What is it?
Peugeot’s call to arms – a last gasp for creative freedom in an attempt to stave off the inevitable decline brought about by its dreary line-up. And you know what? It works. The RCZ is a welcome shot in the arm to the company’s comatose body, a beautifully styled and cool two-door coupe to rival the TT. Even cooler for 2013: it’s been facelifted, with the old 308-style nose replaced by something more suitably distanced from its donor.
A wide track and accurate steering means you can make swift, enjoyable progress up a winding road. Only problem is, there’s an artificial feel to the steering that detaches you somewhat from the experience. Not that you’ll mind too much. It feels more like a warm French hatch than a cooking coupe, but you’ll be delighted at its balance, light controls and the overall sense that it isn’t a total disaster. It still feels quick, and you get a choice of three power options – a 1.6-litre petrol in 156bhp and 200bhp guise, along with a 2.0-litre diesel with 163bhp and a highly agreeable 240lb ft of torque.
That four-pot oil burner also returns an average of 53.2mpg and emits 137g/km of CO2, making it an excellent economy buy. Sure, in a coupe with looks like this – and because you’re reading this magazine – you’ll veer towards the 200bhp petrol. That boosts you to 62mph in 7.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 146mph, all the time providing a rorty and rather impressive exhaust note while you’re getting busy.
On the inside
Good things first – it’s got a big boot for a coupe. 309 litres, in fact, bigger than both the Scirocco’s and TT. Space up front is perfectly adequate for reasonably sized homo sapiens, and its generally a nice cabin environment. That huge rear glass allows a lot of light in and build quality is good. But it’s essentially a 308, and although Peugeot calls the rear seats ‘occasional’, we’d call them ‘farcical’. Headroom is limited and you’d struggle to fit all your body parts in one sitting. And no, you can’t ride in the boot.
The 200bhp version is £23,980, which, for something that looks like this, is pretty good value for money. It’s still cheaper than an equivalent Audi TT – by about three grand – but that’s a different bag of onions altogether. Unfortunately, it’s around the same price as Vee-Dub’s ‘Roc. Ahem. Still, since it pinches oily bits from the snooze-fest that is the 308, running costs are decent, and even with the 1.6 petrol you’re still looking at 42.8mpg. The broader range of styling options with the facelift helps buyers make it more bespoke, too.