Peugeot RCZ

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Peugeot RCZ

Road Test

Peugeot RCZ driven

Driven April 2013

Additional Info

The thing with midlife facelifts is that they can often go awry. Some designer gets a bit heavy-handed, and, before you know it, the car's become a caricature of itself. Luckily, Peugeot had the foresight to make a hash of the original RCZ, so all they've had to do is put that right.

Not a total hash, you understand. No, it was just the grille, a gaping great maw filled out with a boxer's gumshield of a bumper. Now there's a much more acceptable two-tier arrangement, upper and lower separated by a slice of body colour. And that's it. All is aligned. You can forget about the old one's conk and focus on what a handsome, uniquely proportioned coupe this is.

And that's almost all you need to know about this facelift, one plucked straight from the colour/trim/kit school of cost-effective upgrades. You can now have the roof arches in matt black, leather and Alcantara upholstery can be added to the base Sport model (for £1,200), while the higher-spec GT, as opted for by 80 per cent of buyers, is available with brown leather. Thrills.

However, this is a car worth taking another look at. The temptation is to imagine it as another ordinary continental coupe, more style than content. But the RCZ does feel sports car-ish. The ride is firm but not jarringly so, and it has responsive steering and good turn-in. It's quite eager and backed up by an engine that's way more punchy than its 1.6-litre displacement suggests. It even sounds vaguely enticing.

The manual gearbox is tight and sharp, and this is a satisfying car to punt around in. The gearing's a bit low and noise a fraction high, just taking the edge off refinement, while comfort is slightly compromised by a flat, firm seat that's mounted too high in the car. We don't go a bundle on the bulbous steering wheel, either. But it's a light, airy cabin with good visibility and reasonable practicality. It's a two-seater, though - the back's not for humans.

Prices start at £21,595 for the 156bhp petrol Sport, with this hot 197bhp GT as the flagship. There's also a 161bhp, 2.0-litre diesel from £23,430. Personally, I'm not sure GT trim is worth the mark-up - the pokiest engine in Sport trim at £23,980 looks the best deal to me. Oh, and the hot 256bhp RCZ R? Not here until the end of the year. Boo.

Ollie Marriage

The numbers
1598cc, 4cyl, FWD, 197bhp, 206lb ft, 42.1mpg, 155g/km CO2, 0-62mph in 7.6secs, 146mph, 1421kg

The verdict
Vastly improved front-end treatment takes care of our only real criticism. Not wonderfully charismatic, but a more enticing driver's car than you might think.

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