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Peugeot RCZ GT 1.6 THP

The turbo petrol version of the revised Peugeot RCZ coupe is the most sensible buy in the range

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4.0 out of 5

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The Peugeot RCZ hasn’t lost any of its charm in this mid-life facelift. It’s chic inside and out, well priced and has reasonable running costs. This 156bhp petrol engine strikes the best balance between performance and usability, too. The driving position’s awkward and it’s short on space, but the RCZ has substance and style in spades.

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We've already driven a diesel version of the updated Peugeot RCZ, but petrol power normally makes sense in a sports car like this. A 200bhp version of the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine is available, but we tried the less powerful and more economical 156bhp version in the newly facelifted coupe.

When a car looks as exciting as the RCZ, there’s no point in meddling with the styling too much, which is why exterior changes are limited to a more restrained two-part grille and sleeker new headlights.

Inside, there are more spec and colour choices, but the overall design is left well alone. Our test car was a top-spec GT, so benefited from a flat-bottom steering wheel and leather sports seats. The driving experience remains as exciting as ever, too. While it’s quiet around town, a stab of the throttle produces a burble from the exhaust and silky-smooth acceleration.

This engine obviously can’t match the 200bhp version for straight-line acceleration, or the diesel model for in-gear shove, but as a balance between performance and usability, it’s the sweet spot of the range.

On the downside, the ride is slightly firm, although the RCZ isn’t jarring and stays on course even through bumpy corners.

Taller drivers will find the driving position tricky, too. Set the steering and you’ll find the pedals are too far away; move the seat to correct this and it’s too close. But you can forgive a few imperfections once you sample the impressive grip, predictable handling and great brakes.

The best part is that running costs are entirely manageable for such a classy coupe. Figures of 44.1mpg and 149g/km of CO2 are a match for similarly powered petrol hatches. The price also undercuts the Audi TT by quite some way. In short, it’s difficult to find such an appealing blend of fashion, form and function without spending a whole lot more.

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