Peugeot RCZ diesel - car review
It says a lot for the state of the motor industry that a manufacturer wants to gauge from buyers and press before taking a concept and making it reality. But that was the case for Peugeot and its RCZ Coupé.
Here is a massive departure for a manufacturer who has spent so much of the past 30 years majoring in small volume cars and has proved to be pretty good at it. We knew, given the spicy number that is the GTI, that the potential was always there to make something tasty.
A couple of coupés have emerged from the stable, the rather elegant 406 coupé designed by Pininfarina and the rather large 407 coupé – a car seldom seen, despite its dimensions. Neither of these offered anything approaching the excitement of the 205GTI for instance, but instead made worthy motorway cruisers.
What Peugeot has managed to achieve with the RCZ is a mix of GTI and motorway cruiser and what a fine blend it is.
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In true production style, the RCZ is based on another in the Peugeot range – the popular 308 hatchback.In fact, its original tag was 308 RCZ. But to saddle such a car with such a moniker would detract from its singular beauty and condemn it to a life of...
"Cor, that's smart mate, what is it?"
"A 308 RCZ."
How those brief encounters would eat away at your love of this beauty – so the 308 label was removed and credibility salvaged.
So what remains? Well, the chassis, for starters. It has seen some tinkering, but fundamentally it's a 308. But don't let that put you off – after all, the Audi TT shares its platform with cars as diverse as the Volkswagen Tiguan and Audi A3.
I've done well up until now, not mentioning its direct competitor, but it had to happen eventually, so let's get it out of the way. There will always be the obvious visual comparisons to the TT, they do look similar, but the French car is a more shapely take on the 2+2 coupé.
Where the Audi has that spartan, Teutonic look to it, the RCZ seems to have been caressed and bumps added at appropriate places.The most notable of these are the curves that rise from the roof and extend into the rear screen. This double bubble ensemble is framed by a pair of aluminum arches that flow into the wide, flat rear end, which gives the illusion of a car with a mid-mounted engine.
Sadly, things are not as handsome up front. The RCZ is blessed with the Peugeot family nose and considering everything from the flared, front wheel arches back has a wow factor, the nose is a bit of a letdown.
Climb aboard and, bearing in mind the price point of this Gallic delight, you should be mighty impressed.Again, the 308 has a large say in its design, but stitched leather covers the seats and dashboard, giving the cabin an expensive feel. Where leather isn't applied, the materials used are so soft as to be almost malleable.
There is a full range of adjustment in the lower-slung seats and multifunction steering wheel. It feels like a proper 2+2 sports car and the lack of any sort of space behind the front seats only reinforces this. Peugeot has fitted a rear bench of sorts, but you'll struggle to get anything bigger than a Labrador in there, although the large rear screen will afford him a great view and it should be said, you too. The boot, on the other hand, is colossal for a car of this ilk.
Fold the rear bench flat and capacity is up to 700-plus litres of load space.Three engines are available, two petrol units and one diesel.Our test car was fitted with the diesel, which was a blessing considering the journey I was just about to undertake, covering nearly 300 miles of motorway in one day and taking in another test drive halfway through.
The car always looks as if it could hold its own along any section of country lane, but a long motorway haul, now that's a different challenge entirely.But the marriage of the 2.0 litre HDi FAP 163 engine, with a tall sixth gear and surprisingly supple ride made the journey very pleasant indeed. Settled for more than an hour at motorway speeds, the engine returned an average in excess of 45mpg across the whole trip and that was with a few B roads thrown in for good measure.
Prices for the RCZ open at just over £21,000 for the 156bhp 1.6-litre petrol Sport version and peak at £29,995 for the Asphalt THP 200.