The 266bhp Peugeot RCZ R coupe will become the most powerful road-going Peugeot the French firm has ever sold when order books open in mid-November. The Peugeot RCZ R price is still being finalised, but expect to pay around £32,500 for the flagship coupe. First deliveries begin on 2 January.
To justify the extra £4,500 over the top-spec 197bhp petrol Peugeot RCZ, the company has enlisted its motorsport department to finesse the car’s chassis and powertrain. We’ve been to visit Peugeot Sport in Paris to get the inside line on the car, and meet some of the team who made it happen.
The Peugeot RCZ R was given the green light in June last year. Pierre Budar, Manager for Sporty and Individual Models at Peugeot Sport, says the car has been developed “in response to customer demand for an RCZ coupe with more power to match its looks.”
Cyrille Jourdan, Technical manager in Budar’s team, says “the target for the new car is for something easy to drive on the road, but that really impresses you when you hit the track. To do this handling, braking, balance, power and traction have all been worked on via two targets: powertrain and chassis.”
The 1.6-litre petrol engine in the RCZ R has been given a thorough overhaul. There’s a larger turbo, which boosts at a higher pressure, while the air intake has been redesigned for a freer flow. The engine block has been reinforced, and forged pistons sourced from Mahle Motorsport have been added. There’s also a larger intercooler, new exhaust manifold and a new exhaust with a lower back pressure.
This drives the front wheels through a new clutch, redesigned gearbox with different ratios to the standard THP 200 model and a Torsen limited-slip diff.
The engine develops 266bhp and 330Nm, 69bhp and 55Nm more than before, and can power the car from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds – considerably faster than the THP 200’s 7.6 second claim.
Budar adds: “270hp [266bhp] is a nice result and it suits the car well. It’s very similar to the RCZ race car. We could have gone to 300hp, but we needed the engine to be reliable. So much so, the some of the lessons we learned from the road car will be fed back to the race car.”
On the subject of reliability, the RCZ-R can be serviced at any Peugeot dealer, and runs down the same production line as the ordinary car. However, service intervals drop from 18,000 to 12,000 miles to ensure the engine remains in top condition.
Despite the extra performance, the RCZ R is more efficient than the THP 200. It’s Euro 6 compliant, and returns claimed figures of 44.8mpg and 145g/km of CO2, when compared to the THP’s 42.1mpg and 155g/km. The new gear ratios help efficiency, as does the fact that the RCZ R is 17kg lighter than the THP, at 1,404kg.
As well as its revised engine, the chassis has been overhauled. As it’s intended to perform on the track, Jourdan says “most of the development has taken place on five-six tracks around Paris, with road driving near here [Peugeot Sport’s HQ] and in central France. The track is the only place where we can get repeatable data to ensure that set-up changes are working.”
The suspension has been completely overhauled, with new dampers, springs and anti-roll bars, a 10-15mm increase in track widths, different geometry and specially designed 19-inch alloys and tyres.
The front brakes have been upgraded, too, with 380mm Alcon discs similar to those used on the previous generation of WRC cars. The front calipers are red, but the rears remain black as they’re carried over from the standard car.
The upshot is that Peugeot claims the RCZ R is over two seconds per kilometre faster than the regular petrol model. But when it’s wet, that figure increases much more as the car’s setup has been designed for increased mechanical grip.
Budal adds “The ESP is there, but can be fully disengaged. We think using the brakes to improve traction is nonsense. Brakes are for stopping, it makes no sense to use them when you’re trying to drive faster so the setup has been designed to be mechanically good, without relying on electronics.”
In addition to some new alloy wheels, the RCZ R gets a fixed rear wing that gives more downforce, although a new rear diffuser means the drag coefficient is unchanged at 0.32.
Inside, there are new, more heavily bolstered sports seats, the gearknob from the 208 GTi, and a small Peugeot Sport plaque which hides the hole where the button for the electric spoiler is located on lesser models.
The new Peugeot RCZ R is the first car from Peugeot Sport since the Citroen DS3 Racing arrived in 2010.
Check back soon for our full Peugeot RCZ R review, where we’ll see if all the motorsport tweakery has done its job.