Peugeot RCZ GT 2.0 HDI 163
Sector: Coupe Price: £25,395 Fuel: 53.2mpg CO2: 139g/km
It’s a mark of a successful sports car design when not only does it get the attention of other motorists and passers by, but when it pulls a crowd of designers from another car brand wanting to have a closer look. A feat the RCZ proved deft at pulling off.
And deservedly so – there’s a whiff of Audi TT in its silhouette but there’s otherwise absolutely nothing else that looks like it. With large, muscular wheel arches wrapping around wheels up to 19 inches in diameter and that unique contoured roof and rear screen, it’s stylish enough to appeal to both sexes and a world away from the 308 on which it’s based.
Surprisingly so, too, considering how much of the pre-facelift 308 front end has been carried onto the coupe. Though not quite as neat as the back end with its retractable spoiler – which doesn’t extend fully until the car passes 96mph – the huge grille and claw-like headlights work well with the rest of the bodywork. It’ll be interesting to see if the more subtle new 308 nose makes its way onto the RCZ, though.
Inside, the 308’s solid dashboard is barely recognisable trimmed in fine black leather, while the sports seats are firm and supportive without being back-breaking on long journeys. The boot is huge, and one adult could probably just about squeeze into the back seats, too.
The RCZ comes with a choice of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, with the excellent 2.0 HDi 163 fitted to our test car. It gives little to gripe about – quiet, mid-40s to the gallon frugal, potent enough for high speed cruising and with an ample shove of mid-rev torque to make light work of winding B roads thanks to its stiff and well-balanced chassis.
This is a real feel-good car, a delight to drive, stylish to look at and pleasingly light in its thirst for heavy oil. It doesn’t have the badge gloss of an Audi TT or the practicality of a Scirocco or Astra GTC, but as an affordable company car with head-turning on-road presence RCZ is near impossible to fault.
Though not blindingly fast, RCZ offers a genuinely entertaining and slightly lower-priced alternative to a TDI TT while shedding almost none of the Audi’s head-turning appeal. On larger wheels and with the optional aluminium-emblazoned interior goodies, it could almost be a road-going concept car.