Driving is a Breeze.
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  1. #1
    XTC
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    Default Driving is a Breeze.

    From drive.com.au

    http://www.drive.com.au/editorial/article.aspx?id=9018

    - xTc -

    Driving is a breeze
    The Age
    Tuesday January 4 2005

    Looking for a bit of fresh air in a compact and affordable package? CAMERON McGAVIN puts four of the latest under the microscope.

    Ratings

    Mini Cabrio 4 stars (out of 5)
    Peugeot 307CC 3.5 stars
    Renault Megane Coupe-Cabriolet 3 stars
    Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet 2.5 stars

    Peugeot has been playing this game longer than most and rams home its expertise by offering two models, both with snazzy power-folding hard-top roofs.

    The 307CC fills the void left by the 306 cabrio of the 1990s. Much bigger than the cramped 206CC, it's a lot easier to live with, thanks to a roomy, stylish cabin, excellent front seats, generous equipment and a back seat that's not huge but about the best going in this segment. The roof folds into the boot electronically but eats up space.

    Steer away from the boulevards, however, and the 307CC falters. The top-level Sport's 130 kW, 2.0-litre four-cylinder lacks low-rev torque, needing a good dose of revs to produce its best, at which point it's entertaining enough. The five-speed manual shift is sloppy and the extra weight and the body's noticeable flex mean the 307CC isn't as sharp to drive as regular 307. The biggest shortcoming is value. At $49,990 for the base model - with a less-powerful 100 kW engine - it's a lot for fresh air.
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    Price: From $49,990.
    For: Svelte styling, slick roof, superb seats, usable back seat (just!), generously equipped.
    Against: Expensive, weight dulls performance and handling, sloppy gear change, engine lacks low-rev pulling power.


    Mini Cabrio

    Despite losing its roof, the Mini Cabrio still feels taut and solid. The original Mini was never sold as a soft-top, but a cabrio version of the new BMW-built version was almost always going to happen. Now it's finally here.

    And Mini isn't messing around. The base Cooper Cabrio opens the account at a sharp $35,900, or 10 grand or so below most rivals. You get all the Cooper features plus a handy power fabric roof with a section that slides back 400 mm as a sunroof, although it gets a bit noisy at highway speed.


    Like the hard-top, the Cabrio is an engaging drive. Despite the loss of its roof, it still feels taut and solid (though a few rattles were apparent on our test car) and the handling is sharp. Back-seat and boot space are still tight but rather less of an issue for a fashion accessory like this than the hatch.

    The base 85 kW 1.6-litre four-cylinder's average performance can be remedied by choosing the 125 kW Cooper S ($44,900), while the 154 kW Works ($54,750) should have plenty of urge.

    Price: From $35,900.
    For: Sharp pricing, cheeky styling, amusing handling, handy roof, well built, performance potential.
    Against: Tight back seat and boot, average performance of base model, some rattles and squeaks.


    Renault Megane Coupe-Cabriolet

    Renault's outgoing Megane cabrio was an ageing design but popular here nonetheless. Now an all-new model has arrived flaunting a unique feature - a power-folding glass roof.

    But the Megane has an eerily familiar feel. Indeed, it's almost identical in concept to the 307CC, being a four-seat cabrio based on a 2.0-litre hatch with a folding metal roof. We say metal because that's what it really is, with a glass panel substituting for the usual thin metal skin on top. Even the look is very similar, though the big-bummed Megane is perhaps less successful in its transition from shopping trolley to cruiser.

    But while the Megane's price and specification keep the Pug honest, it trips up on the road. The 98 kW 2.0-litre is a charmer but the sizeable kerb weight means performance isn't sparkling. Throw in significant body flex, a tight back seat and the glass roof's tendency to make the cabin a sweaty greenhouse in summer (despite UV-blocking glass and a blind) and the Megane falls short.

    Price: From $47,990.
    For: Cheaper than a 307CC, gee-whiz glass roof, well equipped.
    Against: Scuttle shake, gets hot under glass roof, expensive, awkward styling, tight back seat.


    Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet

    The cabrio version of VW's New Beetle is a surprise in that it's a soft-top that actually works better than the car it's based on.

    The Beetle has never been a favourite here at Drive for its flawed cabin packaging, but the Cabriolet comes much closer to fulfilling its task. Not only has the removal of the roof (replaced by a power-folding fabric one that, just like the old Beetle, sits over the back of the car when retracted) cleaned up the styling, there's now some real headroom in the back. Well, at least with the top down. It's also a very well-thought-out conversion, with minimal body flex over undulating surfaces. Good ride quality and a cabin that's roomy, funky-looking and very well built mean the VW passes the cruise test with honour.

    There's not much substance beneath the style, however. The ageing 85 kW, 2.0-litre four-cylinder lacks performance and the handling is more mushy than inspiring. Standard equipment is good but not outstanding for $46,990.

    Price: From $46,990.
    For: Looks better than the hardtop, slick roof, funky and well-built cabin, comfy ride, well equipped.
    Against: Expensive, dubious performance, mushy handling.
    You're not fooling everyone, or did you forget? .......




    '02 Peugeot 206 GTi / '07 VW Golf GTI
    Now this is a .sig
    AF'd in PER, MEL, SYD, ADL, CBR

  2. #2
    Tadpole rr307cc's Avatar
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    My 307CC experience is much more positive than that!
    I have the 100kw engine, and having driven both I think it is the better choice. Below 4 - 5,000 rpm it is probably smoother and easier to live with. The only time I find it lacking power is if I lose revs to below 2,500 on a hill and then it can be a bit embarassing. Gear change is fine so this is not a problem.

    Handling and ride is great in my opinion. Comfort (leather trim) and equipment levels are great. Body flex is minimal - in fact most reviews confirm that.

    Perhaps I got a good-un and they drove a lemon!

    Have to say I love it - most enjoyable car owned in 40+ years of motoring.

    ps First Frog since I parted with my Renault 10 in the early seventies.

  3. #3
    XTC
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    Quote Originally Posted by rr307cc
    My 307CC experience is much more positive than that!
    It's an Aussie review ... if the Astra Coupe was in the mix, there would be no doubt who'd get 5 stars .... Enjoy your car.

    - xTc -
    You're not fooling everyone, or did you forget? .......




    '02 Peugeot 206 GTi / '07 VW Golf GTI
    Now this is a .sig
    AF'd in PER, MEL, SYD, ADL, CBR

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