The weight of brilliant Peugeots from the past has worn heavily on the shoulders of Peugeot’s executives during recent years. Its cars – from the company once famous for ‘the drive of your life’, you’ll remember – have lately struggled to offer the best drive you’ve had that day. And Peugeot has known it, meaning a great deal is expected of the RCZ.

It is a car that Peugeot acknowledges and hopes will mark a turning point: that from here on in, it will be making interesting cars that are entertaining to drive.

To a small extent, the tide has already turned. The 3008 and 5008 have both featured chassis dynamics that are a marked step-up from, say, the 207 and 307. It’s a trait that has continued with the new 508.

The RCZ, though, is meant to represent a marked progression again. Peugeot calls this the first of a new range of ‘special cars’ meant to add an edge of exclusiveness to a French marque better known for big-selling small cars.

This is the car, and the point in time, from which it would like us to judge its future product.

How significant does Peugeot think the RCZ is? Put it this way: in its history, it has until now never created a passenger car that doesn’t have a ‘0’ or two in the middle of its name.

Top 5 Sport coupes

  • BMW M4
    The new M4 is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight six engine that puts out 425bhp and 406lb ft

    BMW M4

    1
  • Audi RS5 coupé
    The hottest 444bhp version of the A5 coupé range closes in on the BMW M3

    Audi RS5

    2
  • Alpina B4 Biturbo
    The B4 is Alpina's answer to the BMW M4

    Alpina B4 Biturbo

    3
  • Lexus RC-F

    Lexus RC F

    4

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run