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Peugeot RCZ GT THP 200

Click to view picture gallery“A refined grand tourer, Peugeots
  head-turning RCZ also has the ability
  to satisfy as an eager sports coupe.
  It has arguably more presence than
  an Audi TT and in range-topping
spec costs just 25,945...

WITH AN ATTAINABLE 'BUY NOW' PRICE of between 21,245 and 25,945, the RCZ delivers a lot of road presence for the money. But '200' is the number that excites would-be owners the most. Lesser models can only muster 156 (petrol) and 163 (diesel). Like 'the ton' (100mph) so revered in the 60s, the Noughties benchmark jingle is 200 bhp, of course.

And to make sure you can make the most of the RCZ 200's power and torque, Peugeot have fitted a slicker gearbox the six-speed manual change is a pleasure to use; the well-considered ratios unerringly selected with short crisp throws of the stubby lever. Of the ratios, second is good for around 58mph which makes it perfect for 'max trax' when entering and exiting a demanding, low-speed corner.

While looking extraordinarily unordinary (don't miss the 'un' there) on the road, the wide-tracked RCZ's supple chassis is on the firm side but still compliant enough to iron out the bumps and courtesy of some stiffer springs and dampers over the less powerful models, it's also game for some spirited driving in keeping with its 'fit' looks.

Accurate steering allied
to sharp turn-in keeps
the RCZ’s pilot in control
of this French filly
keenness for diving
through the twisty bits
On the straights it's steadfast and well-planted; through the twists and turns it's flat-riding, grippy and entertaining.

Accurate steering allied to sharp turn-in keeps the RCZ's pilot in control of this French filly's keenness for diving through the twisty bits.

The flat-bottomed wheel great to hold and use, with perforated leather 'work' areas is of a slightly smaller diameter and adds to the RCZ 200's 'flickability'. Thankfully, courtesy of some bigger brakes, mademoiselle also stops smartly.

It never ceases to amaze that people criticise two-plus-two coupe's such as the RCZ for not seating four adults in comfort or for having a smallish boot. Doh! If you buy a sporty coupe for driving pleasure why in Heaven's name would you want to handicap the dynamics by lugging around the physical equivalent of umpteen bags of potatoes in the three other seats?

And as for the boot, in point of fact the RCZ actually has a very commodious one not only bigger than usual for a coupe but even large enough for a third passenger who doesn't want to squeeze into the 'kids r us' rear seats! Beneath the lift-up boot floor you'll find a usefully large and deep multi-section storage tray along with a tyre repair kit and powered inflation pump.

And keeping everything in place anytime you feel like some spirited driving is a stretchy luggage-net. Finally, and completely unexpected in this style of car, the rear seat backrests fold forward, extending the boot floor by a further 19 inches and making a flat loadbay five feet long by forty inches wide. The high-opening bootlid makes loading easy.

More good news:
unlike a lot of turboed
engines, the 200bhp
Frenchie pulls clean and
hard with no let up
all the way to 6,500rpm
and the point the
rev-limiter cuts in
Beneath the RCZ's low bonnet beats a blown (with a twin-scroll, fast-response turbocharger) 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engine putting out 200bhp.

Being a petrol engine, bhp and torque are invariably closely matched: in the RCZ's case, 206lb ft of torque is on hand. Zero to 62mph takes 7.6 seconds quick enough to feel sharp-edged and urgent when worked. Top speed matches the go-faster looks: 146mph.

More good news: unlike a lot of turboed engines, the 200bhp Frenchie pulls clean and hard with no let-up all the way to 6,500rpm and the point the rev-limiter cuts in. Feed it the revs and it sounds pretty good too all snarly and growly with a crisp bark from the exhaust.

Officially the fuel consumption is practical: 31mpg urban; 50.4 extra-urban; and 40.9mpg on the combined cycle a week of smile-inducing real-world driving saw a very acceptable test average of 36.4mpg.

The RCZ 200's cabin is every bit as smart and focussed as those of its lesser stablemates and we've detailed all three in previous RCZ reviews: worth 'retweeting' is the sporty low-slung seating (both with integral headrests, lumbar support, height adjustment, especially good shoulder support and very effective three-stage heating; and the driver also gets two memory settings), the easy-to-read day-and-night orange driver information displays (and not forgetting the handy digital mph read-out), smart dials with rapier-slim pointers (and white on black carbon-fibre-look faces) made smarter by the stylish font used for the graphics that are also matched to the analogue clock that sits top-dead-centre of the fascia.

We also liked the 3D SatNav with an adjustable screen angle that can be folded away when not required and the strident horn note loud and clear; just like the RCZ's intent on the road. And you can take for granted other luxuries such as one-shot electric windows, powerfold mirrors (on demand and automatically on locking), dial 'n' forget dual-zone climate control (that does very efficient hot and cold), a cooled glovebox and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

An automatic rear
spoiler adds to the RCZ’s
purposeful look and the
fact than it can be
manually raised at any
time by the driver will,
rightly or wrongly,
appeal to many eager to
up their street cred
Also standard are front and rear parking sensors (actually, visibility is surprisingly good all round and you can 'sense' all four corners from the driver's seat), alloy pedal-set, leather upholstery and full leather coverage of the fascia and centre stack.

Useful design features include the frameless windows so even though the doors are long, getting in and out in tight spaces can be made easier by lowering the window. Nicely understated too are the black callipers on the heavy-duty vented discs.

And the overall cockpit presentation is spot-on — some would say the RCZ's cabin is classier than that of an Audi TT, and that alone makes it good enough to clinch the deal for those smitten by the RCZ's near-exotic looks.

The dramatic arching side windows and double-bubble roofline are guaranteed to get heads turning so much so that there's now a recognised condition suffered by rubber-neckers called RCZ-lash. Not really. But there should be! With its swoopy styling, and in 200 GT spec, the RCZ is a very desirable filly; one that you'll enjoy driving solo.

An automatic rear spoiler adds to its purposeful look and the fact than it can be manually raised at any time by the driver will, rightly or wrongly, appeal to many eager to up their street cred.

Anything to watch out for? Yes, keep a watchful eye on your speed you'll swear you were only doing seventy but in reality it's quite likely you'll be on the wrong side of 'the ton'. Apart from that, bon chance!

There's no way we wouldn't have one in our garage tomorrow: not only is the 200bhp RCZ an entertaining, hands-on drive but it makes a practical and spacious grand tourer for two. And, for those who appreciate the value of something as opposed to the cost, at 26K it's oh-so-justifiable. — MotorBar

Peugeot RCZ GT THP 200 | 25,945
Maximum speed: 146mph | 0-62mph: 7.6 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 36.4mpg
Power: 200bhp | Torque: 206lb ft | CO2 159g/km