Peugeot RCZ review
The concept car looks of the Peugeot RCZ are backed up by a sporty driving experience, although rear space is a bit cramped
If you want to turn the most heads for the least amount of cash, the Peugeot RCZ should be on your list. It's far more stylish than the Audi TT and VW Scirocco, especially after its recent facelift, and it costs less, too. The rear seats may be tight and build quality not quite as good, but with an involving driving experience and wide range of engines, topped by the brilliant 200 THP model, it comes highly recommended.
Our choice: RCZ THP 200 GT
The forte of the Peugeot RCZ is the way it looks. Whereas the Audi TT had the sub-£30,000 coupe sector to itself for many years, the RCZ - complete with its 'double-bubble' rear windscreen and sweeping silver roof rails - makes it look like a wallflower. Factor in a wide range of colours, optional go-faster stripes and 10 different alloy wheel choices, and you've got a real fashion champion. Mid-life changes were mainly focused on the front end, where the gaping Peugeot 308-style grille has been replaced by a smaller opening with a full-width vent underneath. On the inside, there are some neat soft-touch materials throughout, a classy large clock on the facia and lots of seat adjustment for driver and passengers. That said, an Audi TT and VW Scirocco both feel more solidly built. All cars come with lots of standard equipment, with base Sport cars getting air-con, alloy wheels, a USB port for iPods and rear parking sensors. Up to 80 per cent of buyers go for top spec GT models, with leather trim and front parking sensors.
There are two strands to the RCZ range - the lower-powered 156bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol or 163bhp 2.0-litre diesel and the flagship 200bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol. The latter gets specially beefed up front suspension, a smaller steering wheel and a short-throw six-speed gearbox. Along with the punchy engine - which allows 0-60mph in 7.6 seconds and feels very fast - it's much more involving and grippy to drive. The lower-powered versions don't have the same immediacy but are still good fun, though. Ride quality can be firm over broken tarmac, but all models are quite refined at high speeds on the motorway. Facelifted models are especially quiet, thanks to special acoustic insulated windscreens fitted to all RCZs.
With four airbags and electronic stability control, the RCZ is as safe as most coupes in its class. Reliability is not likely to be a strong point given Peugeot's reputation and Auto Express's own experience of running an RCZ, which suffered from a couple of faults - failure of the automatic headlights and washer jets – during our time with the car.
A VW Scirocco has a proper hatchback and beats the Peugeot RCZ for ease of loading and all out boot space - but with a 384-litre boot and split/fold seats, the RCZ is more practical than you might think. The most awkward thing is that you have to raise luggage/shopping over the wings/rear bumper to access the load area. The rear seats can carry two small adults but only for short journeys as there's very little legroom and headroom is compromised by the steeply raked rear window.
If you want to spend the least at the pumps, get the diesel, which does 53.2mpg, whereas the THP 156 does 42.1mpg and the THP 200 returns 40.9mpg. The diesel is cheapest to tax as well, emitting 139/gkm of CO2, while the petrols emit 155g/km and 159g/km respectively. Running costs shouldn't be as high as an Audi TT or VW Scirocco, and residuals are firm at the moment because of strong used demand. We expect that to continue, as the RCZ is a rare sight.