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Good looks focus attention on Peugeot RCZ

I have a soft spot for small sporting Peugeots. It could be something to do with the two Peugeot 205GTIs that I owned in the 1980s. So, when the new Peugeot RCZ coupé turned up in my driveway, I was more than a little interested.

It is a very attractive-looking coupe from most angles. Possibly its full-frontal view is the weakest, thanks to the Peugeot ‘big maw’ corporate look – a style that I have never been too fond of.

Peugeot RCZ

On the test car the contrasting silver around the roof line gives the RCZ a particularly attractive profile and, of course, the twin bubble roof and rear window is a flourish of pure style. Like the Audi TT, there is a pop-up rear spoiler that appears at higher speeds to keep the rear wheels pressed onto the tarmac (there is also a switch to raise it manually).



The bottom line is that this car looks special and desirable.

Peugeot’s designers have worked equally hard to make the interior look special. One nice upmarket touch on the test car was the dashboard covered in stitched leather. It is part of the £515 ‘integral leather’ option.

Like many Peugeots in recent years, it took me a few minutes to find a really comfortable driving position. I seem to end up driving Peugeots almost from the back seat, with the steering wheel extended. It’s almost as though Peugeot has taken over from the Italians with their erstwhile predilection for a long-arm, short-leg driving position.

Anyway, I did get quite comfortable, but it rendered the RZC a 2+1, rather than a 2+2 coupé. There was literally no space between the back of my seat and the cushion of the seat behind. In reality these +2 seats are only really suitable for children or easily-foldable, compact adults.

The boot however is surprisingly practical. It is big, with a usable shape. The only downside – in common with most coupés is the need to lift any luggage up and over, taking care not to scratch the bodywork.

So, duly installed and feeling quite at home, I headed out on the open road for the first of several drives.

Peugeot RCZ interior

My conclusion is that the Peugeot RCZ is easy and quite enjoyable to drive. However – perhaps because of the superb sporting looks – there is a slight feeling of anti-climax.

Whereas I would relish the opportunity to drive my beloved Peugeot 205 GTIs at the slightest excuse and would always return with a grin as wide as the Cheshire cat, the Peugeot RCZ fell a tad short of the expectations built up by those stylish design cues. It feels good and secure on twisty roads, but I would like a little more involvement and feedback for the driver.

My test car was the Peugeot RCZ GT THP156. The 156 bhp 1.6-litre engine delivers reasonable performance. Acceleration 0-62 mph takes 8.3 seconds.

But, those craving more power and rapid performance will need to save up an extra £2,300 for the more powerful GT THP 200 model, which – as its designation suggests – produces 200 bhp.

Peugeot RCA

Combined fuel consumption for the THP 156 is quoted at 42.1 mpg. In real life conditions, across town and country driving, I achieved an average of 27.3 mpg. Carbon dioxide emissions are 155g/km which puts the RCZ into band G for UK road tax.

The price of the Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156 is £22,750. In Peugeot’s own range probably the most obvious similar model would be the Peugeot 308 CC, the coupé convertible. However, the RCZ looks considerably more special, such that the extra £355 seems well worth paying (unless, of course, you really must have open-air motoring).

Offering looks that rank alongside the Audi TT for considerably less money, it is the RCZ’s style, rather than its driving dynamics, that will draw buyers into Peugeot showrooms.
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