Peugeot RCZ coupe
Price £22,350 - £28,650
- Show car looks
- Punchy, economical engines
- Value for money
- Cramped rear seats
- Limited storage space
- Poor visibility
At a glance
"The Peugeot RCZ is attractive and exciting to drive, as well as being economical and relatively practical."
With ground-hugging bodywork and a curvaceous roof, the Peugeot RCZ is a radical departure from the hatchbacks and MPVs for which the French company is best known. The RCZ was built to be France's answer to the hugely successful Audi TT and it also finds itself in the same class as the Volkswagen Scirocco, Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ.
The RCZ has a luxurious interior for front passengers but the rear seats are strictly for contortionists, small children and shopping bags thanks to a lack of both headroom and legroom. The boot, however, is surprisingly spacious. A recent makeover has updated the exterior with a dainty grille and headlights, bringing it up to date with Peugeot's latest models. Engine choices include a frugal diesel or a 1.6-litre petrol engine that can be had with either 156 or 200bhp. The Peugeot RCZ-R coupe, reviewed separately, is a bona fide performance car.
It might not appeal to driving enthusiasts as much as the rear-wheel drive Toyota GT86, or be able to compete with the prestige of an Audi TT, but for those who simply want a good-value coupe with stunning looks the Peugeot RCZ is a winner.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Very economical for a sporty coupe
If you plan on spending lots of time on the motorway the 2.0-litre HDi diesel is a clear winner, returning 54.3mpg and costing £130 per year in road tax with emissions of 135g/km. For those who make shorter trips, the petrol 1.6 THP 156 isn’t far behind, returning 44.1mpg and emitting 149g/km, with a £145 tax bill.
Choose the more powerful 1.6 THP 200 model and economy drops to 42.1mpg and CO2 emissions go up to 155g/km, costing £180 each year in tax. Just one automatic gearbox is available, fitted to the low power petrol model, and unlike the best systems from Audi and Volkswagen it harms fuel economy. With the automatic gearbox the RCZ is capable of 38.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 168g/km, making it expensive to tax at £205 per year.
While these figures make the RCZ almost identical to the Audi TT and cheaper to run than the thirsty Toyota GT86, it’s less economical than the Scirocco. That car manages a maximum of 67.3mpg with a diesel and 52.3mpg with a petrol engine. Meanwhile, the cleanest Vauxhall Astra GTC diesel beats them all with 72.4mpg, but its best petrol engine only manages 47.9mpg.
Engines, drive & performance
Brilliant fun to drive thanks to accurate steering and a precise gearbox
Stick with petrol power and there’s a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with either 156bhp or 200bhp. Both feel fast, accelerating from 0-62mph in 8.3 and 7.6 seconds respectively and reaching top speeds of more than 130mph. The diesel engine has 163bhp and reaches 62mph in 8.7 seconds, with lots of power when you need to overtake or accelerate on to a motorway.
The RCZ is Peugeot’s most fun car for years, with precise steering and very little body roll in corners. Choose the 200bhp petrol and it’s even more entertaining, with suspension more focused on excitement and a smaller steering wheel to offer an almost race car feel. For those seeking the last word in drive involvement, the rear-wheel drive GT86 will be even more fun and satisfying, but for day-to-day driving, the RCZ is the better all-rounder.
Interior & comfort
Balances good handling and comfort very well
The interior is spacious for front passengers, with comfortable seats in entry-level Sport trim. GT and special edition Red Carbon models feature leather upholstery. Material quality took a step up from previous Peugeots when the RCZ was launched and despite only costing as much as some family hatchbacks, there’s a sports car feel to the interior. Our only complaint is that some of the switches and buttons aren’t as clearly laid out or as upmarket as those you’ll find in the Scirocco or TT.
Peugeots engineers have given the RCZ a sporty ride to match its looks but comfort is perfectly acceptable, particularly as speeds increase. Unusually, not even the 19-inch alloy wheels fitted to GT and Red Carbon versions upset the ride quality too much.
While visibility out of the back of the RCZ is surprisingly good for a sports coupe, a low-slung driving position means all-around vision is never going to be as good as a taller, more upright car but, fortunately, rear-parking sensors are fitted as standard. The car’s roof rails are stylish but they also create a large blind spot at either side of the windscreen.
The RCZ has a great driving position but the pedals are quite high, which longer-legged drivers might find to be a bit uncomfortable.
Practicality & boot space
Features a surprisingly large boot
The RCZ is classed as a ‘2+2’ seater, which means there’s lots of room for two front passengers but only enough space for two rather than three people in the back. Adults would have to be willing to squeeze in for very short journeys. A lack of headroom and legroom makes the rear seats more suitable for small children and soft bags. If you need to carry four passengers, the Scirocco or Hyundai Veloster will do a better job.
So long as the rear seating isn’t an issue, the RCZ is surprisingly practical, with a large 384-litre boot. This beats the competition, including the 292 litres of both the Scirocco and TT, as well as the 243-litre boot space found in the GT86. The Peugeot’s rear seats also split and fold, freeing up additional space for longer trips and bulkier items. A large hatchback gives good access, but lifting items over the rear bumper requires some muscle. Sadly there’s also no room for a spare wheel; a puncture repair kit is supplied as standard instead.
Storage spaces in the cabin are also tight, with a tiny glovebox, one small cupholder in the centre console and door bins that are quite hard to reach while driving.
Reliability & safety
Peugeot has a questionable reputation for reliability
Peugeot has jumped up from 31st to 14th overall in the 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, which is proof its more recent models are a vast improvement on older ones. Not only that, but the RCZ came 20th out of 150 models, making it the top sports car and placing it ahead of the Scirocco in 59th and the Audi TT way back in 104th position.
Unfortunately, the RCZ hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP, but as most Peugeot models achieve the full five-star score, we expect that the RCZ would also perform well. It’s fitted with four airbags as standard, as well as technology to help prevent skids. Tyre pressure sensors are included to warn you of a puncture and there are ISOFIX anchor points for a child car seat.
Price, value for money & options
Well equipped and cheaper than the Audi TT
The RCZ significantly undercuts the Audi TT, the model it was designed to compete against. And while the Peugeot badge isn’t as upmarket as Audi’s four rings, the RCZ offers good value while also being a rarer sight on the road. Standard equipment is also impressive, with the entry-level Sport model fitted with sports seats, dual-zone air-con, automatic lights and wipers, rear parking sensors, 18-inch alloy wheels, USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Upgrading to GT adds front parking sensors, leather upholstery with heated seats, a sports steering wheel and 19-inch wheels.
Temping options include sat-nav for £735, an uprated JBL sound system for £420, and metallic or pearlescent paint, which cost £520 and £650 respectively. A ‘vision pack’ including Xenon headlamps that turn into corners costs £680.
Resale values have been excellent to date, particularly considering this is not usually a Peugeot strong point. The style, exclusivity and reputation of the RCZ separates it from more run-of-the-mill models and it’s very desirable on the used car market.