Peugeot RCZ R vs Nissan 370Z Nismo

25 Feb, 2014 9:30am

Peugeot has put all its racing expertise into the new RCZ R. Can it beat the powerful Nissan 370Z Nismo?

The best high-performance coupes match stylish looks with thrilling handling and blistering pace. But can a front-wheel-drive model ever be a true thoroughbred sports car?

Nissan 370Z review

Peugeot RCZ R review

Peugeot thinks so, as it’s just launched the highly tuned, race-bred RCZ R. Wide-ranging changes to its turbo engine boost power and torque to 266bhp and 330Nm respectively, making this the most powerful 1.6-litre engine you can buy. To keep this in check, the R also gets revised suspension, a limited-slip diff and bigger brakes.

However, for the same price, you could buy a traditional rear- wheel-drive V6 coupe, in the shape of the Nissan 370Z. Spend an extra £5,000, and you can get the recently launched Nismo model, with aggressive styling and lots of power. Will the old-school rear-wheel-drive bruiser win out over the lightweight, turbocharged, front-wheel-drive challenger? We hit some great British roads to find out.

Head-to-head

Sporting heritage Nissan is hoping its Nismo arm will soon rival established performance brands such as BMW’s M Division. Formed in 1984, it’s been involved in racing and Japanese-market tuning so far, but now it’s going global. Peugeot Sport was founded in 1981 and has Le Mans and World Rally Championship victories to its name. Today, it focuses on building customer rally and racing cars.

On the track

As our figures show, this pair are very similar on pace. And you can see how close they were on track in our video at autoexpress.co.uk and in our figures on Page 65. The RCZ is very stable at high speed and agile in tighter corners. The Nissan feels heavier, but was entertaining in damp conditions with its rear-wheel-drive balance.

Capacity & output

Nissan takes the traditional approach, with a large, normally aspirated 3.7-litre V6, while the four-cylinder Peugeot follows the current trend for turbocharging. It’s not quite as powerful as the Nissan, but we found it to be more responsive and free-revving.

Worth considering

Toyota GT 86 TRD TOYOTA Racing Developments’ version of the GT 86 adds a bodykit, bigger wheels and wider tyres. And at £31,495, it’s almost the same price as the RCZ R.

1st place - Peugeot

The RCZ R is one of the best front-wheel-drive performance cars we’ve driven. It’s pricey, but you can see where the money has been spent. Peugeot Sport has built a rewarding, well engineered coupé that’s faster and sharper than the standard car, yet just as efficient.

2nd place - Nissan

Nissan NISMO has improved the 370Z’s chassis, but it’s let down by a harsh engine, hefty price tag and excessive running costs. The extravagant bodykit is an acquired taste, too. So the Nissan isn’t as fast, cheap, clean or – crucially – fun to drive as the new Peugeot. 

Peugeot  Nissan
RCZ R 370Z Nismo
On-the-road price/total as tested £31,995/£33,175 £36,995/£36,995
Residual value (after 3yrs/30k miles) £13,758/43.0% £15,575/42.1%
Depreciation £18,237 £21,420
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £1,336/£2,671 £2,527/£5,054
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £2,394/£3,989 £3,199/£5,331
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost 42/£505/F/£140 46/£722/L/£475
Service costs £612 (3yrs/30k miles) £380 (3yrs)
Length/wheelbase 4,294/2,612mm 4,410/2,550mm
Height/width 1,362/2,107mm 1,315/1,870mm
Engine 4cyl in-line/1,598cc V6/3,696cc
Peak power  266/6,000 bhp/rpm 339/7,400 bhp/rpm
Peak torque  330/1,900 Nm/rpm 371/5,200 Nm/rpm
Transmission  6-spd manual/FWD 6-spd manual/RWD
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 55 litres/repair kit 72 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity 309 litres 235 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight 1,355/425kg 1,535/365kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient 10.6 metres/0.28Cd 11.0/0.30Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (60,000)/1yr  3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers 20,000 miles (1yr)/300 9,000 miles (1yr)/225
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 31st/26th 12th/11th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars N/A N/A
0-60/30-70mph 5.8/5.2 secs 5.9/5.2 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th  2.5/3.5 secs 3.3/4.6 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th  4.4/5.7 secs 5.6/8.7 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph  155mph/3,000rpm 155mph/2,500rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph  52.1/37.1/8.6m 46.6/33.4/8.7m
Test track lap time 1min 13.4secs 1min 13.0secs
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range 29.4/6.5/356 miles 22.0/4.8/348 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 33.6/55.4/44.8mpg 18.5/35.8/26.6mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 8.4/5.1/6.3mpl 4.1/7.9/5.9mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 222/145g/km/21% 297/248g/km/35%
Airbags/ISOFIX/cruise control Four/yes/yes Six/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seats Yes/yes/no Yes/no/yes
Met paint/parking sensors/sunroof £520/rear/no £550/£365/no
Sat-nav/DAB radio/Bluetooth Yes/no/yes Yes/no/yes
Sports exhaust/xenon lights Yes/yes Yes/yes

Disqus - noscript

So, the car with the better acceleration figures is beaten round the track by the heavier car? That's quite a RWD legacy then.

Peugeot rules :)))

Give me the Z any day of the week... I've driven a 350Z and you feel connected to the car in a way that I doubt the Peugeot could.... I'm assuming the 370Z retains the same feeling.

£32K for a peugeot seems a lot, I know the Z tested is £36K but you can have a 370Z for £26K which makes the Pug seem very expensive.

Well you have to compare the price for equivalent cars. You can have a RCZ for £21 if you want to, but here it is the most powerful cars that are compared with the same level of equipment. I have been surprised by the grip and the quality of the standard RCZ, so maybe you should try the RCZ-R. "£32K for a peugeot seems a lot" maybe it is time to change the stereotypes, Peugeot doesn't always mean average quality, as it is said in this article.

I hear what you're saying, but the £21K RCZ is way down on power compared to the £26K Z which is only marginally less powerful than the NISMO version.

Fair point though re the £32K for a Peugeot comment I made. *takes that on chin*

Yes but it is not all about power isn't it? This Peugeot is not purely a sport car like the Z, it is a car you can use every day as well, and the difference on the price is spent on the interior quality. Also, the Z is well known to brun fuel really quickly (I have a friend who got rid of his because of that).
To be fair, I am not saying the Z is a bad car at all, just that the RCZ price is justified.
Said that, a comparison with the Audi TTS would be easier to do, and then the Audi is much more expensive.
By the way, I didn't want to be rude in my comment in Peugeot prices :-)

Don't worry, I didn't take offence :-)

Yes, I did a double take when I saw the Peugeot in 1st. I' m sure the RCZ R is a more comfortable and quiet everyday car, but as a drivers car the 370Z NISMO is in a different class with its's gorgeous sounding V6 engine, and fun rear drive handling. That said, I would put my money on the less hardcore 'standard' 370Z.

AEX 1,341
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