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2013 Peugeot RCZ Automatic Snapshot Review Photo:
2013 Peugeot RCZ - Australia Photo:
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What's Hot
Head-turning good looks, sharp handling, no surcharge for automatic.
What's Not
Automatic 1.6 turbo is weak, interior fails basic rules of ergonomics.
X-Factor
Shapely and stylish, but steer clear of the slushbox.
Tony O'Kane | Jul, 16 2013 | 6 Comments

2013 PEUGEOT RCZ REVIEW

Vehicle Style: Coupe
Engine/trans: 115kW/240Nm 1.6 turbo petrol 4cyl | 6sp automatic
Price: $58,990 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.3 l/100kml/100km | Tested: 8.4 l/100km

 

OVERVIEW

Peugeot has tweaked the RCZ coupe for 2013, adding new equipment, wheels, bumpers and trim; and a new price - up by $4000.

It’s still as shapely as ever, but a question mark hangs over the auto model and its modest power - de-tuned markedly compared to the manual.

So, does the driving experience of this model, the one likely to be the top seller, match up to the RCZ’s sporty exterior? More importantly, is it worth shelling out $60k for?

NOTE: This is a 'snapshot' review of the Peugeot RCZ. See our RCZ page for more news and reviews.

 

THE INTERIOR

It’s an attractive interior, but, sadly, an ergonomic mess.

Significant wheelarch intrusion means the pedal cluster is shifted to the left of the footwell, and the position of the steering column relative to the pedals is all wrong.

There’s also not enough reach adjustment to the steering. As a result, you either have to endure a straight-armed posture while driving, or bend the knees uncomfortably in order to relax your elbows.

The centre stack is also raked too far forward. It puts the radio controls at the top of the stack; a little too far to be comfortably operated from the driver’s seat.

However, a stubby paddle behind the steering wheel at least allows easy control of the audio system.

There are other issues as well. The only cupholder in the centre console is so shallow that it refuses to keep any decently-sized bottle upright.

As for passenger comfort, the front seats don’t give quite enough lateral support for a sports model, and the slabby, upright back seats are strictly for occasional use.

 

ON THE ROAD

Things are much better once you start the conversation with the road.

The way the RCZ handles will put a smile on the face of any enthusiast. Huge grip in corners and a fast, weighty steering rack make it a joy to hustle through tight switchbacks.

And it sits as flat as a tack with almost a complete lack of body roll.

However, the powertrain/drivetrain combo lags far behind the chassis when it comes to performance.

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While the manual RCZ petrol enjoys a healthy 147kW of power and 250Nm of torque, the automatic’s 1.6 turbo four-pot is detuned to a distinctly unspectacular 115kW and 240Nm - and it feels all the weaker for it.

Throttle response is mushy from just off idle, and although the engine makes an appealingly fizzy note as it rises through its rev range, its bark definitely does not match its bite.

The six-speed automatic is fine for commuting, but in manual mode it feels anything but sporty.

Slow gearchanges, no paddle shifters and a plus-minus manual shift arrangement that’s arse-about (pull to downshift..? C’mon, why can’t we get agreement here?) all conspire to sap the fun out of the RCZ.

It actually works better when left in “D”. Stamp on the throttle and the trans will resolutely stick to a lower gear, keeping the engine nicely on the boil.

The reasonable torque figure means that there’s a half-decent turn of speed when hooking out of a corner, but it’s nowhere near as lively or as much fun as the manual.

The sporty suspension tune means that ride comfort is compromised (and at odds with the character of the more leisurely automatic).

The RCZ’s rock-hard suspension confers great grip, but it comes at the cost of compliance. Prepare your coccyx: it’s a rough ride.

NOTE: This is a 'snapshot' review of the Peugeot RCZ. See our RCZ page for more news and reviews.

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

There are better performing two-door coupes out there, and for fewer dollars too.

The Opel Astra OPC, Renault Megane RS265 and Volkswagen Scirocco R are all more enjoyable to drive and have bona-fide performance credentials to their name.

They also cost vastly less than the Peugeot RCZ, with the $47,990 Scirocco being the priciest.

But one thing the RCZ has over those hot-hatches is style. It’s got it by the bucketload, and it never fails to turn heads.

Whether that suits your needs is for you to determine.

But if you see an RCZ in your future, our advice is to pick the far more fulfilling manual variant. It costs the same as the auto, but it’s a much better car.

 

Pricing (excludes on-road costs)

All three models in the 2013 RCZ range are priced at $58,990, plus on-road costs.

Peugeot has also confirmed that its extra-hot RCZ-R will hit Australia early next year, offering around 185kW. Pricing is still to be confirmed.

 
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