The Peugeot RCZ-R deserved a lot more credit than we gave it
Driven a while ago but I'm only writing about it now because reasons
A couple of years ago, before the whole world hit pause, I got in touch with Peugeot Italia and asked if I could borrow the RCZ-R for a swan song-style review. The head of PR, a guy I’ve known for some time, said “the what?”. “The RCZ-R” I said, “the sports coupe” . “Ah” he said, “that one. Yes. We’ve still got one, on its way out". “I’ll take it” I said .
I went to Milan, grabbed the car and because I like testing cars in the real world, in everyday situations, I immediately rang up Tall Girl, she knows I occasionally drive cars that aren’t mine. "I've got a new car. Coffee later?" I asked. "What is it this time?" she replied. “It’s a white Peugeot” I said. "When are you supposed to give it back?" she asked. I said "Never. Maybe. They didn't even remember they had it. And I love it."
The RCZ was first launched in April 2010, it feels like yesterday but, thanks to the ferociously strict emission rules currently in place, 2010 is actually a geological era ago in car terms. The original RCZ appeared to have been designed by a craftsman with talent but not much time. Then, with the face-lifted version in 2012, it went from nice to properly gorgeous. It's low, wide, coupe-ish, hunkered down. A lot of people say that it kinda looks like the Audi TT but that's a bit like saying that Reno kinda looks like Las Vegas.
The RCZ is, or rather was, available with both diesel and a petrol engines, with various power output possibilities ranging from 156 to 270 hp. The RCZ-R I drove is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol putting out 270 and 243 torques, and it comes with a power-to-weight ratio of 4,7 kg/hp because the kerb weight is only 1,280 kg. It's properly quick. The way it builds up speed is amazing and because it's relatively lightweight, it is also incredibly economical. The performance-to-fuel efficiency ratio is positively surprising.
It is also very comfortable. The seats feel and look like they've trimmed from a dense block of foam and then upholstered in leather. The sat-nav disappears into the dashboard and there's a proper old manual, and a proper old manual handbrake as well. And then there's a beautiful bubbleback-style domed glass behind you.
The reason why the head of PR didn't even remember they had it is that it didn't really sell that well and the model they had as part of their press fleet survived several rounds of turnover because it simply didn't have enough miles under its belt. And that's a shame.
Most modern cars are good, they're safe and well-equipped, but they're also a bit boring. The RCZ-R isn't boring. It comes with the heart of a lion, the range of a camel and a huuuge spoiler at the rear. It depreciated like crazy, which means you can buy it for good money and if you can, you should because it's a good little car. Heck, while you're at it, you may even be tempted to get the diesel one.