‘R’ RATES AMONG THE BEST

PEU­GEOT GEM GETS THE SU­PER CAR TREAT­MENT

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Chris Ri­ley

PEU­GEOT'S stan­dard RCZ is a head turner.

The R ver­sion 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.

Priced from $68,990, Peu­geot is of­fer­ing just 30 ex­am­ples of this fire­brand here in Aus­tralia, so you had bet­ter be quick.

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

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

A large, cool ana­logue-style clock dom­i­nates the dash, with trim that is a mix of leather, car­bon-fi­bre and brushed metal fin­ishes.

An alu­minium plaque be­tween the seats is em­bossed with the Peu­geot Sport signa- ture, a mo­tif that is re­peated on the seat backs and alu­minium door sills.

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

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 the Mini.

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

To point out the bleed­ingly ob­vi­ous, that's a rather large dif­fer­ence. How do they do it? The go-fast guys at Peu­geot Sport have re­built and re­in­forced the en­gine and added a larger twin-scroll tur­bocharger, as well as forged Mahle alu­minium pis­tons, stronger con­rods and bear­ings com­bined with larger ex­trac­tors and a unique twin ex­haust sys­tem.

The end re­sult is a car that ac­cel­er­ates a full half-sec­ond faster than the best Mini can muster, with the dash from 0-100km/h tak­ing just 5.9 seconds.

You get all this with fuel con­sump­tion that is rated at just 6.3 litres/100km.

It has a five-star safety rat­ing and a pedes­trian-friendly bon­net that pops up in an ac­ci­dent, and it comes with elec­tronic trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol, ABS with Elec­tronic Brake Force Dis­tri­bu­tion (EBD), Emer­gency Brake As­sist (EBA), hill as­sist func­tion, cruise con­trol and speed lim­iter, and speed sen­si­tive power steer­ing.

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

The RCZ-R’s has 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 is fit­ted with Al­con four-pis­ton stop­pers.

The six-speed man­ual box has been re­in­forced to han­dle the ex­tra power, with gear ra­tios that have been de­signed specif­i­cally to max­imise the 0-100km/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, with a sur­pris­ing amount of punch from the small en­gine.

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 a flat piece of tar­mac re­quires more than a lit­tle skill as it bucks from side to side.

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 with lit­tle or no turbo lag in this sce­nario.

It can even man­age steep hair­pins with­out hav­ing to stop and change down to first. Pretty im­pres­sive stuff. Ver­dict: We like. Looks good from most an­gles, es­pe­cially the rear with its sig­na­ture twin bub­ble roof. Bot­tom line it's fun to drive and that's what mat­ters most.

The Peu­geot RCZ-R looks good, goes even bet­ter.

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