Peugeot returns to the fore

RCZ GT Diesel

I had the opportunity to drive the Peugeot RCZ today – welcome relief from sorting the damaged Land Rover.

I drove the 163 bhp diesel in GT specification.  Orders are being taken now but there is a twelve week lead time, so this vehicle is effectively one of the last of pre-release models.  Apart from sitting on 18” wheels (the GT will be sold with 19” rims) this car is identical to what the public will buy.

My love affair with Peugeot ended about 10 years ago.  While I loved (and nearly bought) the silky V6 406 Coupé designed by Pininfarina, the level of service at dealerships had plummeted so I changed allegiance to Saab.  The 307 started the downhill trend for reliability and aesthetically, Peugeots have been challenging ever since.  That is until the RCZ. 

The RCZ is refined, surprisingly quick and provided great feedback.  I was transported straight back to the near perfect driving position of the 406 Coupé.  The RCZ has inevitably been compared to the Audi TT but behind the wheel, it knocks the Audi comfortably into second place.  I didn’t ever expect to write that the French cabin felt much better built than that of its German rival but Peugeot have got this one right.  The leather seats are comfortable and well-bolstered, the steering is precise and the lever for the six speed manual gearbox has an easy, positive action. 

During the short run, there was only limited opportunity to open it up.  I’d like to have sampled it on a wet road too, but in the dry the RCZ pulled strongly to the red line and there was no hint of torque steer or illumination on the dash indicating electronic interference. 

Peugeot is keen to emphasise that it has reached the market just 2½ years after being unveiled as a concept vehicle and that it retains most of the concept’s features such as the ‘double bubble’ roof.  I’m not sure the RCZ could be described as pretty, but it is certainly very striking; I love it.  The model will also retain some exclusivity here in the UK with about 2,500 cars being sold this year and 4,000 next.  It’s built in Graz in Austria too – in the same factory as the Aston Martin Rapide.

The RCZ feels like a bespoke car and undercutting the Audi by about £3,000 on similar specifications makes it very desirable indeed.  We’ll have to wait and see if Peugeot will offer a more hardcore version to take the TT RS head on.  In the mean time I just need to convince my wife that there is enough room in the back for a three year old…

Leave a Reply