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Peugeot's sexy RCZ driven

2010-09-15 09:47

Sergio Davids

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Peugeot
Model RCZ
Engine 1.6l THP
Power 115kW at 6000rpm; 147kW at 5500 rpm
Torque 240 Nm @ 1400 rpm; 275 Nm @ 1700 rpm
Transmission Six-speed automatic; six-speed manual
Fuel Consumption 7.3l; 6.9l combined cycle (claimed)
Steering Power steering
Airbags Dual front and side
Tyres 18'' alloy wheels; 19'' alloy Wheels
Front Suspension MacPherson strut with drop-link anti-roll bar
Rear Suspension Deformable cross member with integral roll bar
Warranty Three year/100 000km
When one thinks “sports car”, French brands don’t often come to mind. Despite this, French carmaker Peugeot has a long history of manufacturing supercars and a proud rallying pedigree.

Now, the lion brand has entered the sports car market with a new release – the RCZ, which will reach the SA market in November 2010 with two petrol engine derivatives and a turbodiesel derivative to follow. The petrol engines will feature two power configurations – 1.6l 115kW auto and 1.6l 147kW manual.

Apart from the power outputs and transmission, the only discernable difference between the two lies in the wheel rims (18”/19”) and the finishes on the gear shifter.

While there’s no mistaking that its looks appear very similar to Audi’s TT, you’ll soon see that there is plenty that sets the RCZ apart from other cars in its market. The striking arches along the roof, the new Peugeot grille and the unique “double bubble” roof all serve to create a head-turning, stylish vehicle. The large derrière remains distinctly “Peugeot”.

The RCZ moniker is a first for Peugeot, which usually turns to numerals when naming its models. Along with its new vehicle names, Peugeot has launched its new logo featuring a more pronounced prancing lion.


There are some cars that take a while to get used to, others instantly place a grin on your face. The RCZ falls into the latter category as it’s incredible fun to drive and deceivingly aggressive in its performance.

A new added feature is the Pollen Filter added to the engine. I know its sounds like something that would help with your allergies but it’s actually a device to amplify engine noise and transmit it to the cabin. This translates into an incredible vehicle sound that's activated whenever you accelerate.

It’s a great feature; often noise reduction within premium vehicles results in a muted engine sound within the cabin. With the Pollen Filter you’ll soon be reduced to a giggling schoolboy purposefully accelerating just to hear the engine. Curiously, though, when not accelerating it’s eerily quiet…

Driving it

The 1.6 THP flagship has a maximum power output of 147kW at 5500rpm and peak torque of 275Nm from 1700-4500rpm. This engine variant is matched to a six-speed manual transmission and is capable of 0-100 in 7.5 sec.

The manual has a claimed fuel consumption of 6.9 litres/100km (combined cycle) while producing a CO2 figure of 159g/km.
The 115kW version of the 1.6 THP is understandably not as powerful, achieving maximum power at 6000rpm; max torque is 240Nm from 4500 rpm. This derivative is currently only available with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

The RCZ handles impeccably well and, regardless of how fast you take bends, the grip is unshakeable. Though, with its sports-car engineering, it’s not surprising that its suspension would be firm if not a little too harsh on bumpy roads.

Gear shifts are smooth and incredibly well timed in the auto. While you have the option of using the semi-auto manual mode, there are no paddle shifts attached to the steering wheel. At high speed the engine still reaches its peak revs and seems in need of a seventh gear, as all you’re doing is wasting fuel.

Regardless of which engine you go for, the RCZ is a car that handles impeccably with great cornering ability and well-weighted steering. As soon as you hit the road you might find yourself taking the long route home just to hit the twisty bits again.

Active rear spoiler

Further credence is lent to the sports coupé's performance potential by an adjustable active rear spoiler. It deploys automatically in two stages according to the car's speed but can also be activated manually to the higher position.

The spoiler rises to 19 degrees at 85km/h and retracts below 55. The second position (34 degrees) is adopted at 155km/h, returning to the lower setting at 142.

Inside you really get the sense that you’re in a premium vehicle. The RCZ is decked out in leather with chrome finishes with plastics kept to a minimum. From the slick gearbox design to the stylish fascia with its backlit controls, Peugeot has really put a lot of thought into an area where you’ll be spending 100% of your driving time. I know it might seem obvious, but when was the last time you were in a vehicle that looked as good inside as it does outside? With that in mind, the RCZ is stacked with creature comforts.

Peugeot claims the RCZ is a four-seater, but after several awkward attempts at squeezing in you’ll be hard-pressed to describe the rear as having “seats”. Unless you’re keen on chopping your legs off at the knees and prepared to sit hunched the entire time, you’re not getting anywhere in the back seat, at least not comfortably.

Active bonnet

The active rear spoiler is complemented by an active bonnet developed to lessen the effect of an impact on a pedestrian. When the sensors at the front of the vehicle detect a collision a pyrotechnic system activates the bonnet hinges, raising the bonnet as much as 55mm in 0.1 sec.

Diesel power coming soon

Peugeot will eventually launch a 2.0 HDI model - a first in the segment - capable of 120kW at 3750rpm and peak torque of 340Nm at 3000rpm. The turbodiesel is mated to a six-speed manual transmission and produces a claimed fuel consumption of 5.3 litres/100 km.

What remains to be seen is how well Peugeot can shirk off the stigma attached to its badge among brand-loyal South Africans. With projected global sales of 17 000 units (120 will be available in SA) and Peugeot’s aim to climb three places in the world’s top carmaker rankings, the French company certainly has its work cut out.

The RCZ faces tough competition from Audi’s TT and VW's Sirocco but. with a price tag of R358 000 (for the 1.6 THP auto), it’s certainly priced aggressively.

Peugeout has no plans to produce a cabriolet version of the RCZ.

Price (without CO2 tax):
1.6l THP automatic – R358 000
1.6l THP manual – R373 000

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