The old 307 CC sold by the transporter load - 27,807 were shifted in total in Britain, over 400 more per year than its closest rival, the Megane CC. It was naff to drive and famously unreliable (how does 150th out of 152 in the Top Gear Survey '06 grab you?). But the company bought affordable folding hard tops to the masses with the earlier 206 CC and, seeing as us plucky Brits love cabrios, early adopters just couldn't resist Peugeot's efforts, despite the poor execution.
With that in mind, we approached this new 308 CC cautiously. But our cynicism quickly evaporated; there's a real feel of quality, from the way the door thunks reassuringly shut to the leather-lined dash on GT models.Other things impress too. Like airbags built into the headrests (a world first), which meet your head faster than regular airbags in a B-pillar. And there's a Merc-style ‘airscarf', which blows warm air around your neck to keep you toasty when the roof's down (none of the 308's close rivals have that). The entry-level car will cost £19,495, and although you can get a basic-spec Meganne CC, Focus CC and Astra Twin Top for less, you won't get as much standard kit thrown in.
It's properly refined too. Withthe roof up, it's easy to forget you're in a convertible. There's a whisper of wind noise, but the turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine was quiet on the smooth roads of our test route and tyre roar was non-existent.
Couple of problems, though. With the roof down, sitting up front, you still don't feel like you're in a drop-top - the windscreen sweeps right back over your head, so you have to crane your neck back to see the sky. But this is a typical coupe-cabriolet dilemma. A shorter screen means a longer roof, which is harder to fold into the boot. And more rear legroom means less space to store that roof, which leads to a portly bum in which to accommodate it when stowed. Put simply, folding hard tops are a packaging nightmare.
People in the back will enjoy the cabrio experience more, provided they're not lanky; legroom is tight (a six-footer would struggle to sit behind himself). But when the back seats are occupied, you can't use the optional wind-deflector, which means messy barnets all round.
CCs are always heavier than their hatchback equivalents (by 170kg in the 308's case), which can screw up the way they drive - the 307 CC was a wallowing pig of a car. Although the 308 CC is on largely the same chassis, it handles better, thanks to a wider track, new spring rates and a stiffened body to reduce flex. That said, there's no disguising its 1.5 tonnes when things speed up. But with a target market looking for poseability not performance, it doesn't have to feel that sporty.
Funny-looking thing, though, isn't it? Some people will love it - the sort of people who think snorty, pug-faced dogs are ‘cute'. That's the entire population of France, then. The rest of us will hate it. Either way, there's no denying it will make people look twice, and given there's nothing worse than not being talked about, that counts as A Good Thing.