Peugeot RCZ THP 200
We’ve fallen head over heels for stunning new coupé. But will our love affair last?
I’ve fallen in love... with a Peugeot! Not since the legendary 205 GTi hot hatch has a car that wears the Lion badge made me feel this way – which is why I jumped at the chance to run our new long-termer.
Having just come out of an up-and-down relationship with a Nissan 370Z, I was keen not to go on the rebound. But when I laid eyes on the RCZ’s stunning curves, double-bubble roof and outrageous proportions in our car park, I knew it was the one!
My new love is the best of the bunch, too. It’s the THP 200, which gets a 200bhp 1.6-litre turbo – the most powerful unit in the line-up. This punts the stunning car from 0-60mph in a mere 7.3 seconds and on to nearly 150mph.
It makes a great noise as well. A clever sound generator sees the engine gurgle under power, encouraging you to accelerate hard. Thankfully, the chassis – so often a Peugeot weak point in recent years – has the verve of the original 205 GTi, too.
A number of tweaks help to sharpen the THP 200’s responses, including a strengthened front subframe and wider wheel hubs. Inside, there’s a smaller steering wheel and short-shift gearlever.
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Touches such as these, along with the concept car exterior, show Peugeot really is trying to connect with drivers again in a way it hasn’t done since the late Nineties with models such as the 306 GTi-6.
On the move, the RCZ is just as thrilling as it is to look at. It responds instantly to every turn of the chunky steering wheel, the nose darting into bends with great agility. There’s a lot of grip and, although the ride is firm, body control is superb, and that helps the car inspire confidence on the move. Completing the impressive dynamic package are the slick gearshift and powerful brakes. The car is proving easy to live with, too: my old 370Z was more practical than its predecessor, but the RCZ shows its Japanese rival needs to go much further.
The Peugeot’s 309-litre boot is deep and wide, while you can fold down the rear seats for more room, proving good looks needn’t come at the expense of practicality.
Apart from the stiff ride, my main gripe is that those thick roof rails restrict your view out, while the double-bubble rear screen does strange things to your depth perception when reversing. Our flagship GT has parking sensors as standard – along with Bluetooth, leather seats and climate control – and you really need them.
What I’m really impressed with is the value for money. In range-topping GT spec, this coupé – which turns as many heads as a supercar – costs £25,595. This is by no means pocket change, but it’s nearly £10,000 cheaper than my old 370Z – and for that you get a brilliant driving experience, tonnes of standard kit and decent fuel economy (I’m averaging around 30mpg at the moment).
A recent puncture resulted in an eye-watering £347 bill for a front tyre from Kwik Fit, and the automatic adjustment of the adaptive headlights has started to play up, so I’ll need to make a trip to my local dealer soon. But for the moment, I’m not letting either spoil my love affair.
“The RCZ THP 200 was my biggest motoring surprise of 2010. When I drove it on the launch in Spain, I was shocked at how accomplished it was – and taking the wheel of Sam’s car confirmed the Peugeot works just as well on UK roads.”
Senior Road Tester