Intro: Worthy of its reputation
Its a longstanding tradition, since the 205 GTI in the 1980s, that Peugeot has a little hot hatch in its range. The GTI badge is no more. That was followed by the 206 S16, but now most cars have 16 valves, so thats no big thing. Peugeots new badge is RC. Weve had the 206 RC, and now we have the 207 RC.
Theres a sporty feel to the interior, with aluminium pedals and gear knob. The dials on the dash have chrome surrounds with chequered black inserts, and of course there are the huge bucket seats. Nothing revolutionary so far, but it all works well, and the materials used are of high quality. Its an interior designed to appeal to the driver.
As for the outside, its well measured. The chassis has been lowered and the wheel arches widened. Theres a spoiler on the roof and there are 17 inch pitlane alloy wheels. Peugeot just needs to give the same treatment to some of its more powerful diesel engines now... The result of all this is that the 207 RC is more elegant than aggressive.
The features that really set the RC apart from other special editions are the Audi-style aluminium mirrors, the double chrome exhaust, tinted rear window and the RC logo found on the back.
Motorization: A new turbo
The changes are more radical under the bonnet. The 2 litre naturally aspirated Lotus engine has gone, replaced by a 1.6 turbo built with BMW.
On the road: Solid
The engine is pleasantly surprising from the outset. At 175bhp, it has lost a dozen or so horses, and also picked up 130kg compared with the 206 RC. But it responds surprisingly well, thanks to 240Nm of torque from 1500rpm. Top speed is 260km/h thanks to an overboost system. And the fuel consumption isnt all that bad, either.
Not much to say about the brakes. They have to be worked pretty hard before there is any danger of a reduction in their efficiency.
As for the handling, Peugeots reputation holds true. The steering is precise, the suspension is firm while remaining comfortable enough for every day use. The front axle handles the torque extremely well. Its pretty tricky to force the traction-contorl into action, even if you accelerate hard out of a tight corner.
It would all be perfect if Peugeot had just got the gearbox right.
While the Mini Cooper S, which has the same engine, gets a 6-speed Getrag gearbox, Peuegot has opted for its 5-speed BE box. The long steps between gears just dont work well, and to top it all off, the reinforced clutch isnt really up to the job. Theres no real point changing down to the long first gear when second doe sthe job on most occasions.
Peugeot would have done so much better to save money elsewhere...on some of the many driver aids, for example. The quality of the chassis is so good that they really arent needed...