Peugeot 308 CC 1.6 Turbo Sport Coupe Cabriolet, Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet 1.4 TSI (DSG) Review
The hard or soft question

Story and photos by Raymond Lai
8 Jan 2012
 

Are hardtop coupe-cabriolets really better than traditional soft-top convertibles? We pit two of the latest mid-range four-seater convertible models, one with a soft top and the other a hardtop, against each other.

Introduction, styling

More often than not, marketing men seem to have more say than engineers and designers at car companies these days. When developing a convertible model for example, I’m pretty sure that the designers and engineers prefer a traditional fabric roof system as this is less complex, lighter and is better for packaging but the marketing boffins might object in favour of a more popular but more complex folding metal hard top. This situation probably happened at Volkswagen when developing the convertible version of the Mk 5 Golf, the Eos.

With the Mk 6 Golf though, the marketing men at Volkswagen seemed to have convinced themselves that there is a gap that a simpler and more inexpensive convertible version of the Golf could fill below the more sophisticated Eos. The result is the Golf Cabriolet – simpler and more affordable meant a cloth roof and hence there was not to be a folding hardtop design for the topless Golf.

 Over at Peugeot, the French were keen to emphasize on the fact that it was their brand that first invented the folding metal hardtop design way back in the 1930s and hence, stuck to the folding metal hardtop design for their topless models, one of which is the recently facelifted 308CC. The 308CC and the Golf Cabriolet might have different roof concepts but they are both in the Cat A COE classification and are genuine four-seater convertibles and so it’ll be interesting how they fare against each other.

The 308CC was introduced just over three years ago as a replacement to the 307CC. The latest, updated model features Peugeot’s latest corporate nose that was first seen on the 508 and 5008 models. The nose features a less gaping centre intake on the bumper, boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights surrounding the fog lamps, darkened headlamps as well as the latest iteration of the brand’s Lion emblem. The nose does look more contemporary than before but the rest of the styling has started to look aged, especially at the rear where the designers haven’t done very well in hiding the 308CC’s obvious rump. 

The topless Golf on the other hand, has a timeless look to its styling. The topless model shares its front end with the hatch models but all is different aft of the front wings – the A-pillars are more steeply raked and thanks to a compact canvas top rather than a folding metal hardtop, the topless Golf has a pert and compact rear end that is rather attractive to say the least and is a contrast to the 308CC’s heavy and clumsy rear end styling. Moreover, the topless Golf’s overall styling is well proportioned with the top up or down. There’s a certain classless appeal to its elegant styling as well.

The Golf’s multi-layered roof is a highly efficient one – press down the lever next to the parking brake and the canvas top folds away flush into the body work behind the rear seats in just 9 seconds while closing it will take 11 seconds. The clever design means there’s no need for an additional tonneau cover when the top is retracted. Like Audi’s cabriolet models, the roof can be operated while on the move at low speeds of up to 30km/h, a luxury that the hardtop Peugeot makes do without. Unlike early generation Golf Cabriolets, the new model makes do without the rollover hoop that characterizes the early cars as looking like picnic baskets. This is thanks to the rollover protection system that automatically deploys from behind the rear seats in the event of a rollover, a technology the Golf shares with the Eos.

The Peugeot’s roof is electrically operated with just a press of a button situated next to the handbrake. It takes just 20 seconds (an eternity when compared to the Golf’s quick folding mechanism) for the hydraulics and electrics to fold and stow away the two-piece roof into the boot to transform the 308CC from a coupe to cabriolet and vice versa. The hardtop design not only enhances security but also means that in principle, the cabin will suffer less from outside noise when compared to a model with a soft canvas top like the Golf. The Golf’s roof does such a good job of keeping the cabin away from outside noise that it is almost as quiet as in the hardtop Pug while on the move.


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Engine

Engine Capacity 1598cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10:1
Bore x Stroke (77 x 85.8)mm
Power 156bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 240Nm @ 1600rpm
Power to Weight 112.9 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 9.5s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 215 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 17.9 km/L
Drag Coefficient 0.300

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 6 -speed Auto Tiptronic
Drive Type FF
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type Cabriolet
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4440 x 1821 x 1591) mm
Wheelbase 2608 mm
Turning Circle 10.6 metres
Kerb Weight 1382 kg
Boot Capacity 430 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 60 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs

Engine

Engine Capacity 1390cc TurbochargedSupercharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10:1
Bore x Stroke (76,5 x 75,6)mm
Power 160bhp @ 5800rpm
Torque 240Nm @ 1500rpm
Power to Weight 106.7 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 8.4s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 216 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 15.9 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 7 -speed DSG
Drive Type FF
Steering Hydraulic

Measurements

Body Type Cabriolet
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4246 x 1782 x 1423) mm
Wheelbase 2578 mm
Turning Circle 10.9 metres
Kerb Weight 1499 kg
Boot Capacity 250 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 55 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs