PEUGEOT RCZ REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Performance coupe
Fuel Economy (claimed): 6.9 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 11.3 l/100km
As a performance car, the Peugeot RCZ M is outshone by hot hatches costing thousands of dollars less.
But it's one heck of a head-turner, and is without doubt one of the most beautiful cars available for under $60,000.
Quality: The RCZ's interior is a step above most in the Peugeot stable, with a leather-wrapped dashboard and chrome-ringed instruments lending a premium ambience to the cabin.
There's a lot of switchgear carry-over from the 308, but on the whole the RCZ's interior is a very nice habitat for driver and passenger.
Comfort: The electrically-adjustable front seats are nicely upholstered in leather. They provide decent lateral and under-thigh support, as well as adjustable lumbar support and seat heaters.
The steering column is adjustable for reach and rake. The steering wheel is set closer to the driver than in other Peugeot models, allowing for a more natural seating position.
The back seats are strictly for young children – exceptionally tolerant ones at that. A shortage of legroom and headroom coupled with a near-vertical backrest makes them all but uninhabitable for adults.
Equipment: As standard, the RCZ M is equipped with a six-speaker stereo with CD, USB, auxiliary and Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control/speed-limiter, dual-zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps, foglamps, front and rear parking sensors and 18 inch alloy wheels.
Our tester was equipped with the optional 19-inch alloys.
Storage: For a sports coupe, the RCZ has a surprisingly useful boot. Measuring in at 384 litres the boot can swallow a generous amount of luggage. The back seats also fold forward to create a handy 760 litre cargo area.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The RCZ's 147kW 1.6 litre turbo inline four is pinched straight from the MINI Cooper S, and is just as enjoyable in the Pug as it is in the Cooper.
Punchy mid-range torque (the full 279Nm is available from just 1700rpm) produces respectable acceleration: the RCZ's 7.5 second 0-100km sprint time is nothing to sneeze at.
Torque delivery is also flexible enough for the RCZ to be poked along at low rpm around town without snatching or complaint.
The gear selector for the six-speed manual can be a little baulky at times, but the short throw is satisfyingly sporty and the clutch is easy to use.
Refinement: The 19-inch alloys produce a harsh ride over poor quality roads and the RCZ's suspension set-up is fairly firm. Low-profile Continental tyres transmit a lot of road noise too, but at least there's little in the way of wind noise.
Suspension: The RCZ surprises with its agility and high level of grip. And while the firm suspension compromises comfort, the payoff is a chassis that handles corners with confidence. It’s a very sharp and rapid steer on a winding road.
Braking: 302mm front rotors are teamed with 290mm rear rotors, and do a good job of slowing the 1370kg RCZ. There is a bit too much initial ‘bite’ on the brake pedal though.
ANCAP rating: Not rated
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, Emergency Brake Assist, EBD, Traction Control are all standard. Front and front side airbags provide protection for occupants, along with three-point seatbelts on all seats.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: three-year / 100,000km warranty.
Service costs: Service intervals are every 12 months or 20,000km. Minor services are priced at $475, major services at $761.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Audi TT 1.8 TFSI ($64,500) – The TT loses a bit of shine next to the glamorous RCZ, not to mention it’s almost ten grand pricier. Its 1.8 litre engine manages 3kW more than the RCZ's 1.6, but is down 20Nm.
The Audi's interior is definitely the more impressive of the two though.
BMW 125i Coupe ($55,600) – With a sweet naturally-aspirated 3.0 litre inline six and a superb RWD chassis, the 125i is a joy to drive.
Usable rear seats are a bonus too, but the demure 1 Series will never turn as many heads as the RCZ. (see 1 Series reviews)
Nissan 370Z ($68,640) – The 370Z's design is more masculine than the RCZ and its 245kW/363Nm 3.8 litre V6 endows it with a far more impressive turn of speed.
It's a decidedly uncompromised sports car though, and has a smaller cabin and luggage area than the Peugeot, not to mention a much heftier price-tag. (see 370Z reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
For styling alone, the RCZ will easily find favour among fashion-conscious buyers. But, unlike many 'image cars', the RCZ can more than hold its own on a twisting mountain road and is a genuine pocket-sized performance coupe.
Both beautiful and athletic, the RCZ is also very good value. Its flaws are relatively few, but we do recommend sticking with the standard 18-inch wheels (rather than the harsher 19-inch alloys) if the roads in your area are particularly poor.