The French have pulled off a blinder with RCZ, reckons The Fast Lane's Tim J Morris
Ask any group of serious 'petrol heads' how thrilled they'd be about the prospect of driving a Peugeot and the odds are that you wouldn't usually get an excited response... But I've been conducting a little research of my own with Peugeot's new RCZ and I am now proud to reveal the findings...
After carefully observing the reactions and comments of 6 different petrol heads from diverse backgrounds and varying geographical locations, whilst driving this car, TFL's research concludes that there is only one possible solution left open to Peugeot's competitors if they wish to prevent people from getting excited about the RCZ... And that is to cut off their goulies!!!
Yes, you heard me... Whip off the goulies.... Because if you don't then the RCZ is likely to prove to be a real threat to Peugeot's competitors as it has an unusual appeal to red blooded males in particular...
The RCZ is the first Peugeot to deliver a new brand identity for a very long time, adding an exciting sports model to the manufacturer's more sensible range.
It's been developed to be deliberately distinctive and incorporates a number of innovative design features. These include the 'double bubble roof' and an active rear spoiler to assist with the cars aerodynamics. The original concept drawings for the car were amazing and I'm delighted to say that most of the original wow factor has made it through to the production car.
Speaking honestly, I would say that this is the most exciting Peugeot that I've ever driven... It's great fun to drive and it looks stunning... It's like one of those concept cars designed for futuristic movies like 'Minority Report', or 'I Robot'...
The only problem is that it does look a little like an Audi TT... Actually, quite a lot like an Audi TT... In fact, when the car was delivered, I was adamant that they'd brought the wrong one as I was expecting an altogether more sensible Peugeot. That said, the RCZ's styling does it's job well and it certainly turns heads!
Now, granted, the car that I was given was not the base model and with all the extras fitted it could be valued at almost £30,000 but it was seriously tooled up...
The alloy wheels are worth an award in their own right, while the pop up rear spoiler compliments the sporty appeal. The aluminium trim, double bubble roof and curved rear window all help to create a car that is a real talking point, which is this car's primary purpose.
On The Road
Taking 7.6 seconds to reach 60mph, the RCZ is not what you would term 'fast off the mark' and it won't breach the 150 barrier at the top end but it is precise, comfortable and it sounds awesome...
A vibrating membrane within an acoustic chamber of the exhaust delivers different harmonics according to the rate of acceleration. As a result, the RCZ sounds particularly 'mean'!
It's only a 1.6 litre engine but it loves to be revved, develops 200 bhp and gives you great mid-range pull. Not only that, but it will also return a combined fuel cycle of around 40 mpg which gives it a practical advantage over many of its rivals.
The RCZ features a range of cool electronics to compliment the driving experience, including xenon headlamps that turn with the steering to give you greater visibility on sweeping bends.
Road / wind noise can be a little intrusive at speed but soon gets drowned out by that rampant exhaust!
Other journalists have argued that this feature may be a little too loud and irritating but it should be noted that there are many other models to choose from if you want a Peugeot that doesn't have much to say for itself in the exhaust department... Get over it boys!
Well, the navigation system is extremely clever, updating traffic conditions in real-time and offering you the option to re-route. Unfortunately however it has a tendency to sound like an android that's been rodgered by a Dalek and it's often late with directions, telling you to take a half left turn just as you're passing it...
Back seats... Well they're non existent and useless if you're over 10! It has an engine with a typically tinny Peugeot tick at idle and it has proximity sensors that bleep loudly every time you come near an obstacle... Which can be really annoying in a car park!
In a certain light, the contour of the 'double bubble' roof does bring to mind the unfortunate image of a builders bum protruding above a low waistline as he bends over and the driving position becomes extremely uncomfortable if you have to accommodate rear passengers.
The car's price may be an issue for many and its resemblance to an Audi TT does take the edge of its originality. It is of course less muscular in the power department than a TT too, which may lead to it being regarded as a more feminine vehicle.
As the RCZ is being marketed as a more masculine car than other sporty Peugeot models, it could be a real kick in the bum to have it dubbed 'another car for hairdressers'.
This is a relatively expensive car as Peugeot's go and it has innovative looks that may date quickly...
It is however great fun to drive, reasonably comfortable, (unless you're stupid enough to get into the back), pretty economical and it goes incredibly well for a 1.6 litre petrol, with a wonderful exhaust tone to match.
It also looks great and employs Peugeot's 'tried and tested' mechanicals, so it should prove pretty reliable.
Basically, this could be the best idea in the French car giant's history since the Peugeot brothers said to their mummy, 'we're moving out, buying a mill and going into making steel, can you pack us a couple of baguettes and our teddies'?
A great new direction... Well done Peugeot!