RCZ Sport 1.6 HDi
may be something of a cliché,
but first impressions really do
count... a lot. For proof, run your
eye over Peugeots striking new
sports coupe, the RCZ...
IF YOU CAN LIVE WITH BEING THE CENTRE OF ATTENTION then the RCZ's
looks alone would make it the ideal car. However, that other cliché
the one about beauty only being skin deep doesn't apply
because under the RCZ's handsome part-aluminium bodywork you'll
find an assured, can-do sports coupe.
The undoubted highlight of the RCZ's design is the stand-out, Le Mans-inspired
double-bubble roof and dark-tinted rear windscreen, enhanced by the almost theatrical
arc of the glasshouse's elegant aluminium side bars. But the roof is not just
for looks it works to smooth the airflow over the car, channelling 'dirty'
air away over the muscular-looking tail.
The excellent aerodynamics are confirmed by the fact that you can drive the
RCZ with the windows down without being blasted and buffeted try that
on most cars and you'll be forced to shut them long before you hit 40mph.
For those interested in making a statement, the roof panel can be specified
in carbon-fibre (or, alternatively, in satin black or brilliant black) while
the dramatic arched roof pillars can be finished in a choice of aluminium shades.
open a door and drop into one of the voluptuous sports seats (the RCZ is as
undeniably as low-slung as it is sexy) and you'll find a smart, although not
quite as attention-grabbing as the outside, interior notable for its high level
shoulder and you might
be rather surprised
to spot a pair of rear
seats in such a
even though the RCZ
is billed as a 2+2...
Glance over your shoulder and you might be rather surprised to spot a pair of
rear seats in such a sporty-looking machine even though the RCZ is billed as
Frameless doors and a tilt-and-slide mechanism on both front chairs aids access
to the 'occasional' rear seats. For many owners these will rarely be used and,
if they are, then only for shopping or storage. We did fit in a tallish adult,
and he was quite happy but it was only for a twenty-minute trip. Parents
will be glad of the three-point Isofix fixtures in the two rear seats to accommodate
Out of sight and even more unexpected than rear seating is a generous
384-litre boot. Pull the lever in the boot to fold the backrest and this doubles
to an almost flat load bay with a 760-litre capacity. Minimised or maximised,
it's a big advantage over its competitors and makes the RCZ perfectly suited
for long-distance touring holidays à deux. For the record, the RCZ's official
extra-urban fuel consumption is 62.7mpg. Now there's something to look forward
to if you're motoring down to Spain for the summer. Advantage RCZ!
A final word about the boot as is fast becoming the norm, there's no
spare wheel or space-saver to steal valuable luggage room; just a puncture repair
kit. Oh, and there's a hidden 30-litre multi-compartment storage tray under
the boot floor for odds and ends.
Front seat passengers enjoy decent head, shoulder, leg and foot room
the RCZ proving more spacious on the inside than expected. The powered, leather-covered
seats (nicely bolstered and with integral head-restraints, 3-stage heating and
adjustable lumbar support plus, on the driver's side, 2 memory settings) are
supportive and very comfortable. A centre armrest offers variable height settings
without cramping the handbrake, and tops off a handy storage box.
Drivers will be more than satisfied with the low-set, sporty driving position
especially as, despite the visually low 'greenhouse', visibility out to the
front and sides is very good indeed and placing the RCZ on the road is easy.
The large rear screen and rear quarter lights also make for relatively straightforward
parking; if you prefer a little help when reversing, a graphic appears on the
driver's display at the top of the fascia, plus there are also audible rear
steering wheel is flat-bottomed, leather wrapped and has great-to-touch perforated
work areas and chrome-covered thumb cut-outs. It also has generous height and
reach adjustment. Like the well-chosen mix of trim materials, the cabin ergonomics
are well-considered; the switchgear is well sited and the instruments crystal
is flat-bottomed, leather
wrapped and has
work areas and
The hi-fi and climate controls, as well as a smart analogue clock, are housed
in the centre stack that sweeps down from the dash to the base of the centre
tunnel and the nicely-to-hand gear lever. A compact swan-neck handbrake saves
on clutter and works perfectly. All dials are enhanced by chrome bezels and
overall the cabin atmosphere is one of quality and attention to detail.
Neat touches that make the RCZ easy to live with day in and day out include
the abundance of storage spaces around the cabin, from a cooled glovebox to
large door pockets, and the opposed action wipers that sweep outwards from the
centre to keep more of the windscreen clear in bad weather. And showing dedicated
attention to detail, evidently somebody at Peugeot even spent time checking
how the folding door mirrors would look when parked; they look great, and that's
not just down to chance.
Despite the keen pricing, the Sport model is kitted out with Sport front seats,
automatic dual-zone climate control, cruise control, speed limiter, rear parking
aid, power mirrors and windows, drive-off auto central locking, auto wipers,
heated power-fold mirrors (on demand and automatically on locking), decent MP3-compatible
6-speaker audio/CD system that comes bundled with hands-free Bluetooth, folding
rear bench seat, front and side airbags for both front occupants and an electronic
stability and traction control system with ABS and electronic brake force distribution
and emergency brake assist. Hill Assist is also part of the package. Externally,
the Sport model comes with 18-inch alloys, black roof panel, sports exhaust
and an active rear spoiler.
But when your car looks this good you'll be in a hurry to drive it. Fire up
the engine in our case the 163bhp turbodiesel although 156 and 200bhp
petrol versions are also available and you won't need much road to find
out that the diesel version offers smart off-the-mark acceleration with 0-62mph
done and dusted in 8.7 seconds. Maximum speed is 134mph. It's as willing as
it is flexible and zips along with no hint that it's a diesel; pick-up, even
in top gear on the motorway, is good.
stability at higher speeds is an automatic (with manual override) active rear
spoiler that deploys in one of two positions to benefit fuel consumption and
road holding: the first position (19 degrees) opens at more than 53mph (and
folds away below 34mph); the second position (34 degrees) is activated at speeds
in excess of 96mph, not returning to the 19-degree position until speed drops
back to 90mph.
you would hope
from such a seductive
body, the RCZ serves up
an entertaining and
experience thanks to
high levels of grip and
taut body control...
As you would hope from such a seductive body, the RCZ serves up an entertaining
and involving driving experience thanks to high levels of grip and taut body
control. Enhanced, of course, by the willing low-down grunt from the 240lb ft
of torque on tap between 2-3,000rpm. And when you need to rein her in, the RCZ's
strong brakes are always there for you.
Even riding on 18-inch rims, the pleasingly firm ride never becomes harsh or
uncomfortable and offers a sensible compromise that accommodates both everyday
and press-on driving and we predict RCZ owners will be doing quite a
lot of the latter.
Talking of pressing on... You'll praise the six-speed manual 'box's fast, crisp
and accurate gear change action along with the quick, speed-sensitive steering;
a good match for the RCZ's overall balance and agility. Through both tricky
and sweeping bends the RCZ holds its line, riding flat without any drama. Certainly
it can hold its head up high alongside rivals such as the Audi TT and VW Scirocco.
With its head-turning styling and value-for-money pricing, the RCZ is a sure
thing quite frankly, who gives a damn whose badge is on the bootlid of
a car this tasty. And if your head rules your heart, consider this: the RCZ
is forecast to have the next best residual values to the class-leader, the Audi
TT. And this too: 41.4mpg overall driven hard. MotorBar
Peugeot RCZ Sport 1.6 HDi | £22,250
Maximum speed: 134mph | 0-62mph: 8.7 seconds | Overall test MPG: 41.4mpg
Power: 163bhp | Torque: 240lb ft | CO2 139g/km