 1.6 HDi could be the pick of the litter.

The 1.6 litre produces 80kW and 240Nm and at lower revs meaning more useful power and better performance. Even after a short stint behind the wheel, its clear these figures while impressive, only tell half the story.

There is no mistaking the clatter of the diesel beneath the bonnet, but performance is impressive. Expect good power delivery across the band and decent acceleration, not to mention quick starts at the traffic lights - not something many diesel Peugeots of past could claim. The claimed 0-100 km/h time of 11.2 seconds belies the perky nature of the power plant.

Click for big version

Ultimately, what will really endear this little Peugeot to punters though is its fuel economy. In my view, no amount of driving it will ever reduce the pleasant surprise of virtually continuous motoring on literally the smell of an oily rag. Peugeot claim the 307 uses just 6.0 litres/100 km in the city cycle, and a staggeringly modest 4.3 litres/100 km for the highway cycle. Although I wasn't able to properly verify those figures, in theory the 307's range (from its 60 litre tank) is comfortably in excess of 1200 kilometres.

How much, you ask? The sticker price for the 307 HDi diesel is $36,990 - or $1000 increase over its predecessor. That compares favourably to the Honda Civic hybrid and Toyota Prius, both of which offer similar fuel economy figures. No road user charges with hybrids of course...

The 307 range, always a classy European alternative to the more pedestrian Japanese hatches, has had new life breathed into it thanks to the recent upgrades. Not unlike a good French burgundy, it only gets better with age.


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