Peugeot RCZ : Road Test
Review by Tristan Tancredi - 7 August 2013
Maintaining the driving dynamics of the outgoing model, Peugeot bring a host of new and innovative changes to the all-new RCZ.
A starker, more demanding exterior presence is highlighted by a redesigned front grille, darker highlights and strong style lines. The aggressive and unique RCZ is available in three variants. A 1.6 litre Turbo Petrol (Auto/Man) and a 2.0 litre Turbo Diesel (Manual). We had heaps of fun getting the most out of the 1.6 litre paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox.
Peugeot have portrayed the new RCZ as "...an innovative synthesis of performance and respect for the environment". Let's find out how true these claims are...
As mentioned, we had the 1.6 litre turbo petrol engine paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox. The word around the office was that this variant was the pick of the RCZ bunch. So, we were pretty excited when we kicked over the ignition to get this "bad boy coupe" purring.
Interestingly, Peugeot have stuck with a traditional handbrake and not followed the masses by installing an electro-mechanical handbrake. So after lowering ourselves into the "low" sports front seats and releasing said handbrake, we were off.
The low ride height and centre of gravity translates to a very sporty drive that is centred around driver feel and enjoyment. The flip-side of this however is that bumps and potholes are slightly exaggerated.
Taking this unique sports coupe for a wild run through the wet and windy roads of outer Melbourne lived up to our expectations. The gears, although slightly sluggish in 1st gear, were highly responsive and punchy, especially at the top end. Performance was outstanding. It didn't surprise us to learn that the 1.6l 6-speed manual reaches 0-100km/h in 7.5 seconds.
Thanks to a widened track, large 19" tyres and a highly tuned suspension package, the RCZ's handling is first class. An active rear aero spoiler also contributes to performance and can be heightened or lowered via a button positioned in the centre console. According to the speed of the vehicle, the rear spoiler is activated to ensure the vehicle remains aerodynamic and stable.
A lovely sound emanates through the cabin as you creep up the gears. A sporty growl transcends through to the drivers area, but is far from intrusive.
Driving features include; Electronic parking assistance (front and rear), Cruise Control with Speed Limiter and a Multi-function digital display.
The RCZ is available in either a 1.6 litre turbo petrol variant (auto/6-speed manual) or a 2.0 litre turbo diesel variant (6-speed manual only). Both engines are portrayed to be both strong performers and highly fuel efficient. Let's see if the stats back this claim up.
The 1.6 litre turbo petrol variant (6-speed auto) produces maximum power of 115kW at 6000rpm and max torque of 240Nm at 1400rpm. The 1.6 litre turbo petrol variant (6-speed manual) produces 147kW @ 5500rpm and 275Nm @ 1700rpm. Whist the 2.0 Litre Diesel (6 speed manual) produces 120Kw at 3750rpm and 340Nm at 2000rpm.
Fuel usage is extremely tolerable for a Sports Performance coupe. The 1.6 litre (auto) drinks 7.3 litres , the 1.6 litre (manual) 6.9 litres and the 2.0 Diesel drinks 5.3 litres. After driving the 1.6 litre manual for a week, we can't dispute these figures.
If you don't think the RCZ makes an impression on the road, sitting behind the wheel for a week will change that opinion. This sports coupe turns heads like you wouldn't believe!
Granted, it may be because of it's unique exterior styling or the so called "double-bubble" roof. However there's no denying the fact that it is different and it does demand attention. A lower air intake, extended on each side by a six LED light signature and new Xenon lights with titanium surround are some of the many changes to the front grille of the outgoing RCZ model.
Peugeot have obviously opted for a more aggressive, "in your face", design with the new RCZ and on this front, job complete. Harder lines and darker highlights culminate to deliver a very sporty, sleek and powerful looking sports coupe.
The wide rear wheel arches return in no uncertain terms. In fact, when given the keys to the RCZ, the lovely folk at Peugeot warned me that ..."a few people have pounded the curb with the rear wheels, so be extra careful".
The 19" Technical Storm Alloy Wheels fit neatly with the overall appearance of the RCZ. These are complimented by upgraded arches (from silver to matt black) and a new black grille and brake calipers.
At least we can all agree, this design is likely to split the public right down the middle.
The RCZ is packed with a host of safety features.
Driver & Front passenger and Front Side Airbags are positioned within the cabin. Side impact intrusion bars limit the damage within the cabin in the event of any on-road accidents and an Active Bonnet enhances pedestrian safety.
Behind the wheel, and the driver has the aid of ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Emergency Brake Assist and Electronic Stability Program. Hill Assist is also standard throughout the RCZ range and assists the driver when taking off on an incline.
Unfortunately, a spare tyre is replaced with tyre sealant.
A low ride height obviously translates to a drivers position very low to the ground. As it is a Sports Coupe it should come as no surprise that the RCZ offers a very driver-centric cabin.
The front sports bucket seats with leather trim are comfortable and offer great lumbar support (lumbar adjustment on front seats is standard). The Drivers seat comes with memory function and both front seats are heated. We had difficulty finding the controls for the seat heaters as they are located on the side of the seat (Typically the controls are found on the dash).
The rear bench seat is pretty much limited exclusively to storage.
Storage space however is surprisingly generous. A host of storage compartments are littered through the cabin, as are well placed cup holders. There is 384 litres of boot space on offer (with the back seats up) and 760 litres (with back seats down). We had no trouble squeezing in two large speakers, 3 microphone stands and an amplifier with ease into the boot.
Interior features also include; Dual zone climate control air conditioning, Sports leather trimmed steering wheel (no controls on steering wheel, only on steering wheel column), Pop-Up Satellite Navigation (works a bliss), RD4 6-speaker radio and CD player, Bluetooth Capabilities and USB connectivity.
Other notable interior detail changes from the outgoing RCZ model include; Gear Level Surround is no lacquered black, new door pads with trim inserts, aluminium door sills and drilled aluminium pedals.
The French have put together quite a package with the all-new RCZ. An elegant and dynamic sports performer that not only demands attention but is just as exciting to drive. The RCZ starts from $58,990.
Due to this price and it's unique, yet sleek, exterior styling, the RCZ will turn a few people away. Those that stay, will be in for a treat when they sit behind the wheel. Especially of the 1.6 litre Turbo petrol paired with the 6-speed manual transmission!
To link it back to the initial statement from Peugeot, which claimed the RCZ was "...an innovative synthesis of performance and respect for the environment". It is hard to disagree. A responsive, quick and ultimately fun Sports Coupe to drive that doesn't guzzle down the fuel. Tick.
* Prices are manufacturer list prices only, for the drive away price please contact your local authorised Peugeot dealer.
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