When I was growing up, metrosexuality was an alien concept. We idolised the Marlboro man and our heroes were men who believed in showing off the hair on their chest. A decade down the millennium, things have changed. Pink is in and men are getting their bodies waxed, manicured, pedicured and what not. If this wasn’t enough, the whole metrosexual revolution also penetrated other things related to ‘man’kind. Bacardi Breezers replaced single malts, golf with associates seemed much cooler than a soccer match with buddies and pubs became places for mere commoners. It also filtered down to cars. Scary, if you still have a Marlboro poster in your wall and worship Land Rover Defenders.
These days, there is no dearth of stylish cars to catch your fancy. Car designers are busy penning designs that get you noticed wherever you go. The Peugeot RCZ is one such car. It hails from the land where fashion is a religion. It feels like it has been designed by a fashion designer in Paris, for himself. But does it appeal to real men or is it just another runabout for the elite chicks? I, for once, was quite smitten by the styling. It’s fluid and very attractive.
It’s low and wide stance has some supercar exoticness. The arched roofline has a hint of Audi R8. The longish rear also gives an illusion of it being mid-engined. The bubble roof adds muscular hues and there is even a pop-up spoiler. Turn to the front and this is where the style is more evident. It has a familiar Peugeot face – a sloping bonnet, big lower grille and raked headlamps. No doubt it’s good looking but I found it a bit girly.
The gorgeous looks of the car have a down side too. Don’t take me otherwise, but you wouldn’t want to be seen driving one in your jeans and tee. We’re talking pink shirt, white jacket, a flashy watch and Todds loafers here. The car deserves nothing less. Open the large, frameless doors and you know what I’m talking about.
The interiors are well appointed and tastefully done. The dash is wrapped in leather and so is the centre console. There are brushed aluminium accents, even on the chunky, leather wrapped steering wheel. You sit closer to the ground and the seats are supportive. There is a roomy feel to the cabin. There are seats behind but let’s not get there. The RCZ is a sports coupe and as long as you think of it as a two-seater, you’ll enjoy the space inside.
With its lustrous exterior and suave innards, its more than half the battle won for the RCZ. So, would I buy it? No. Metrosexuality isn’t the only byproduct of modernism. Among many others is efficiency and this seems to be the buzzword among the eco-friendly people who choose engines for cars. The RCZ is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre inline four. You have two options to choose – the 156bhp version with a six-speed automatic gearbox and a 200bhp variant with a manual ’box. The latter can be found under the hood of a Mini Cooper S as well.
Unless you go for the 200bhp manual, don’t expect fireworks from the RCZ. 156bhp is a lot of power, but the automatic gearbox is a bit of a let down. The gear ratios are tall and kill the feel you want out of a sports coupe. This isn’t a twin clutch gearbox and hence shifts aren’t lightening quick. Try the manual override and the gearbox refuses to shift down till it gets a sanction from the ECU.
Where the RCZ excels is in its handling and road holding prowess. The steering is precisely weighted and very talkative. The suspension has just the right stiffness and this makes it really chuckable round corners. During my stint with the car, I had just been thinking how much fun the 200bhp manual car would be. This car has a capable chassis and yearns for more power.
If you’re hooked on to the RCZ, I would strongly recommend the manual. Let ladies buy the automatic. Be a man, work the stick (and the extra 44 horses) and the RCZ has got the potential. Starting from RM223,888 (OTR, with insurance), the manual is RM5,000 more expensive than the automatic on test here. And of course, you’ll have to be well groomed so factor in a wardrobe upgrade as well, but it’s worth all the money. It’s a charming car that is fun to drive.
We like: Chic looks, great handling
We don’t like: The lazy automatic gearbox
The verdict: A fashion statement on four wheels. Go for the 200bhp manual if you want some serious fun.
Tech: 1.6-litre, turbocharged, 4cyl, FWD, 156bhp, 240Nm
Price: RM218,888 (Automatic), RM223,888 (Manual) onwards