Eye candy or serious sports coupe – or a bit of both? The lowdown on the Peugeot RCZ R…
There’s no doubt that the RCZ R is a very attractive car. Streamlined with that distinctive double bubble roof, it turns heads.
Based on the “standard” RCZ but given a serious makeover by Peugeot’s specialist motorsports arm, Peugeot Sport, the R has a more aggressive look, thanks to a lowered ride height, rear spoiler, side skirts and bigger 19-inch wheels.
On paper it’s capable of an impressive (restricted) 155mph and can reach 62mph in 5.9 seconds.
Anyway, despite all that extra turbocharged power, the RCZ R is more frugal and greener than the RCZ with 44.8mpg possible and C02 emissions of 145 g/km – an improvement of 10g/km.
Open the large driver’s door, slip into the cockpit and it all feels good – at first. The red-stitched sports seats have plenty of adjustment, but the steering wheel only adjusts for rake, not reach.
Try as I might, I couldn’t find the perfect driving position, which is a shame because the seats are comfortable, while the dashboard and centre console look the part with large dials. I especially liked the distinctive analogue clock in the middle of the centre console, while the 7-inch multimedia screen magically pops up above the clock and air vents giving you access to audio, sat nav, hand-free phone etc.
However, you need exceptionally long arms to reach the centre console and touchscreen which means you’re forever reaching forward with your left arm.
Press the start button and the potent engine fires up, emitting a suitably sporty baritonal rasp.
Pull away and the power is immediately obvious. It’s also clear that there’s something very clever going on because, thanks to a limited slip differential system and big tyres. there’s a lot of grip up front.
Mated to a slick 6-speed manual gearbox, the RCZ R offers a sporty, fun drive without being scarily quick. However, it’s deceptive and you can hit the legal speed limit faster than you think, so beware.
It corners well with minimum body lean, though some may find the ride a tad on the hard side, especially on rougher road surfaces.
On longer journeys that sporty exhaust note becomes more of a persistent boom, which may not be to everyone’s taste either.
Even though it’s technically a 2+2, very small children would struggle to fit in the rear. That said, it’s the same story on the much newer Audi TT, so par for the course. On the plus side, the boot is big, if a little shallow, and it’s even more impressive if you fold the rear seats down.
The RCZ feels safe – the brakes are excellent, it’s solidly built and it’s equipped with dynamic stability control, plus Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Emergency Brake Assist and Intelligent Traction Control – a hi-tech anti-skid system.
I may well have been able to get close to the claimed 44.4mpg if I hadn’t been enjoying myself so much at the wheel, despite my issues, but I’d say 30-35mpg is more real world (still impressive given the amount of power on tap).
So if you’re looking for a distinctive fun, fast coupe with a touch of French flair, the RCZR could be for you. If you do go for it, opt for Moroccan Red – a rich colour that gives the car even more kerb appeal – if that’s possible.
In terms of looks, it’s most obvious rival is the Audi TT, but there’s also the VW Scirocco, Nissan 370Z and Toyota GT86. As for price? The Peugeot RCZ R costs from £32,250.