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Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156

Click to view picture galleryThe RCZ ‘double bubble-roofed
  sports coupe is the flagship of
  the Peugeot line-up; it
s recently
  had a mid-life refresh in terms of
  styling and equipment and offers a
  wider choice of options with new
  colour and trim combinations

BUT NO MECHANICAL CHANGES. However, at the end of this year Peugeot are introducing the RCZ 'R' variant with a new 260bhp 1.6-litre THP turbocharged petrol engine the most powerful production model in Peugeot's history.

But for now the revised 2013 RCZ continues in Sport and GT guise with three engine choices: 156bhp 1.6 THP petrol manual/auto; 200bhp 1.6 THP petrol manual; and 163bhp 2.0-litre HDI turbodiesel. A limited edition Magnetic trim version has just been added and is available on all three engines but only with manual transmissions. The top-selling version currently remains the 24,000 GT 156bhp 1.6 THP manual. Prices for the range start at 21,600 and go up to 27,735.

The standard Sport specification continues with 18-inch alloy wheels and a host of familiar features including dual-zone AirCon, rear parking aid, USB and Bluetooth. For 2013 this is enhanced by the addition of automatic lighting, including 'Approach' and 'Follow-me-Home' features. New options on RCZ Sport include half-leather and leather/Alcantara trim finishes.

“The RCZ’s stiff
suspension keeps
bodyroll to a minimum;
cornering grip
is in keeping with the
Coupe’s sporty image;
the steering weight
is generally on the heavy
side of neutral — but it
gives precision during
fast cornering.
At the best-selling GT level, the latest RCZ comes with 19-inch alloy wheels as well as front and rear parking sensors. In the cabin there's more sports kit with a smaller steering wheel, a short-throw gearlever, leather upholstery, electrically-adjustable and heated front seats and sports pedals.

The limited edition Magnetic version adds to the GT spec Peugeot's Connect navigation system with Connect SOS and Assistance, different 19-inch alloys and unique leather colours in black or red to complement the Pearl White or Nera Black exterior paintwork.

The 2013 exterior changes are mainly at the front with a smaller and more refined grille, sharply styled new headlights and new signature daytime LED running lights. The RCZ continues with its low and wide curvy shape and that eye-catching 'double-bubble' roof positioned midway in the coupe's overall length. Also retained is the rear spoiler positioned below the rear window which deploys automatically or manually.

There are no technical changes to the engines, drivetrain or suspension settings. A pity when it comes to the unforgiving suspension because the RCZ has never given the best of 'rides' over poorer road surfaces. The firm settings and 19-inch wheels do not cushion the impacts from potholes, and the ride can be jittery as the wheels patter over rippled surfaces. That noted, on smoother surfaces the ride becomes more comfortable.

On the plus side the stiff suspension keeps bodyroll to a minimum and cornering grip is in keeping with the Coupe's sporty image. The steering weight is generally on the heavy side of neutral, but I like that because it overcomes the lack of feedback from the electronic system and gives preciseness during fast cornering.

The 1.6-litre, four-cylinder high-pressure turbocharged petrol engine produces 156bhp but, more importantly, 177lb ft of torque from just 1,400rpm. This high-ish torque output at low revs makes this engine very responsive in the low- to mid-range speeds and means that there's no over-use of the six-speed gearbox.

Top-end performance doesn't lose out either with a maximum 133mph and zero to 62mph done and dusted in 8.3 seconds. A special mention for the gearchange is in order: with its short-throw gearlever, it's a joy to use as well as being very smooth and precise.

“The real-life fuel
economy was
impressively good with
40.2mpg recorded
on my week-long test
drive covering all types
of roads and
traffic conditions.
The real-life fuel economy was impressively good as well, with 40.2mpg recorded on my week-long test drive covering all types of roads and traffic conditions. Officially the figure is 44.1mpg so my test car came very close and that doesn't happen very often. With CO2 emissions of 149g/km the road tax is 140 a year.

Inside the latest RCZ it's plush and well put together; it looks and feels of high quality and I like its easy-to-live-with design. The smaller steering wheel does mask the corners of the sports instruments but generally it's a nice place to be.

The same cannot be said about getting in and out of the low slung Coupe body. Whilst its 'double-bubble' roof provides good headroom, for anybody approaching six feet in height getting through the low front door frames is difficult and more than once I hit my head — hard.

Being a 2+2 Coupe means seating in the rear is always going to be restricted — very much so with the RCZ. Really, you should treat it as a two-seater. That said there is a largish boot of 384 litres which doubles to 760 litres with the two rear seats folded — making it a stylish, long-legged, fuel-frugal Coupe that's ideal for longer journeys where luggage has to be carried just so long as there's only the driver and front seat passenger on board.

The Peugeot RCZ only really comes up short in its appeal because of the less than easy access if you are a six-footer, and limited legroom should you need to carry rear passengers (although I suspect few owners will).

Okay, in sales numbers terms it's never going to trouble the Audi TT Coupe or the Volkswagen Scirocco. But so what; I like its stand-out styling and the rarity ownership value, plus the sensible performance from its frugal but fun engine, the spacious boot, good spec and high quality interior. —
David Miles

Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156 | 24,000
Top speed: 133mph | 0-62mph: 8.3 seconds | Average Test MPG: 40.2mpg
Power: 156bhp | Torque: 177lb ft | CO2 149g/km