This weekend I had my first taste of Autocar’s Peugeot RCZ long-termer.
To be completely frank, I had rather ignored the RCZ. However, the more time I spent with it just pottering around, the more I came to quite like it. The cabin is nicely trimmed in leather, the stereo is punchy and the driving position gives the driver an out-of the ordinary sensation.
And spend time looking hard at the styling and there’s some real originality lurking. I love the long, flat, rear deck (especially the way the fuel filler cuts into the boot lid’s shutline) and the stand-alone silver roof pillars. Pity about the stock gaping mouth.
Rattling around the capital, quite a few people looked twice, but many looked right over it. It’s a pity that the RCZ didn’t get a completely fresh front-end treatment to set it apart from its humdrum sister cars.
However, the overwhelming impression left by the RCZ was the difficulty in seeing out of it. The steeply-raked screen, low roof, fat A-pillars, fat rear view mirror and even the wing mirrors combined to make it quite hard to see what was happening on city streets.
Low autumnal sun forced me to drop the sun visor which, even though it was quite slim, left me with the impression that I was driving a particularly well-appointed tank.
It’s a serious issue. Pedestrians waiting at crossings had an alarming habit of vanishing behind the pillar for a second or two. Arriving at a junction as the first car, and it was completely impossible to see the traffic lights, no matter how much I craned my head.
To be fair, this is a problem with many cars. The French have the common sense to fit small repeaters on traffic light pole, so the first car in the queue can see the lights changing.
Anyway, when I came to squeeze the RCZ into a parking space, I got a proper shock. The view out of the rear of the car (a complex, wraparound screen) is quite exceptional. It’s an exceptional widescreen view, as clear as the front is obstructed.
The RCZ’s distinctive styling does have one very weird quirk. Turn around and you cannot see any of the car’s lengthy tail. In fact, this picture gives a very accurate impression of the optical oddity delivered to the driver. You get a genuine sense that the RCZ terminates immediately behind the rear jump seats.
You really feel that the RCZ could be turned back-to-front.