‘R’ RATES AMONG THE BEST
PEUGEOT GEM GETS THE SUPER CAR TREATMENT
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 raceinspired 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 signature, 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.