PEUGEOT should be happy with its RCZ.
Designed basically to be the coupe version of the 308 hatchback, it spawned into something more magnificent. The RCZ has won so many awards that Peugeot might need a warehouse to store all the trophies. In many developed countries, RCZ is priced slightly cheaper than the Audi TT and the likes. Here in Malaysia, the RCZ is half the price of a TT, and that makes a lot of difference because looks wise, the RCZ is in the same par as the German car (design wise that is).
We drove the automatic version earlier on and came away quite frustrated with the performance. It has a high level of grip and the chassis could take on our neck snapping cornering but there was simply not enough power to really push it to the maximum. With 156bhp and 200Nm, it felt slightly quicker than the pedestrian 308 Turbo hatchback driven by your next door uncle. Apparently, the automatic one is designed for the ladies, or those who love to stroll along high street with their windows down.
For the real drivers like you and me, it will have to be the manual version. Peugeot seems to agree as the manual gets the same engine but power has been allowed to reach 200bhp while torque is now at 275Nm. Internally, we failed to see any differences. The steering wheel has a nice RCZ emblem at the bottom part of it, just in case you can’t remember what car you are driving. The gear lever has a nice alloy top, and it looks good in picture and feels good in your palm.
Both front seats get electric controls but the driver’s get an added memory function. Premium luxury Nappa leather hugs your body well and for added pleasure, Nasim (Peugeot’s caretaker here) has ticked the JBL Hi-Fi system as standard item. The sound quality is so good, even dangdut songs become bearable. Rear quarters are strictly for kids, or pets, or friends you hate. Even with children, it is not advisable to have them seated there during the day because the rear windscreen goes right above them, exposing them to direct sunlight.
The boot is really big for a fancy car like the RCZ. It swallowed everything with room to spare. Bachelors who own this car will have a gala time filling it up. Other features that are worth mentioning include the 19-inch Onyx Black Sortilege alloys, Dynamic Rear Wing (the pop up spoiler), dynamic Xenon headlights (worked well during our midnight runs) and the sensors that automatically activates the headlights when it is dark and the wipers when it rains. Safety wise, there are front and side airbags, active bonnet system (the hood will pop up to cushion pedestrian it hits), the usual acronyms like ESP, ABS, EBD, EBA, ASR and DSC.
On the road is where this French cat shines.
Hitting maximum torque as low as 1,700Nm can do a lot of things, usually a smile wider than the Joker’s. Adding to this is the Sound Technology feature that actually opens up some valves and allows the engine to come out a sporty exhaust note. The sound is still far from the V12 wail of a Ferrari but it surely does sound good for a four-pot engine.
Going around the corners, we could sense the grip it offered and for a front-wheel drive, it surely felt surefooted. The steering might not be the best but it did give us a fair amount of feedback while going around the curves. Lane change was also done in confidence, and that fact plus the torquey nature of the engine made overtaking a simple and safe affair.We do however hope the gear is less baulky and the clutch, we were told Peugeot’s manual clutches are designed to have the biting point way up. We had to practically raise our left foot to actuate the clutch, reminding us of a lorry. Luckily, it did not hamper the fact that this RCZ was a driver’s car, to show that his testicles were as big as his claims.
Hauling it down back to safety would be the 302mm front rotors and the 290mm rear ones. They felt a bit “grabby” at first but once accustomed, we had no issue with its performance. Around town, the suspension actually was able to soak up the potholes and all rather well. We thought a car that handled this well would have a suspension setting harder than the Mini. The RCZ offered a higher level of comfort than the German Mini and we had no problem driving it long distance.
Nasim is asking RM223,888 (OTR with insurance) for the RCZ Manual. Sounds steep but at that price, what else have a more exciting design and can offer a true sports car driving experience?
Engine: Twin Scroll Turbo High Pressure (THP), direct petrol injection, DOHC 16V with VVT and VVL.
Performance: 200bhp@5500rpm; 275Nm@1700rpm; 0-100kmh in 7.5 seconds; top speed 237kmh; fuel consumption (combined) 6.9L/100km
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Price: RM223,888 OTR with insurance