The Peugeot RCZ coupé was released in 2009 and helped replenish the brand with some much needed sportiness since the days of the Peugeot 205 GTi back in the 80s. It was designed to be the company’s halo model, a car that is not aimed at selling in volumes but serves as a brand building exercise.
The RCZ has just been given a mid-life update with more equipment but a corresponding price rise. The 2013 model jumps $4,000 to start at $58,990. Peugeot justifies this by saying the car has been fitted with extra gear valued at $5,800.
With better equipment and a fresh styling touch up, is the 2013 Peugeot RCZ a good alternative to the Audi TT? Read on to find out.
Design and Comfort
Almost unchanged from the concept that was first revealed in 2007, the RCZ is no doubt a very stylish coupé and better looking than the Aud TT.
Its head turning supercar looks stems from a low slung body with a perfect blend of bold lines and sexy curves. This is accompanied by a redesigned front end featuring Peugeot’s new ‘floating’ grille, LED daytime running lights and new headlights with a titanium surround. 19-inch wheels are also now standard.
Perhaps the most striking design on the RCZ is the wavy, double-bubble roof and rear windscreen, sandwiched between two thick sweeping roof rails, now finished in matte black rather than polished aluminium. There is no shortage of cool exquisite touches such as the active rear spoiler, indicators on the wing mirror supports and the golf ball-like dimpled windscreen wiper arms.
In the looks department, the RCZ has got it nailed. It oozes style no cars in this price range can match.
The interior is also first class with full leather upholstery on the upper dash and door trims. There are some nice touches such as the classy analogue clock in the fascia and the chrome surrounds on the dials. Although not as well built as the Audi TT, the RCZ’s snug cockpit feels more special and you get the sensation that you are sitting inside the car, not on it.
The RCZ is a 2+2, but only by name. The body hugging sports seats up front are comfortable and provide great support. But the rear seats are tiny with very little leg and headroom, making the RCZ realistically a two-seater.
Boot space is good with 384 litres and thanks to the large boot lid which allows for easy access, it’s quite functional too. If more space is needed, the rear seats can be folded to expand the space to 760 litres.
Performance and Handling
The Peugeot RCZ comes in two versions of the direct-injected 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a 2.0-litre turbo diesel. For the petrol engines, the manual RCZ gets the more powerful version with 147 kW and 275 Nm of torque, while the auto RCZ (tested here) misses out on variable valve timing on the exhaust outlet and churns out 115 kW and 240 Nm of torque. The diesel is rated at 120 kW and 340 Nm and is only available with a manual transmission.
Although 32 kW down on the manual version, the auto RCZ is still good fun. The engine is smooth and delivers good performance. Usable torque is available from as low as 2,000 rpm and stays strong throughout the rev range before losing breath above 5,500 rpm. It’s no hot hatch pace but the auto RCZ is still quick. It feels that way too with a deep sounding exhaust note.
Peugeot’s claim of 8.4 seconds for the 0-100 km/h dash sounds achievable as we managed to record our best time of 8.6 seconds, in non-ideal condition. On the other hand, the manual is almost a second quicker on paper at 7.5 seconds.
On country B-roads, the RCZ’s handling is admirable. We like how the suspension setup is firm but not harsh to give a very sporty feel but retaining a thin layer of comfort. Around the corners, the RCZ is composed and confident, with the Continental Contact Sport 3 tyres offering exceptional grip. Body roll is also well suppressed. However, the front end does struggle for grip when pushed close to its limit and the rear tends to unsettle a little under heavy braking.
The RCZ’s six-speed automatic is smooth but being a conventional torque converter type, it feels sluggish in a car with sporty pretentions and is no match for the twin-clutch box found in the Audi TT. The lack of paddle shifters is also a shame. Thankfully, its steering is direct and nicely weighted, although it feels a little numb in feedback.
The RCZ auto feels at home around town with a small turning circle and good all-round visibility. On the freeway, the cabin is well insulated from road noise although suffers from slight wind noise.
Recent Peugeot models have shown better quality and the RCZ continues that trend. The cabin is well put together with good fit and finish. All contact areas have soft leather. Most switch gears are well-weighted with a robust feel to them, except for the knobs in the centre console, which feel a little flimsy.
Overall, the vehicle feels solidly built and the doors shut with a reassuring thud.
The auto RCZ’s fuel economy isn’t one of the best in class, but it is still competitive. Over our week long test, it averaged about 11.5L/100km in urban driving and on the freeway it dropped to about 5L/100km. Combined, it gave a figure of 9.1L/100km with equal split of urban and freeway driving. That’s a far cry from the advertised figure of 7.3L/100km, and my occasional heavy right foot was partly to blame.
Sharing most of its underpinnings with the Peugeot 308, the RCZ’s running costs should be quite similar to the hatchback and nowhere as high as the Audi TT. However, a Peugeot badge on the nose means resale value aren’t as strong as its German rival.
The RCZ comes equipped with cruise control, dusk sensing headlamps, rain sensing wipers, dual-climate control, full electric seats with memory function and a 6-speaker audio system with Bluetooth, iPod connectivity.
The 2013 face-lifted model now also comes standard with 19-inch ‘Technical Grey’ alloy wheels, satellite navigation and adaptive xenon headlights that were previously optional.
On the safety front, the coupé is equipped with 4 airbags, electronic stability control with anti-lock braking system and traction control. Front and rear parking sensors are also standard.
The 2013 Peugeot RCZ is the car for you if you care more about turning heads than outright performance. Yes, you can get hot hatches out there that are faster and more fun for the same money or even less, but they lack the RCZ’s aesthetic flair in a stylish coupe body. And its coupe arch rival, the Audi TT, costs almost $20k more.
You might think that the new face-lifted RCZ still can’t unlatch its ‘poser’ image despite having undergone a mild ‘man-up’ treatment, but it’s actually got a real and dynamic sporting appeal to back its curvaceous looks.
The automatic version is easier to live with on a daily basis compared to the manual without giving up too much thrill. But to fully enjoy the RCZ’s remarkable chassis, the more powerful six-speed manual should be the better pick.
Let’s also not forget Peugeot will be bringing out a limited edition RCZ-R later this year which is expected to make around 200 kW, and we can’t wait to test it!
|Price (Excl. on roads):||$58,990 – 1.6 turbo automatic, 1.6 turbo manual and 2.0 turbo diesel|
As tested: $58,990 (1.6 turbo automatic)
|Warranty:||3-year or 100,000km|
|Engine:||1.6-litre turbo 4-cylinder petrol auto 115kW @ 6,000rpm, 240Nm @ 1,400rpm;|
|1.6-litre turbo 4-cylinder petrol manual 147kW @ 5,500rpm, 275Nm @ 1,700rpm;|
|2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel manual 120kW @ 3,750rpm, 340Nm @ 2,000rpm;|
|Transmission||6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic|
|Fuel Consumption (Combined):||7.3L/100km (1.6 turbo auto); 6.9L/100km (1.6 turbo manual); 5.3L/100km (2.0 turbo diesel)|
|Body:||2-door 4-seats coupé|
|Dimensions:||Length: 4287.4mm, Width: 1844.5mm, Height: 1359mm, Wheelbase: 2611.8mm|
|Kerb Weight||1,372-1445 kg|