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Car group tests

MINI Coupe vs Peugeot RCZ

The daring new MINI Coupe has finally arrived. But has it already met its match in the form of our current two-door champ: the Peugeot RCZ?

MINI Coupe vs Peugeot RCZ
Time flies when you’re having fun – and that’s exactly what MINI bosses have been doing for the last 10 years. It’s a decade since the rebirth of the famous brand, and its fifth model line is ready to hit the UK.
The new Coupe promises to be the sportiest and most striking MINI yet. With its eye-catching roof line, it’s strictly a two-seater, and it shouts about its ability to entertain with a low-slung stance and pop-up rear spoiler.
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Under the skin, it retains the entertaining chassis of its hatch brother, while a familiar line-up of engines is on offer. We test the range-topping John Cooper Works, with its turbocharged 1.6-litre unit tuned to deliver 208bhp.
It’s the fastest production car  MINI has ever produced. The Coupe’s lower centre of gravity and stiffer body should ensure it has the handling and agility to match its raw power, but a price tag of £23,795 pits the newcomer against some talented rivals.
First in the queue is our current Coupe of the Year – the Peugeot RCZ. In flagship THP 200 form, it features an upgraded front subframe and revised steering, helping make this the sharpest-handling Peugeot yet. Stunning looks also ensure kerb appeal. 
We took the French coupe all the way to the Austrian Alps to gatecrash the launch of the new MINI. And after driving them back-to-back on some of Europe’s finest roads, we have the definitive verdict... 

Verdict

Given the success of the MINI hatchback, it’s no surprise the firm hasn’t deviated far from this winning formula. The new Coupe isn’t revolutionary, but it’s a fraction sharper to drive than its rival, and those unconventional looks ensure it stands out from the crowd.
 
Is that enough to see off the more traditional appeal of the Peugeot? The RCZ is every bit as desirable, and it’s equally hard to split our duo from the driver’s seat. Both cars entertain on a grand scale, and share the same punchy engine.
 
The flagship MINI Coupe has a terrier-like quality on the road, and changes direction eagerly. The trade-off is unyielding suspension. In contrast, the more composed Peugeot doesn’t feel as lively as its smaller and lighter rival.
 
In the end, we’ll take the elegant lines of the RCZ, but a comparison of lesser models could well result in a different outcome.
 
1. Peugeot RCZ THP 200 GT
With great body control, communicative steering and delicately composed handling, the RCZ is a joy to drive. The MINI is a fraction more agile, but the THP 200 counters this with extra comfort. While there are a few fiddly bits of cabin switchgear, the stunning styling and extra space seal the deal in the Peugeot’s favour.
 
2. MINI Coupe John Cooper Works
The MINI brand continues to grow, and hot hatch lovers will adore the Coupe. Yet it offers little new over the ordinary JCW, and costs more. Plus, the firm ride and unusual styling won’t be universally popular. However, the newcomer promises to be as good to own as it is to drive.
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