Peugeot RCZ: Final report

After more than 10,000 miles, we stage a spectacular farewell for our sparkling coupe

  • The RCZ’s looks still leave us breathless. When Peugeot took the wraps off the concept version at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, few of us dared to hope that it would put the car on sale unchanged – but incredible effort has gone into faithfully reproducing the sensational styling for the road version.
  • The ride started to get more uncomfortable as the miles piled on, unfortunately. All the tyre pressures had been regularly checked, so we could only conclude that the suspension bushes had started to wear. We’ve suffered similar problems with Renaultsport models.
Talk about going out with a bang… our beloved RCZ has left Auto Express to return to Peugeot, but not before it took part in a spectacular fireworks display for our New Car Awards photoshoot.
The fact it walked away with our coupe gong – holding on to the prize for a second year and beating the Audi TT and VW Scirocco – tells you just how highly we rate this sleek machine. But what was the RCZ like to live with? Was the experience a spectacular display from start to finish – or did it fizzle out like a cheap Catherine wheel?
Things started off well as soon as we picked up KX60 WNG. That amazing body was a hit with everyone at Auto Express. I’m still really impressed that Peugeot had the guts to take a concept and put it on to the road pretty much unchanged. The design certainly makes a huge impression – and that beauty is definitely more than skin-deep. In recent years Peugeots have been pretty, but they’ve either been poorly built or little fun to drive – or both.
The RCZ marks a real departure for the brand. Inside, there are plenty of soft-touch materials, decent leather (on our GT model) and neat detailing such as the huge clock on the centre console. What’s more, there’s plenty of room. You can put two small adults in the back, and the boot is huge for a coupe – I really relished it after previously running a cramped Nissan 370Z.
The RCZ is great fun to drive, too – although for real thrills you had better choose our GT 200 THP rather than the 156bhp petrol or 163bhp diesel. As well as a 1.6-litre turbo with 200bhp, it gets different suspension settings and a smaller steering wheel with a short-throw six-speed box.
As a result, it’s great fun to drive. The raspy engine really likes to be revved, producing thrilling turbo rush all the way to the red line. And the chassis is agile, grippy and responsive to a lift off the throttle mid-corner, tightening its line in an instant.
Our car had a few downsides. Both the screen washers and auto headlights developed intermittent faults, but of most concern was the ride. Sitting on big 19-inch wheels, you wouldn’t expect the RCZ to be particularly comfortable – but at the start of our test period it was. Firm, yes, but not crashy.
As the months went by, though, the ride deteriorated dramatically. Every speed bump sent a jolt through the cabin, while I found myself actively avoiding potholes and ruts. Motoring writer Luke Madden tested a totally fresh RCZ Asphalt back-to-back with our long-termer and found a huge difference in comfort, indicating a significant degree of wear and tear.
With only 10,000 miles on the clock, that would be a worry for me. But in every other respect I’ll really miss the RCZ. It does everything a coupe should do: it turns heads and puts a great big smile on your face.

Extra Info

“It’s easy to be bowled over by the RCZ’s design and overlook the car underneath. However, get behind the wheel and you’ll discover a fizzing powerplant and sharp chassis that recall the firm’s great hot hatches of the Eighties and Nineties.”
James Disdale, Deputy Road Test Editor

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