Based on the recently-launched 306 model family hatchback, the stylish cabriolet was based on the front wheel drive chassis. Praised throughout its years in production for its handling, the 306 model range featured MacPherson struts at the front and trailing arm/torsion bar rear suspension. Also at the rear end is a passive rear-wheel steer system, which works on the principle of bush deflection under cornering loads. This gives improved turn-in and stability without the weight of a fully controlled electro-mechanical system. Anti-roll bars are fitted to the front and back.
The 306 Cabriolet was designed by the historic design-house Pininfarina of Italy, near-exclusive designers of modern Ferraris and a long-standing parter to Peugeot. However, not only did Pininfirina design the 306's great lines, it also produced it based on parts shipped-in from France.
According to a press-release by Pininfirina, in September 2000, Peugeot asked that Pininfirina do the mechanicals as well. Therefore it can be assumed that all cars manufactured from 1994 to 2000 had complete engine and suspension assemblies produced by Peugeot and bolted into place in Italy. Thereafter, Pininfirina has to undertake more assembly tasks such as connecting-up a base engine, gearbox, suspension assembly, etc.
Parts that are likely to have been sourced and assembled directly by Pininfirina through the who production history of the car include the unique body panels (basically, everything back from and including the A-pillars), roof assembly, rear seating, rear lights and seals. It can also be expected that even though the 306 Cabriolet is based on its hatchback relatives, Pininfirina undertook all Cabriolet strengthening work such as the large bear bulkhead behind the rear seats.
Peugeot 306 Cabrio Phase 1
Throughout its Phase 1 production run - which can be distinguished by a central slat in the grille - the Cabriolet was similar to XSi hatchback in specification:
Single engine option: 2.0 litre, 8 valve, multi-point injected, 123bhp @ 5750rpm, 4 cylinder
5 speed manual transmission or 4 speed automatic
Front ventilated disc brakes
Rear disc brakes
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
Power Assisted Steering (PAS)
Powered electro/hydraulic hood mechanism
Electric windows front/rear
Electric, heated mirrors
Velour seat material
Sports seats (driver's is height adjustable)
Alarm and engine immobiliser (keypad code entry at base of centre console)
Remote central locking with deadlocks
Front fog lights
Full 3-point seat belts front and rear (2 occupants)
Peugeot 306 Cabrio Phase 2
To keep in-line with the whole 306 model range, the Cabriolet and Roadster received the same upgrades as their hatchback and saloon counterparts. The most noticable change from the outside was the new style nose and front air dam which included more feline headlights and round front fog lights. To compliment this, the new style Cyclone 15" alloy wheel were introduced as standard.
Under the bonnet, the Phase 2 models rejected the 8 valve 2.0 litre engines in favour of the new 2.0 litre 16 valve type originally seen in the S16 hatchback (the "GTi Lite").
Inside, there was a change in material used to make the dashboard plastic. The Phase 1 model employed harder plastic which started to show its age when along-side new competitors like the VW Golf Mk 4. Softer-to-touch plastic was introduced in the Phase 2 models.
To cater to more variations in trim and spec - there was previously only a Cabriolet and Roadster - Peugeot introduced the S and SE badges just prior to the introduction of the Phase 3 model. All models still featured a 2.0 litre engine.
Here is the list of features new to the Phase 2 model:
16 valve, 2.0 litre engine, multi-point injected, 135bhp @ 5500rpm, 135lb/ft torque @ 4200rpm, 4 cylinder
New look grille (central slat removed) and front air dam
Front main headlamp's shape changed: all-in-one (indicator sections not separate)
Round front fog lights
Cyclone 15" alloys as standard
High-level LED brake light integrated into boot lid
Remote infra-red central locking/alarm/immobiliser (sensor above interior mirror) and keypad immobiliser removed
New softer material for dashboard
Rear of folding roof interior lining covers up-to and around rear window (Phase 1 model lining "tent like")
Fog light controls moved from cental column to left stalk
Cigarette lighter moved to area below digital clock/temperature display
Mechanical odometer replaced with digital (including trip meter) with servicing interval count-down
Roof buzzer removed
Colour-coded roof available from October 1998 onwards
Passenger airbag standard from 1998 onwards
Introduction of S and SE spec
Peugeot 306 Cabrio Phase 3
The final push to make the Cabriolet appeal to the end of its production life was mainly a cosmetic and specification change. Again, to keep up with automotive trends happening around Peugeot, the front light lenses were changed into the "crystal" effect type. Limited amounts of external trim was changed.
Internally, the Phase 3 model dropped the wooden veneer used on the central column of the dashboard, replaced with an alumium effect covering which also extended to the top of the gearstick. More importantly, side airbags were installed up-front for additional safety.
Under the bonnet, a choice of engines finally appeared, even though they could be specified overseas from the outset. Both Phase 1 and Phase 2 Cabriolet and Roadster models were only supplied with a 2.0 litre engine in the UK. With the advent of the Phase 3 model, a 1.8 litre engine was offered. The 2.0 litre engine ceased to be available December 2000 at which point the top engine option was the 1.8 and a 1.6 litre engine was introduced (automatic transmission only).
The 2.0 litre engine was the preserve of the SE until it was withdrawn - then both S and SE models could be had with either 1.6 or 1.8 litre engines. To confuse matters, the previous Cabriolet and Roadster models remained available throughout 1999, albeit with the upgrades.
Modifications between Phase 2 and 3 models:
Crystal-effect front head and fog lights
Colour-coded roof (S and SE specification models only)
Clear side indicator lenses
Thinner side-rubbing strips
Engines available: 1.6 litre (auto only), 1.8 litre, 2.0 litre - all 16 valve
Electronic Brake Force Distributor (EBFD) added to Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) system
Side airbags as standard up front
Front passenger airbag deactivation switch
Aluminium effect dashboard and gearstick cap insterts
Both Cabriolet S and SE models change from radio/casette head unit to radio/single CD slot type
Radio "rolling code" transponder immbiliser
UK Models Types and special editions
The "Cabriolet" was the first model type to be introduced and for much of the car's production history formed the basis of all other types.
Availability: May 1994 - 2000
Engine options: 2.0, 8v and 16v (1994 - 2000)
1.8, 16v (1999 - 2000)
Special features: Hard top supplied as standard
"Roadster" boot badge (not always present)
Introduced with the end of the Phase 2 lifespan, the Cabriolet S represented the base model once the original Cabriolet was phased out. It is the only model offered with 14" alloy alloys as standard and never featured a 2.0 litre engine in Phase 2 guise.
Standard wheels: Swallow, 14"
Cyclone, 15" (July 2000 - December 2000)
Special features: Metallic or pearlescent paint no-cost option
Firefly cloth and leather trim
Static (non-electric) aerial from December 2000
Introduced along with the S model, the Cabriolet SE featured full leather interior as standard. Also, from its launch it featured a boot-mounted 6 CD autochanger as standard until December 2000, at which point air conditioning became standard instead. The SE was always offered with the largest engine available at the time but automatic transmission was only offered in the July 2000 brochure which was superceded in December 2000.
Special features: Metallic or pearlescent paint no-cost option
Always featured full leather interior
Automatic transmission (except with 1.8 S/SE or 2.0 SE - only transmission for Roland Garros or 1.6 S)
Colour-coded hard top (standard on Roadster)
Full leather interior* (not applicable to Roland Garros)
Air conditioning (* from December 2000 onwards)
Passenger airbag (standard from 1998 onwards on all models)
Rear passenger head restraints (standard on Cabriolet S and SE models)
Boot-mounted 6 CD multichanger**
*Standard on Cabriolet SE
**Standard on all models from February 1998 to December 2000 apart from Cabriolet S
Optional Peugeot 6.0J 15" Alloy Wheels
The total number of 306 Cabriolets produced is not available via the internet. However, considering the model ceased to be sold in 2003 in the UK, and it can be assumed that 2002 did not see many cars produced, this article on Pininfirina's website gives a good idea...
"Pininfarina recently celebrated the 75,000th Peugeot 306 Cabriolet to roll off the Pininfarina assembly line at San Giorgio Canavese. A major milestone in which the Company takes enormous pride and satisfaction and which bears witness to a huge and lasting market success that even surpasses the earlier one of the Peugeot 205 Cabriolet of which over 72,000 units were produced in 1985-95.
"The bodywork for the Peugeot 306 Cabriolet has been in regular production at Pininfarina since 1994. In that year it was voted "Convertible of the Year" by an international jury of motoring journalists. Then in September 2000 Peugeot asked Pininfarina to do the mechanicals as well, just as it had for the Peugeot 406 Coupé.
"The distinctive feature of the Peugeot 306 Cabriolet is its two-layer electro-hydraulic hood which folds right away under its rigid tonneau. This feature designed by Pininfarina, which is standard on all these cabriolets, is typical of higher segment vehicles. The 306 Cabriolet is also available with an optional hard-top that transforms it into an ever more multifunctional model.
"On sale all over the European Union, the Peugeot 306 Cabriolet is also available in Brazil, Scandinavia and Taiwan. And a right-hand drive version is on sale in Australia, New Zealand and Japan."