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Peugeot 206cc


Chic? Certainly. Cheeky? Undoubtedly. Cute? Oh yes.

And Peugeot's nifty little 206 cc (coupe/convertible) is just coming into its own as summer sun pushes away the gloom of winter.

The cc is a hardtop convertible whose roof folds away and self-stows in the boot.

It's high fashion personified and just the thing for smart young - and, I guess, not so young - things to be seen in around town.

With the top down it's a Riviera type of car, a perfect companion for a sunny day drive around waterfront roads.

With the top up it's a cosy car for two (there are nicely sculpted rear seats but no legroom to speak of) with the feeling of security and protection from the elements that you just don't get in a soft-top convertible no matter how good and luxurious the hood may be.

The retractable roof works brilliantly. You first undo levers at the front of the roof (there's a lever/catch on each side of the sharply raked windscreen). Then you hold a switch lever on the console. The door and three quarter windows wind down and the bootlid opens, the roof lifts and joins the glass rear window on the journey down into the boot. Once they're stowed, the bootlid shuts.

It's quick, it's easy and it's all accomplished while you remain seated. It's all a far cry from the days of grappling with collapsible tubular frames and wrestling to get the soft top over the frame and firmly located on the windscreen lip.

Raising the roof, of course, follows the same procedure in reverse order. With the roof down you can wind the windows back up to provide a bit more protection from the wind.

There are two 206 cc variants - a 2.0-litre manual and a 1.6-litre automatic - and they sell for the same price, $41,990. The only option is leather trim (as on the test car) which costs $3000.

The test 206 cc was an automatic 1600. The motor produces a perky 80kW at 5750rpm and 147Nm of peak torque.

The 2.0-litre delivers 100kW and 190Nm.

The 1600 endows the car with brisk performance and it will handle open road touring at good pace. It wasn't unduly bothered by steep hills and the firmly-sprung chassis gave it kart-like handling.

It turns-in to corners directly and rounds them flatly. There's a bit of bump-thump from the road and the relatively-stiff suspension transmits bumps to the cabin.

There's some noise from the roof catches as the roof moves slightly over bigger bumps taken at speed.

The seats are comfortable and provide good lateral support.

The 1600 rides on 15-inch diameter alloys and 185/55 tyres (the 2.0-litre is on 16-inchers and 205/45 tyres). Front shock absorbers are valved differently on the two versions to take into account engine weight and performance capabilities. The alloy wheels look smart and the tyres provide good grip.

We were less impressed by the four-speed automatic gearbox which uses "fuzzy logic" technology.

If you don't get the amount of throttle opening just right - and we often didn't - the shifts were less than smooth. And the downshifts as the car moved down the box for slow corners or when it came to a stop were a little too noticeable.

We just found the gearbox fussy, especially around town (it's better at open road speeds) and felt it detracted from the car's massive fun factor.

If we were making the choice we'd go for the manual gearbox which the cc shares with the well-regarded 206 GTi.

Legroom and headroom is good, as is visibility to the rear. The windscreen pillars, though, are substantial and can cause blind spots in some corners.

The luggage boot will carry a useful 410 litres with the roof up and 175 litres with the roof folded and stowed (the luggage fits under a station wagon-like blind beneath the folded roof).

Standard equipment levels are good. You get highly-effective automatic air-conditioning; driver's and passenger's front airbags; ABS anti-skid braking with electronic brake force distribution; engine immobiliser; central door-locking; power windows; a four-speaker Compact Disc sound system; front and rear foglights; aluminium fuel filler cap; leather-wrapped steering wheel; electrically-adjustable heated exterior mirrors, and side impact beams in the doors.

We particularly liked the white-faced instruments and their easy-to-read layout.

The 206 cc is loads of fun and a perfect roof-down summer cruiser that has the added advantage of a hardtop for wet winters.

It's nimble, it's quick enough and it's easy to drive with excellent brakes, crisp steering and plenty of roadholding.

Our only quibble was the fuzzy logic automatic gearbox.

It was a car that we really wanted to like, and we're sure that with the manual gearbox we'd fall in love with this chic, cheeky and cute convertible.

AutoPoint road test team.

Auto Trader New Zealand