Business Travel Show Europe Kick Off, 23 February,
Global Travel Risk Summit Europe, May 2023,
3rd Annual Sustainable Business Travel Summit
O N T O U R: The Peugeot 307cc. A Convertible Winner
This week ”On Tour” takes on a motoring theme with contributions from Peugeot, Hertz and Europcar. It is all part of business travel.
The outstanding success of the Peugeot 206 cc (coupe convertible) since its launch in May 2001 (over 10,000 have been sold in the UK during the last 12 months, easily outselling such established sports cars as the Mazda MX5 and MGF) has made this week”s launch of its four-seater sister, the Peugeot 307 cc, a keenly awaited event. The 206 cc was based on the British built best selling 206 saloon, an outstanding 4/5-seater noted for its good handling qualities and smart look. ABTN was one of a select group of publications invited to test drive the new car in the South of France, a private jet whisking the press from Stansted to Toulon near Marseilles in just two hours. An impressive beginning for an impressive car.
The 307 cc builds on what has gone before and does it even better. Four full seats (only four), a new version of the show stopping and reliable electric roof, a decent size boot and much the same driving feel of the saloon from which it has been developed. Its British connection is this time its designer, Keith Ryder, an amiable Yorkshireman now established in Paris, and the owner of one of the great British sports cars of all time, a Healy 100/6, built 50 years ago.
Designed as part of the new and successful 307 range from its very concept the coupe convertible improves on its smaller sibling with an automatic roof locking system which means there are no latches protruding as the roof begins to lower. You don”t have to be stationery either. If it starts to rain when stuck in crawl the roof can still go up in 25 seconds providing you don”t exceed a 6 mph limit. The wrap around windscreen is enormous and the new car must be the world”s quietest at 100 mph with the roof down. At those speeds it is possible to speak at seemingly the normal level. A 500 mile test drive through some of the finest roads in Provence produced no sore throats, or even tiredness. This of course is true for the front seat passengers. For those at the back, whilst they have plenty of leg room, with the roof down it can be very windy. Go four handed to your holiday venue with the top in place. You will find plenty of room for your luggage and with the rear screen also massive there is plenty of natural light for those sitting in the back. When you arrive at your destination offload the luggage and enjoy the benefits of open air motoring.
The 307 cc comes in just three models and a very short list of extras. With the up-rated 180 hp version of the two litre 16-valve engine you gain 17” alloy wheels (as against 16”), half leather trim, electric folding door mirrors, a CD auto-changer and a rear parking aid. But that is it! The 138 hp edition comes either with a five speed manual gearbox or a ”Tiptronic” automatic box, which can be used semi-manually. The automatic is best described as leisurely in its performance taking 12.7 seconds to reach 60 mph but having a top speed of 130 mph. The manual version with the same rating is a good deal faster to 60 at 10.9 seconds with a similar maximum speed. The top model will take you up to 140 mph and gets to the 60 mph target in 10 seconds. Not enough to win the traffic light grand prix but very respectable.
All models come with four wheel disc brakes, an electronic stability programme (ESP) to counteract skidding, ABS and emergency brake assistance. The car is very well thought out from a general safety point of view enabling it to obtain a 4-star EuroNap classification even in the cabriolet mode. There are both front and side air bags and the front windscreen pillars form what is in effect a rollover bar. The head restraints include an electronic rollover detection unit which allows the actual section to raise itself to roughly the same height as the top of the windscreen if the car were to turn over, protecting the passengers.
Yes there are negative points. You will need a wide garage, the doors are very large indeed in order to offer easy access to the rear seats. The steering column is somewhat cluttered with controls for virtually everything is at your fingertips. And the 50-litre fuel tank is the same size as the smaller (and more economical) 206cc.
Available as an optional extra is a satellite navigation system whose large 7” colour screen sits on top of the dashboard, a much safer position than the central consol popular with most manufacturers. It includes a hands free phone and offers (presumably in UK versions too) a delightful French accented lady telling you to ”turn left in 100 metres”. Generally the interior finish is far higher than hitherto seen from Peugeot. There is no discernable scuttle shake, always the nemesis of large convertibles. Detail work, such as the rear seat passengers” window control, the boot release button in the ”0” of the 307 on the rear and the automatic rain sensor, demonstrate the thought and effort Peugeot have put into the new car. The styling is outstanding, the 307 catching the eye everywhere.
At around ”20,000 delivered (if you include the nav system and the reversing warning) the coupe convertible is a quantum leap from the basic 307 and comes in just below where Saab and Mercedes compete with far smaller number of sales. Peugeot may be a shade optimistic in forecasting annual sales of 8,500 here in the UK but they will not be far out with a car that looks a sure winner.
Basic price from ”18,300 on-the-road. 180 bhp version from ”20,900 on-the-road.
AND ON THE HIRE CAR FRONT
If you are coming to London and need a car for getting about or touring HERTZ have now available a limited number the delightful Ford StreetKA at its Heathrow, Gatwick, Victoria and Marble Arch locations. Strictly a two-seater, and built to the high standard that Ford now epitomises, the StreetKA is a real fun vehicle and a joy to drive. Great for a few days but perhaps not to live with. There is no room in the cabin for any storage at all (even the handbook is fitted to the rear bulkhead), but the boot is large enough to deposit enough soft bags for a weekend. The StreetKA is frugal on fuel. The hood, whilst manual, is very easy to use, but one negative point is that the rear screen is poor and limits the view. Sister company Mazda fit a much better system on the MX5. http://www.hertz.co.uk
EUROPCAR, the Volkswagen owned car hire company, is also expanding the services available to customers. At all its UK airport sites it is now offering the portable Keltec satellite navigation system for ”12.95 a day or ”60 for the week, money well spent if it saves you the aggravation of getting lost in an area that one has not travelled before. It is particularly useful in complex city areas. The system is very simple and accurate and comprises of a Compaq iPAQ pocket PC and a jacket that includes a GPS sensor which gives your position to within 6 metres. All very ”Star Wars” high tech. Attach it to one of the air vents on the consol, switch on, type in (or even write) your destination, and off you go. The microscreen is very clear and the driver is given an audible warning prior to a junction and when one gets there. The exact distance to the next turning off point is shows as well as that to the destination. It could not be easier. There is a ”divert” button allowing one to miss potential traffic jams and the system also holds information on the nearest petrol stations, hotels, restaurants and hospitals wherever you happen to be in the UK. http://www.europcar.comhttp://www.keltec.co.uk top