Power to stir the pulse

With per­for­mance to match its racy looks, the RCZ-R is turn­ing heads, CHRIS RI­LEY writes.

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

THE stan­dard Peu­geot RCZ is a head turner.

This one not only gets the looks but has the per­for­mance to match, with enough grunt to take the car into a new league.

The RCZ-R boxes way above its weight, with the kind of at­trac­tion nor­mally re­served for su­per cars – and Alfa Romeos for some rea­son.

VALUE

Priced from $68,990, Peu­geot is of­fer­ing just 30 ex­am­ples of this fire­brand here in Aus­tralia.

Stan­dard equip­ment in­cludes leather, sat­nav, front and rear park­ing sen­sors, sports leather trimmed steer­ing wheel, au­to­matic lights and wipers, 19inch al­loys and twin sports ex­haust.

DE­SIGN

Wow. The sleek ex­te­rior is matched by the race-in­spired cabin, which fea­tures red high­lights to dis­tin­guish it from the stan­dard car.

Trim is a mix of leather, car­bon fi­bre and brushed metal fin­ishes. An alu­minium plaque be­tween the seats is em­bossed with the Peu­geot Sport sig­na­ture.

A 208 GTi-style alu­minium gear knob with red col­lars adorns the shift lever, with red stitch­ing on the dash­board, gear lever cover, sports steer­ing wheel, cen­tral arm­rest and the door arm­rest.

TECH­NOL­OGY

This is the most pow­er­ful ver­sion yet of the 1.6-litre four cylin­der en­gine that not only pow­ers the RCZ, but also Peu­geot’s 208 GTi, the Citroen DS3 and, of course, the Mini.

The big dif­fer­ence is that this one puts out 199kW of power and 330Nm of torque, com­pared to Mini’s Grand Prix Edi­tion that only man­ages 160kW and 280Nm.

How do they do it? The go­fast guys at Peu­geot Sport have re­built and re­in­forced the en­gine and added a larger twin­scroll tur­bocharger, as well as forged Mahle alu­minium pis­tons, stronger con­rods and bear­ings com­bined with larger ex­trac­tors and a unique twin ex­haust sys­tem.

The re­sult is a car that ac­cel­er­ates a full half sec­ond faster than the best Mini can muster, with the dash from 0100km/h tak­ing just 5.9 sec­onds. You get all this with fuel con­sump­tion that is rated at just 6.3 litres/100km.

SAFETY

Five stars but it has only four airbags. The pedes­tri­an­friendly bon­net pops up in an ac­ci­dent and it comes with elec­tronic trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol, ABS with elec­tronic brake force dis­tri­bu­tion, emer­gency brake as­sist, hill as­sist func­tion, cruise con­trol and speed lim­iter and speed sen­si­tive power steer­ing.

DRIV­ING

It sounds too good to be true but we were de­lighted to find it lived up to the prom­ise.

The RCZ-R rides on 19-inch al­loys, with 10mm lower sus­pen­sion and shocks that were de­vel­oped in-house just like the old days. The front end is 14 per cent stiffer, the rear 44 per cent stiffer and it has Al­con four-pis­ton stop­pers.

The six-speed man­ual box has been re­in­forced to han­dle the ex­tra power, with gear ra­tios that have been de­signed to specif­i­cally to max­imise the 0100km/h sprint and pro­vide the best avail­able mid-range ac­cel­er­a­tion times.

The RCZ-R makes all the right noises whether you’re on or off the throt­tle.

The main prob­lem is get­ting all that grunt to ground through the front wheels, be­cause the car re­mains front-wheel drive.

Most of the time it is not an is­sue, but try­ing to keep the car steady with one hand while chang­ing gears with the other on any­thing but flat road re­quires some skill. A handy hill holder pre­vents the car rolling back­wards in traf­fic while a torsen lim­ited slip diff pre­vents the car from mov­ing around un­der brakes and al­lows it to hold a tighter line through cor­ners.

Where the RCZ-R comes into its own is punch­ing from cor­ner to cor­ner, com­ing out fast and brak­ing con­fi­dently.

VER­DICT

We like. Looks good from most an­gles, es­pe­cially the rear with its sig­na­ture twin bub­ble roof. Bot­tom line is it’s fun to drive. Four stars out of five.

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