I was talking to someone at Peugeot the other day about the new RCZ and its importance for the brand. In a roundabout way I wanted to broach the subject of whether this could indicate a return to the affordable sporting Peugeots that are so sorely missed.
I thought he would be very defensive of the company’s position and refute any suggestion it had turned its back on fast cars, but it wasn’t the case. Instead the chap was very understanding and said it had been Peugeot’s desire to become a "responsible" brand, hence the more sensible approach, and this had now been achieved. Now it was time to go back to "re-establish our sporting credentials" where his exact words.
The RCZ is a push by the company to inject a bit of fun back into their products (while still being responsible of course). The press release that came with the RCZ is filled with words like "driving enjoyment", "performance", "responsive" and "agile".
We shall have to wait and see whether any of this translates to the road but I sense Peugeot is serious about reasserting itself as a sporting manufacturer. The turbocharged engine is the same as in the Mini Cooper for a start and while 200bhp is not ground breaking it’s a good lag-free unit and the RCZ is likely to not weigh much more than the Cooper.
Then there’s the design of the RCZ. It’s very easy to dismiss as just another pretty coupe, especially if you are more of a hot hatch fan like me. But I was staggered by the detailing on the RCZ, which makes the TT look a bit plain.
Take the roof. The Zagato double-bubble is not new but just take a look at the work that has gone into the curved glass. The roof is also available in carbon fibre which, I am told, will be affordable and no more than a few hundred pounds.
There are no front wings on the car, which saves weight, and creates an unusual clamshell bonnet. The rear of the RCZ has a Cayman feel to it and the spoiler, says the company, raises on its front edge and looks like the wing on the back of a Porsche 911.
All this starting at less than £20K according to predictions. If this thing drives anywhere near as good as a 205 GTI Peugeot could be on to a winner. A 107 Rallye next please.