Matt Master16 March 2010

Driven: Peugeot RCZ

TT-rivalling Sports Coupe is a Peugeot you'd actually want to own

Peugeot RCZ

In the land of the tepid hatch, the pseudo-supercar is king. Peugeot's RCZ Sports Coupe may just be 308 in a dress, but it's an immensely sexy dress that men like us would quite like to wear.

Where Audi forged a path with the lukewarm TT, Peugeot is following with the RCZ, a fantastic looking car based on a fairly ordinary platform. This is all about style rather than performance, a car that is meant to deliver on a whole ownership package rather than simply scaring you, and your insurers, into an early grave.

With that in mind, take in the scarcely believable lines of the thing, a mix of show car curves and mid-engine sports car menace. That double-bubble roof actually blends into the swoopy rear glass, the sort of thing people simply couldn't do on a production car until now. It's an eyeful of top shelf automotive styling the likes of which it normally costs Ferrari-money to get your hands on. But the top spec RCZ is £25,050.

On the move, things are less remarkable. Peugeot's 200bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre unit offers just enough to make the RCZ lively, but it never feels genuinely fast. Not even a fruity exhaust note can dial up the drama in car that really has put show before go.

As if to underline this point, Peugeot is offering a complicated and seemingly unnecessary range of styling options at the point of sale, like racing stripes, carbon details and black alloys, all of which we think detract from the basic beauty of the thing. Keep it simple, and you have a classy rival to the new Audi TT and VW Scirocco. Muck about with it and you will look like a tit.

So it's very pretty, and it should be fairly economical to run, but it's also a Peugeot. Can they seriously pull it off? Read the full story (and see some lovely shots) in the April issue of Top Gear magazine, on sale 26 March in a special lime green bag with a free DVD.

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