Merde le Fantastique: Peugeot’s RCZ

RCZ profileThere’s a woman who’s a (supposed) model that was once engaged to a bloke that waves a bit of willow every now and then. She’s considered pretty in some quarters yet almost universally derided as being unable to challenge the IQ system. So, beautiful-ish on the outside but has nothing of substance on the inside. This is how A Wheel Thing sees the Peugeot RCZ.
It’s an eyecatcher, with metallic black paint coating its svelte curves front to rear, contrasting nicely with the matt black plastic arch framing the side windows and highlighting the double bubble rear window line streaming from the roof.RCZ double bubble
LED taillights and HID headlights complete the very pretty exterior. At each corner is an exquisitely lovely 19 inch alloy, clad in figure hugging grippy 235/40 Continental rubber. It’s clear the RCZ is a stunner on the outside….
The cabin is….snug, being nominally a 2+2. The long doors open into a leather clad interior, with reasonable form fitting electric and heated seats at the front and what passes for seats at the back. It’s a long standing tradition in the RCZ dash 2sports car family to have great looks and no back seats so this doesn’t surprise. Bootspace is surprising, with 384L and rises to 760 with rear pews down. The dash is simple, if a little unexciting, with a touch of Gallic flair with chrome ringing the dials, clock and surrounding the leather clad gear lever fascia, whilst a slab of plastic rises from the upper centre section to display the GPS and media information. With black leather all around it’s a sweet little office. There’s a switch to adjust the angle and one to retract it as well. The console features a button to raise or lower a wing nestled in the bootlid and framed by the taillight clusters….which is somewhat pointless as it doesn’t retract automatically when the 1.6L turbo petrol engine is powered off. Nor does it rise at a preset speed to help downforce, as one would expect. And thus does the first crack in the makeup come.RCZ spoiler
The RCZ comes with manual and automatic transmissions, six speeds for each. A Wheel Thing was in the company of the auto, which suffers in comparison to the manual by virtue of a lower power and torque output. There’s just 116kW on offer, compared to 147kW while torque is 240Nm, down from 274Nm, plus lacks paddle shifts. Under full acceleration there’s enough to scrabble the front tyres before the wide aspect rubber grips and pulls you along, the exhaust rasping out the soundtrack and a sonorous growl from the long bonnet.It’s enough of a reduction to have a lesser top speed and a near full second slower to 100 kmh (8.4 vs 7.5) however. The changes from the six speed auto are short yet could be a touch crisper plus sometimes finds itself not quite….where…it…neeeeeeds to be, and the sports RCZ quartermode tends to hold gears a little longer than sometimes neccessary. Brakes, on the other hand, grab well and progressively, with a feeling confidence.
On suburban roads, the RCZ’s biggest and fatal flaw comes in. On a race track a firm, very short travel suspension can be an advantage but not here. There’s no give, no compliance, no comfort, turning the RCZ into a teeth shaking, back pain inducing, eyeball rattling monster. Small bumps and speedhumps transmit an amplified bang signal to the cabin whilst the bigger road protection speedhumps crash through and throw the RCZ off line, relying on the tyres and wide track to regain traction. Although the potential for danger is small, it’s annoying and excessivle painful, truly reducing enjoyment in the urban environment. An upside is the sideways level of grip the track and tyres give to the RCZ. There’s more issues, ergonomically this time; behind the steering wheel are two stubs, left and right, for cruise and audio. The audio stub has a rotating dial on the back, one would have though, for volume….nope. For station change it is, leaving the driver to reach across and find the small arrow tabbed switch on the left side of the radio section.
So, in the cold light of day, the RCZ is a clumsy supermodel. It’s fantastic to look at, makes a nice enough noise but terrible on the runway. For close on $59k plus on roads at the time of writing, there’s better out there.! and for purchase options contact or via:

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