Primarily designed to battle the Audi TT and VW Scirocco, Peugeot’s quirky coupe is coming forth with its individualistic design that arguably rises above its opponents. But is it better?
Visually, the Peugeot RCZ is recognizable as belonging to the French marque, as its grin, spanning the entire width of the front bumper creates an immediate association. The fabled “fish mouth” carries on, albeit with a better looking design than its brethren. Underneath, a subtle crease of in the lower part of the bumper incorporates the LED day time running lights. As for the hood, its gentle slope ends right above the grille, with the Peugeot lion finished in chrome.
Based on the drivetrain of the 308, the Peugeot RCZ shares the majority of its components with the compact hatchback, including – until the recent facelift – the headlamps. Now, a sleeker, less sharp variant decorates the upper part of the fascia. Coming as standard with Halogen lamps, the light cluster has a stylish aluminium casing, whose shiny contours is even more evident if the Xenon variant is chosen.
Taking design cues from supercars, the RCZ has a cab forward design, meaning that the green house – or cabin – is pushed toward the front of the vehicle. This leaves the rear more open, and in Peugeot’s case, allowed for the addition of a decent boot. Wide rear arches emphasize the muscular character of the vehicle, with the rear light incorporated in their structure. Unlike its rivals, the French automobile left aside the conservative lines of the Germans and brought forth boldness and individuality. Among the most striking elements of the RCZ is the unique double bubble roof, which sends us thinking about the 90’s editions of the Dodge Viper. Yet, unlike the North American sports car, the slanted glass surface of the rear window continues the lines of the aluminium roof until it meets the boot.
Rounding off its features is a long rear end, with clean lines and a double exhaust system finished in chrome. Seemingly more at home in a video game than on the road, the Peugeot RCZ is most definitely one of the best looking compact coupes on the market today.
If by any chance you will not be satisfied by its standard variants, Peugeot introduced the RCZ R, which has the most powerful 1.6 litre engine in the world, at 270 horsepower. As with the 308, it remains front wheel drive, but its body sits 10mm closer to the ground than the normal RCZ; combined with a stiffer suspension, the 0-62 mile per hour sprint takes 5.9 seconds and the top speed increases to (an electronically limited) 155 miles per hour. A price tag of a little over £32,000 is also attached to the coupe, but you also get the option of having a carbon roof.
Peugeot RCZ – 5 Point Review
In the cabin, the dashboard and center layout is quite nice. The dials are especially nice and you might even confuse the lines of the instrument cluster for as belonging to a true sports car, should the ugly steering wheel not be in the way.
You also get a pop-up display on top of the dashboard, which serves as a media centre and as navigation, but its placement is rather unfortunate, as you’ll see in the practicality section. Lower specification Peugeot RCZ’s receive a cloth/leather upholstery option, while higher tier are fully covered in smooth leather. Aluminium trim also comes should you be willing to spend more money, giving the cabin a much sportier feel than you’d get in the base version.
Contrary to what the looks might lead you to believe, the Peugeot RCZ is not the swiftest car on the road, especially if it’s equipped with the 1.6 litre, 156 bhp petrol engine, as it tends to be quite lazy. You won’t have the greatest time in your life trying to overtake another car, as the unit will feel underpowered. There’s also the 2.0 litre diesel, that offers 163bhp, but the recommended choice would be the 1.6 litre petrol with 200bhp, as it will have considerably improved behaviour compared to the base choice.
The RCZ R benefits from a host of improvements over the Sport or GT versions, as its rear suspension is 44 per cent stiffer and it also has front limited slip differential, in order to prevent tyre spin or loss of grip. Speaking of grip, there’s more than sufficient to suit most situations – just don’t take it to a race track! Also, the R might have some issues with irregularities on the road, as the combination between the stiff suspension and low profile tires, fitted on 19 inch alloy wheels is not the most fortunate. The Sport or GT, however, should have no problem, as they have softer springs and smaller, 18 inch wheels.
While the Peugeot RCZ has received mainly favourable reviews, there have been complaints associated with the car. Among them we mention the failure of various sensors and noisy engines and brakes (which seem to have been taken care of by warranty). On the other hand, the car has received appreciations over its build quality, generous standard options, ride quality and ample boot space.
Unlike the 308, the RCZ has not been tested by Euro NCAP, but its hatchback brethren on which it is based has receive five star ration, so it should put safety concerns to rest. Moreover, the coupe is fitted with a tyre pressure monitoring system, four airbags, stability control system, and ABS.
In the UK, the base Sport version, equipped with the 1.6 litre, 156bhp petrol engine starts from £22,350. A manual six speed gearbox accompanies this configuration, while the fuel economy figures stand at 44.1mpg. The 163bhp diesel will be a bit more costly, at £24,200, but it will return 54.3mpg.
The GT can be fitted with either of the two engines of the Sport version or the 1.6 litre, 200bhp petrol. Lesser mileage will come bundled, at 42.1mpg.
The Peugeot RCZ R is fitted with the turbocharged 1.6 litre, 270bhp petrol, which is the most powerful 1.6 on the planet. A powerful engine, but so is the marketing. Moving on to mileage, the unit will return 44.8mpg mixed cycle and it will come with only a manual gearbox. Price for an R starts from £32,250.
Space for the front passenger and the driver is more than plentiful, especially the headroom, thanks to the double bubble roof. Even if it is supposed to carry four persons, Peugeot says the rear seats are “for occasional use” – and they’re right. Putting adults in there would be close to torture, as the cushions are thin, headroom is lacking and leg room is laughable. In the best case scenario, small children may fit in.
Measuring 384 litres, the boot is nothing to be ashamed about. It can hold your bags, shopping or whatever you might find suitable to put in there, but don’t overdo it. Folding the rear seats – as it is ultimately a 2+2, can bring a total of 760 litres and an actual use for them.
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