Wednesday – Cute & Curvy


I’ve just spent the evening with my new neighbours – two complete petrol heads who know more about cars than any motoring writer I have ever met. One has a Toyota Supra track car that has an incredible 550bhp under the bonnet!

What was interesting is what they thought of the RCZ. Neither had driven it but both made favourable noises about how well the car looks. They liked the curvy shape, the cool interior and the contrasting roof pillars.

Both would have been even more excited if our test car was the 270bhp model, which should give the Audi TT RS a decent run for its money.

I think the RCZ would have been regarded as a truly great sports car IF Peugeot had launched a high performance model first, when the model first appeared four years ago. Sadly, because it had a range of lesser engines at the start of its life, it has never been regarded that highly.

Can’t wait to try the 270 version later this year…

Tuesday – A Sophisticated Lion


No offence to Peugeot but I never thought I would claim a Peugeot could be sophisticated. They’ve built some incredible hot hatchbacks over the years but sophisticated? No.

Before I drove the RCZ for the first time last year, I would have put it in the bling category – plenty of flash but not much substance.

There is, however, a lot more to the RCZ than meets the eye. The devil is in the detail and after sitting in the cabin for ten minutes, it’s quite clear that this is a luxuriously equipped, well built car with all the trimmings.

Does it compete with an Audi TT? I think it does. The original TT was a masterclass in design – the latest model borrows to many parts from across the range. The unique, design-led feel of the first model has gone.

In that respect, the RCZ wins hands down. It’s better on the inside and, some will think, prettier on the outside too. However, the ride and handling aren’t as good as the Audi and the premium brand TT badge alone will be enough to sway most buyers.

Monday – Navigation


I’m still baffled as to why so many car manufacturers struggle with the user-friendliness of their sat nav systems. The Peugeot unit appears straightforward enough but it has some frustrating traits that remind me of when BMW first brought out the iDrive system about ten years ago.

Keying in a destination int he RCZ requires true dexterity because the rotating dial used to select numbers and letters is super sensitive. It’s very easy to mess up – especially if the car is moving.

It’s possible to find an address using the postcode alone but again, it’s not blindingly obvious finding this facility when, let’s face it, it should be.

Perhaps the most awkward feature is the control dial, which is on the dashboard. It’s a good arm’s length away and would be better situated down by the handbrake.

Never mind – at least the screen folds down and out of sight with the press of just one button, Jessica’s pet hate is when the screen cannot be turned off easily…

Sunday – Back To Front


If I could have found my camera this morning you would have seen a wonderful photo of a frozen Peugeot RCZ. The sweeping curves of the coupe looked nothing short of beautiful when covered in ice.

I’m particularly smitten by the rear of the RCZ. It’s not so much the styling of the bodywork, it’s more the line of the roof and rear screen. The metal and glass have an indention which are unique and rather eye-catching.

Whether it appeals to you will depend on your taste but in the sub £30,000 bracket, I’m not sure I can think of another vehicle that exudes the same flare.

The design of the RCZ is so good that in profile and from a distance, it would be hard to say which is the front and which is the back. Very few cars manage that, although the Porsche Boxster comes close.


Saturday – Peugeot RCZ


I used to enjoy moving – seven times in the last six years. I planned it down to the last detail but when the removal lorry is five hours late, even the best plans can go horribly wrong.

So, it was that at 3am on Thursday night, the same removal lorry was stuck in a ditch outside my new house, digging an ever deeper rut for itself and me to get out of! All I had to look forward to the next day was driving the RCZ, Peugeot’s concept car in real world clothing.

Now we both loved the RCZ last year when we tried the 156bhp model. If only it had a little more power we thought… Well, Peugeot has just launched the R model, squeezing 270bhp from a 1.6 litre unit. It replaces the old ranger topper, the 1.6 200bhp version we have this week.

Compared to last year’s 156bhp model, this car is a a big step up. It still only has a modest 0-60mph time of 7.6 seconds but the power delivery is smooth, refined and quiet. It’s very good indeed and yesterday, I somehow managed 52mpg driving it – above the official consumption figure!

So, the stats look promising and the RCZ is as gorgeous as ever. Join us tomorrow for more words…

Wednesday – A Pug That Bites


Just occasionally a car comes along that truly surprises. The Peugeot 2008 is just that. Even though it can only pretend to be a 4×4 with raised ground clearance, scuff plates and beefy looks, it has turned out to be a capable machine.

Crossover vehicles try to be all things to all people – which is what makes them so popular with family buyers. However, sometimes the good things get diluted in an attempt to tick all the boxes.

The 2008 has some faults, like the pointless light display integrated into the roof lining, an annoying handbrake design and a rather lifeless drive but overall, the good points far outweigh the bad.

Here is a small family estate that will easily achieve 68mpg in everyday driving, is cheap to tax, can carry five adults AND their bags, and still manages to look pretty stylish on the outside. For £17,245, our 1.6 diesel looks like a great buy.

Tuesday – Slippery Customer


The very thought of using a two-wheel drive car effectively in mud, sand and snow is a tough one to get your head around. That’s especially true if it’s a modest family estate from Peugeot with model names live Active, Allure and Feline!

This week I’ve been trying to find some suitable ‘dirt’ to put the 2008 to the test. There’s a long, rutted track that I use to run down near Warminster and so I’ve used it to try out the car’s Grip Control dial.

The system is designed to maximise traction in low grip conditions. It adapts the 2008 to the terrain – just like a traction control system on a ‘proper’ 4×4.

My off-road route isn’t blessed with sand and snow (yet) but in mud mode, the 2008 scrambled along with remarkable agility, even if the rear end wandered a little in the process.

If you want a full-on four-wheel drive car, there are plenty to choose from. But let’s face it, how often do you actually use 4×4? It’s such a long time since I slipped my Land Rover into four-wheel drive that when I do, I have to read the instructions first!

So, for occasional, light off-road use, the Peugeot 2008 shouldn’t be written off as just a tame estate car pretending to look macho. It also has the benefits of remarkable fuel economy – something you won’t find in a full-time 4WD.

Sunday – A Man From Down Under


One of the Australian branch of Jessica’s extensive family is in England at the moment. Young Freddie is a twentysomething chap who lives in Perth and works out his fuel economy in miles per kilometer. What better person to cast a youthful eye over the 2008?

I have to admit, I truly thought Freddie would dismiss the Peugeot at first glance – after all, he’s used to driving proper 4x4s and utility vehicles. But surprisingly, Freddie seemed to like the pseudo off-road image of the 2008.

Australian’s also aren’t used to stop-start engine technology, designed to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy. I suppose that’s because once you are out of an Australian city, you don’t have to stop very often.

Freddie was pretty amazed by the 67mpg we managed in the Peugeot today, although we couldn’t quite work out what it was in kilometres.

The 2008 is continuing to go up in my estimations too. It feels more comfortable on the road than the Nissan Juke and there is less wallow on fast corners. I think noise levels and general refinement would improve with a six-speed gearbox and the larger diesel engine – otherwise it should be on your list to test drive if you are searching for a crossover vehicle.

Freddie won’t be buying one though. He couldn’t fit his surfboards in the back.

Friday – The Startling Truth


Last night I travelled to Salisbury to interview the wonderfully charismatic scientist, Dame Wendy Hall.  Her team invented an internet system that pre-dated the web and we sat in her garden chatting until dusk. Waving goodbye, I squeezed past her Jaguar XF and started up the 2008.

As I looked back over my shoulder, I was startled to discover the roof ‘wave’ decoration cut into the headlining was illuminated brightly by LEDs in the dark! It’s quite the most bizarre design feature I’ve encountered in any car for years. Peugeot would call it a unique selling point but I would have preferred that part of my £17,245 to have been spent on a sat nav system instead.

Equally as startling but in a rather more appealing way was the fuel economy I achieved driving back from Salisbury. Car manufacturers make claims about fuel consumption that are impossible to match but without even trying I managed a quite incredible 68.8mpg!

This figure, of course, has now given me the incentive to go for my highest mpg ever – the magic 70mpg! I have driven on several fuel economy events in the past and been pleased with 50mpg but the 2008’s consumption was in normal conditions.

Which means I didn’t have to push the door mirrors in and take off the windscreen wipers to improve aerodynamics – or remove the seats to reduce weight!

Wednesday – Talking Two Tone


Jessica ‘GTI‘ reminds me of the late eighties when it was de rigour for young sporty lads to have one. It was a label for the fast, cut above the rest model but was always attached to a sensible car.

This Peugeot is all that a GTI should be, it drives in a sophisticated way with responsive steering, well calibrated gears, good brakes and speed.  The combination of all those have come together to make this an enjoyable car to drive.

That combined with an straightforward console and intuitive touch screen display. It’s a system that didn’t require me to sit in a layby trying every option and button possible to use the satnav or change stations on the radio.

I was very intrigued to see that it is possible to create two tone dash and door handles, from a (slightly grating) red fading to black. This opens up a world of possibilities for car interiors.

I am surprised it has not been exploited in a bigger way. Of course, there is a danger that it could all get very messy and the inside of your car could end up looking like a childrens play area. However, in the right hands it could all be very exiting.

So I will be a little sad to say good bye to the lads’ (and lasses, it seems) GTI…