It has been a very long time since Peugeot last built a car you would want to be seen in let alone part with your hard earned pounds for. In fact the last Peugeot I would have bought is the rather simple yet brilliant 106 and that was back in the 90’s. The reason why so many automotive journalists tend to avoid praising the French brand is due to them building a) cars that are embarrassingly ugly, b) cars that fall apart at the mere thought of being owned for longer than 6 months, or c) cars with engines so pitiful that a spotty teenager on a scooter makes a faster getaway from the lights. So when asked to review the new Peugeot RCZ I was thinking that this could only go badly.
However I was in London at the unavailing of this cars concept form a few years ago and I remember being in awe of its design work. The bold curves that make its silhouette so prominent, the roof arches that form a single yet definitive line on the machines profile and not forgetting the double-bubble roof that is fresh from the racing forefront. Two years later and you would imagine that all the creativity from the concept has been castrated for the finished road going product… But thinking that was my first mistake. I purposely arranged to test the car after dusk to insure I wouldn’t be mocked for using it, but after giving it the once over I rather wished there was an audience. The voluptuous shapes from the concept had made it onto the finished RCZ, not modified or changed but identical to what I left behind on that show stand in 2008. It is a very good looking machine and not just for a Peugeot, but any car.
This particular model is the top spec GT with the optional 200BHP THP petrol engine. It comes paired with a 6 speed manual and will merrily do 39.8MPG to provide at the very least some ecological reasoning to a possible purchase. The GT with this engine will cost just over £25,000 which is very reasonable considering that the nearest competitor is a £27,130 Audi TT with no equipment at all. Inside the RCZ it is like something from the the starship enterprise as muscular leather seats fill the cars interior whilst you are surrounded by an ultra modern console. It does give off a very high quality feel with aluminum trimmed instruments and art-nouveau shapes. The feeling of being in a cabin is most welcome
In motion the RCZ is very well composed gliding from corner to corner. Though in comparison to competitors it doesn’t really attack a bend with as much vigor, but it does lend itself to be placed on the apex of corners very easily. The 200BHP engine produces a rather sweet note as you work through the gears and also provides much torque making city driving that bit more entertaining. The RCZ comes equipped with a deployable spoiler for extra downforce in combination with the very efficient double-bubble. The ride is a little firm for my liking as running trough a rutted town does give the effect that there is an Earth tremor occurring outside, however you will find this with all coupes as it is the trade that must be made for performance.
The car seats four on paper but realistically that is two adults and two children under the age of four. The boot on the other hand is something to be marveled at as it is capable of swallowing everything from the weekly shop to a baby cow thanks to the latest Peugeot TARDIS technology.
So there it is the surprisingly economical, partially practical, very attractive, well built Peugeot RCZ. The best thing? This being the top specification means there is several options below it and the result is that you can get all of the above, be it with a smaller engine, for less than £20,000. Now that is a price Audi can’t afford to match.