Peugeot RCZ Sport THP200 Coupé

In Car Reviews by Bill Dent October 4, 2013

I approached the RCZ with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.

How would this stylish machine, crouching aggressively on the tarmac in front of me, compare with my great (possibly rose-tinted?) memories of 1.9 205 GTI ownership. And might I look like a hairdresser?

Initial signs were all positive – the children clamoured to be taken on the school run in it, as it looked so great and my first blast away from a roundabout clearly showed me I was back in familiar fast Peugeot territory, and several leagues beyond that… all without a blow-dryer in sight.

Despite the supercar looks, I was happy to find some familiar, well designed, Peugeot controls; and wow, even a handy fold-down rear seat back allowing extended access to the boot, to boot. Another practical sports car from Peugeot, indeed.

My time with the car improved on every meeting: again and again I enjoyed the freely available power and acceleration, delivered without undue drama or histrionics. And all cost-effectively, too, as we managed over 39mpg, even in this ‘sports’ variant, in our time with the car.

Though possibly a bit ‘uninvolving’, the RCZ seemed happy, and indeed demanded, to be pushed hard at every opportunity. Cornering, the car stuck to the road well, with or without EPS; it always inspired confidence under a wide variety of dry and wet conditions. Unlike, it has to be said, its venerated 205 predecessor….

A 600-mile round trip for a University Open day in Durham produced none of the problems that I thought it might. Indeed , the father/son road-trip bonding session was still well underway, even as we reached the end of a marathon journey – unaffected by road noise, strained seating positions, or other hassles that could well have been predicted, on first sight, from a car that looks this good.

Though our two earlier guinea-pig backseat testers (not much bigger than guinea-pigs, to be honest) were realistically not going to be very happy in the back for any journey lasting much more than 20 minutes, my front seat passenger was pleased to note that he had the exactly the same extent & variety of seating controls on his side of the car as I did on mine. Apart from a slightly mean single cup holder, this is a great car for two (and for a surprisingly large amount of their luggage.)

The “reconstructed” exhaust growl, which I had thought would drive me demented, actually proved perfectly pitched, satisfying enough to signal that the car was being driven as it should be, but without apparently causing any offence or disturbance to our fellow road-users. From them, the RCZ received only approving glances.

This is a car that looks suitably dramatic on the outside, with its ‘pouncing’ stance, active spoiler and superbly fashioned double-bubble roof, but one which remains calm, easy, and even understated, on the inside.

Maybe, indeed, that is a big part of its appeal, and why the RCZ will, I am sure, is leading Peugeot back into the mid-cost high-thrill sports motoring territory that it once dominated.