When something is good-looking, you just cannot stop looking at it. In some instances of course you cannot keep staring (like if you see a pretty girl standing next to you), but when I took the Peugeot RCZ for a test drive, I stood there for five minutes just staring at the car. White is a good colour for it and flatters its sexy curves that roll around the car, reminding me of the Audi TT.
For once, this is a Peugeot that has no numbers in its model name. It has this concave rear windscreen because of its ‘double bubble’ design, but it does not contort the rear view visuals in any way.
This two-door coupe that I took out for a drive is the six-speed automatic version has the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine which churns out 156bhp at 6,000rpm and 240Nm at 1,600rpm, while taking nine seconds to hit 100km/h from rest.
There is also a six-speed manual variant that you might want to consider if you want more – 200bhp at 5,800rpm and 275Nm at 1,700rpm. The automatic version is probably more suited for such a car – good looking and more of a cruiser than a power-pushing workhorse.
Peugeot has stopped producing high performance cars but the RCZ is not so much a performance sports car, going up against the base model Audi TT instead of the Audi TT-S or TT-RS. When swung hard into a corner, the RCZ does well to keep its four paws quite firmly on the ground.
Should you encounter any over or under steer, the car switches around and recovers quite quickly; probably due to its low centre of gravity. The RCZ is built based on the 308 platform but is wider by 30mm, and also has wider front and rear tracks.
The engine on idle is quite noisy from the outside, but on the inside of the well-insulated cabin this cannot be heard. With electronic seats for both front passengers, you can adjust the seats easily.
There are rear seats – complete with seat belts – but I would not exactly call them seats because it can hardly fit one adult comfortably. A good thing that came out of the compromised rear seat space is the rather spacious boot though, which is not a usual expectation of a coupe.
I liked the pseudo carbon fibre background of the tachometer and the speedometer, but felt that the display screen on the dashboard for the audio system and clock seemed not to match the classy feel the cabin projected.
Lately, it seems like the glove compartments of cars are becoming less important. Of the 10 cars I have last test driven, only two had decent glove compartments that could fit my A5-sized filofax in. The rest, like the one in the RCZ, was so small it can only fit small pocket items.
Of all modern cars in recent times, this is the most basic steering wheel I have come across. Nowadays, the steering wheels have audio controls and other functions on it but the flat-bottomed one in the RCZ is free of such buttons and with no paddle shifts either, with nothing except for the horn. The cruise control and audio buttons are behind the steering wheel instead.
For less than $10,000, you can get the manual-driven RCZ but along with the performance upgrade you also get goodies like carbon fibre roof, xenon headlights, tyre pressure sensors and a JBL sound system.
Peugeot RCZ 1.6 (A)
Engine: 1,598cc turbocharged
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Max Power: 156bhp at 6,000rpm
Max Torque: 240Nm at 1,600rpm
0-100km/h: 9.0 secs
Top Speed: 212 km/h
Price: $179,900 with COE
(+) Good looks, sufficient engine push, generous boot space
(-) Can do without the rear seats entirely
Conclusion: A definite crowd pleaser!
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
*This was first published in 9tro.