Wednesday – Cute & Curvy

pug5.jpg

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

pug4.jpg

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

pug3.jpg

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

pug1.jpg

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

pug2

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…

Monday – Final Thoughts

RCZ_1207JBL012_2

Jeremy Despite a few niggly faults, the RCZ is an exceptionally good drive – even with the entry-level 1.6 petrol engine under the bonnet.

The 156bhp version delivers a 0-60 mph time of 7.8 seconds but, for some reason, it just feels faster. It helps make the Peugeot responsive and more engaging to drive than you might expect. The RCZ is a delight to steer in to a corner.

I found that the A-pillars do restrict visibility rather a lot and there is a nasty blind spot  in the door mirrors – otherwise the vast expanse of glass in the cabin gives the RCZ a more spacious feeling than the class-leading Audi TT coupe.

I think my main complaint about the car is the driving position. Apart from the high foot pedals (see earlier reports), the seats are unsupportive and the steering wheel is just plain ugly.

There’s no doubt the RCZ would be a fantastic secondhand buy but the next generation model needs to address these issues to turn a good car into a great one.

 

Saturday – Pedal Low

RCZ_1207JBL001_2

Jeremy Just back from a 300-mile round trip to horsey Newmarket in the RCZ – plenty of driving time to get more of a feel for the Peugeot.

What’s good about this designer coupe is that despite carrying only 156 horses under the bonnet, it feels remarkably composed and refined on the motorway. The 200bhp model must be even better.

What’s not so good is that returning via central London, the Peugeot was seriously tricky to drive in stop-start heavy traffic. The reason? It’s those high foot pedals again. Every change of gear was awkward. You also need to be aware that the RCZ also has a big blind spot in the door mirrors.

I’m still in two minds about this car. I like the styling, the concave rear screen, the curvy bits and the new front end. However, the driving experience and interior just don’t match the promise of the cool design.

Friday –

Snapshot 2013-05-30 21-10-50

Jeremy  I’ve just been reading Richard Hammond‘s review of the new RCZ in the Mirror. Me and the little chap used to present on Men & Motors PI (Pre Internet) – in those days he rode a motorbike to work and was slightly taller…

He’s obviously a big fan of the Pug coupe and especially the styling. I have to say I agree with him because any manufacturer that dares to break the jellymould of car design deserves a slap on the back.

The latest RCZ benefits from the new corporate nose of Peugeot, first seen on the 208. It’s not that different to the last one but on the RCZ, that means slightly more angular headlights and those annoying daytime running lights too.

One feature I agree with Hammond on is that there is something odd about the driving position. I can get comfortable in the seat but the foot pedals are so high they must have been designed for somebody with two knee joints.

It’s weird. The electric seats will recline and adjust for height but at 5ft 10ins, I began to feel like, well, a Richard Hammond. No idea why this is but I’m hoping Jessica can shed some light on things when she squeezes her 5ft 11ins frame inside next week…