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It's been a tough month. I was involved in a traffic collision which left me dazed but unhurt but my company workhouse, the Ford CMAX, took a bit more than superficial damage and is in intensive care for six weeks.
The leasing company quickly organised a hire car for me, specifying a four door car with good boot space, so you can imagine my surprise when I arrived at the garage and was given the keys to the Peugeot 308CC which is a two door car with very little space either inside or in the boot.
I had the task of transferring all my tools and equipment from the wreck to the shiny sporty looking sports car.
The first problem was getting all my stuff in. The contents of the CMAX boot filled not only the boot of the Peugeot but also the rather tiny back seat and the passenger seat.
End of the bad news. I got in and adjusted the seat. It felt very secure and comfortable and, 4,000 miles later, I have not had even the suggestion of backache. Turn the key and you will hear the super-smooth of a six cylinder DOHC engine that purrs like a kitten, which just goes to show how wrong you can be, as it is actually propelled by one of Peugeot's superb four cylinder diesel lumps, that delivers astonishing power whilst sipping frugally at Tesco's finest premium diesel, returning on average 48.2 MPG.
I left Southampton and headed west on the M27, where the slightly effeminate beast revealed its first surprise. As I reached for the wipers to flick away a light drizzle, the car appeared to read my mind and wiped the screen without any help from me. This car has automatic everything, the wipers, headlights, even the climate control only asks for a temperature before leaving me alone. If only it would do the actual driving I could take a nap on my way to a call.
The seats are Rocarro-style sports seats, with a fluid back support, which applies extra support on the sides of your back as you turn corners. It makes for a very comfortable drive.
I was glad of the front wheel drive through the recent inclement weather, as usual those poor deluded fools driving their rear wheel driven BMWs were getting nowhere on the ice but that serves them right.
The six speed gear box means that the car is almost inaudible at legal motorway speeds and still has astonishing acceleration. Cruise control helps to keep you from the hazard of speed creep, when you gradually speed up on a main road until you find yourself doing ridiculous speeds if you aren't careful.
Even though the weather has been terrible I had to try it with the roof down, a small button on the driver door armrest sets the roof mechanism in motion. The front of the boot lid opens, the roof pops up then slides backwards and down into the boot opening. Suddenly the car feels a lot larger and one heck of a lot colder.
It is a total delight to drive, handling corners like a dream but I have my reservations.
Firstly, rear visibility is poor. The high boot and small rear windows give a poor view and the lack of a rear wiper is noticeable. As with a lot of two door cars, the doors are very long and aren't easy to open in tight parking spaces.
If those drawbacks aren't a problem for you then this car is well worth a look. with the engine running and the windows open it can still be mistaken for a very smooth petrol engine, the performance is very good, especially when you consider it is only a 1.6 litre unit.
This is a car for a single person or a couple. The rear seat really can't be used by anyone except perhaps for a double leg amputee, as even with the driving seat set for my short legs there is barely enough room to get your hand between the back of the front seat and the front of the back seat. This is a great fun car but not, sady, much of a workhorse, which is what I need. It has been fun but life will be a bit more organised, if less exciting, when the Ford Dullsville returns next week. Ah well, time for one more spin along the A351 to Corfe Castle.