What is it?
Peugeot must be confident in the new RCZ R's ability to take the fight to rivals as compelling as the Porsche Cayman and Volkswagen Scirocco R, otherwise it wouldn't have stuck a £31,995 price tag on the car. So what do you get for your money with this new pumped-up version of Peugeot's TT, and is it worth it or not?
Beneath the bonnet sits a heavily reworked version of the 1.6 turbo that powers the regular RCZ, but in this case it produces an eye-watering 266bhp at 6000rpm and 243lb ft of torque at 1900rpm. That's sufficient to send the 1355kg R to 62mph in 5.9sec and to a top speed limited to 155mph. So initially, at least, the news is good; in a straight line the RCZ R can hold its head high beside the competition, even if its engine would appear to have been tuned to within a whisker of bursting point for a road application.
Chassis-wise the specification appears similarly convincing. The suspension is fundamentally unchanged but the springs are stiffer, the dampers of a higher specification, the anti-roll bars beefier and, best of all, there's a new Torsen differential at the front to ensure that most, if not all of those 266 horses don't go galloping off down the road unchecked.
The R also rides 10mm lower than normal and has wider tracks front and rear, more aggressive camber settings at the front and bigger brake discs at both ends. And alongside various new aerodynamic enhancements and a matt-black roof, visually it is distinguished from lesser RCZ's thanks to its chromed sports exhaust pipes, and by four bespoke new colours; black, red, white and grey.
What's it like?
Surprisingly tidy. And we didn't expect to be writing that.
You notice the improvements to the chassis, and to the engine, pretty much from the moment you start to move. The steering has a meaty directness to it that's simply not there in the regular version, and the performance is genuinely strong considering there are but 1.6 litres humming away beneath the bonnet. And yet the ride, certainly on the fairly smooth roads of southern France that we tried the car on, is still acceptably comfortable. Despite the numerous suspension upgrades, this is still a decently refined car.
But the biggest surprise is that it's also properly engaging on the move. The acceleration is strong, the exhaust note suitably fruity, the gear change clean and precise. The body control is also taut and precise, and the Torsen diff works particularly well at generating traction while producing no more than a whiff of torque steer.
We're not talking about Cayman levels of interaction between man and machine here, but neither are we talking about a car that is beige dynamically, either. There is both fun and speed to be found at the wheel of the well equipped RCZ R, and yet for some reason i didn't expect expect to find much of either.
Should I buy one?
Peugeot says it hopes to sell around 300 RCZ Rs during the next 12 months, which will account for approximately 10 per cent of total RCZ sales. But it also says it has the flexibility to build more if the demand is there.
On this albeit fairly brief evidence, experienced on smoother roads than we have back in the UK, they might well need to crack open the corporate toolbox and make one or two more. Genuinely, the RCZ R is that much better than we thought it might be.