Oh for heaven’s sake, at least make it a fair contest.
Sure, the Peugeot RCZ is an attractive car and at its best in the 266bhp R form you see here. It has a fizzy turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, keen front-wheel drive handling and a real limited-slip differential and it costs not much more than £30k. All of which is competitive. All of its numbers are consistent with those of its peers in the new car market.
But, er, well. If you want to see an example of how unfair on new metal the used car market can be, take a look at the other £30k-ish car above. It’s also an attractive 2+2 coupé with hopeless rear seats, but the similarities just about finish there.
It’s a four-year-old Jaguar XKR, a rear-wheel-drive coupé with a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 that would usually make 503bhp. Usually, that is, had owner Edward Boyden not had its induction and exhausts breathed on to help it make about 600bhp.
So what more do you want to know? That seems to about wrap things up, to me. I like the RCZ R quite a lot. Latest 208 GTi aside, I think it’s the best car the company has made for an extremely long time. But which car enthusiast at which car website is going to recommend a 1.6-litre front-driver over one with rear-wheel drive, a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 and the staggering shortage of traction for which Jaguars are known?
Still, let’s have a go, eh? The Peugeot deserves that much at least, because it is, let’s face it, pretty. It’s pleasing enough inside, too, with decent, supportive seats and a wide range of steering column adjustment, compensating to an extent for some slightly awkward pedal and gearshift actions.
Where it’s better than most other Peugeots in general, and RCZs in particular, is in the way that it drives. Its ride is firmish but far from harsh, and it’s impressively composed. It steers pretty fluently, too. There’s some torque steer, of course, because the engine is boosty and the limited-slip diff amplifies that sort of thing. But the benefit is traction beyond that expected of a 250bhp-plus front-driver and a degree of mid-corner throttle adjustability. It’s a good car.