June Neary on Peugeot's curvaceous coupe
Will It Suit Me?
Some cars take some time to grow on you, wheedling their way into your affections through solidly worthy virtues such as practicality, reliability and cost of ownership. The Peugeot RCZ is not one of these cars. Few cars pack quite such an instant hit of desirability into such an affordable package. The first time I saw Peugeot's pretty coupe was as a design study and I never believed it would look anything like that as a finished road car. Yet here it is, the delivery driver has handed me the keys and yes, I'm already thinking of ways that I can chop my current runner in for one. It's certainly a striking looking car and a welcome diversion from the styling direction Peugeot has been pursuing in the last few years. Yes, it is a little derivative in its overall silhouette, the Audi TT never far from your mind, but so voluptuous are the curves and so exotic is its stance, sat foursquare over its chunky alloy wheels that it looks as if it's just escaped from a motor show stand.
Let's get one thing straight. This is a sleek coupe and it's never going to fulfil duty as any sort of convincing load-lugger, but that said, the Peugeot RCZ isn't a car where toothbrush, credit card and underpants is your weekend luggage allowance. The boot is shallow but wide and long and holds a decent 384litres. You'll probably need to have the right shaped bags to make the most of that carrying capacity but it's easily enough for my weekly shop. Just make sure that you don't put anything tall under the bootlid when you try to slam it shut. Fold the rear seats and you've got 760-litres to play with. Keep the rear seats in place and there's room for a couple of small kids, but putting adults in there for anything other than the shortest journey will soon see you being de-friended.
Behind the Wheel
The driving position is low slung, and the high waistline of the car may make shorter drivers feel a little claustrophobic. The large steering wheel also feels fairly imposing but the driving position offers a decent range of adjustments to give yourself breathing room. The major controls aren't anything particularly out of the ordinary and there are some very nice touches about the cabin, although the overall ambience is lifted considerably by choosing the optional extended leather pack. My test car featured the 1.6THP engine, a turbocharged petrol number that offers more than enough zip without generating winceworthy fuel bills. There is a diesel option available for those looking to save on fuel and cut their emissions but a car like this is all about looking good and having fun while doing it. If I need to save a few pounds, I'll have to knock Waitrose on the head and go to Tesco instead. The payoff is worth it in the shape of the perky petrol Peugeot.
Value For Money
Although the RCZ is, under its designer threads, based on the humble 308 hatchback, it's still special enough to command a premium price but judged against similarly sassy looking coupes such as the Audi TT or the Alfa Romeo Brera, it's a compelling value proposition. The 1.6THP test car we sampled weighed in at £21,245, and you'd need over £27,000 to put yourself into the base model TT coupe and over £25,000 to land an Alfa. Couched in those terms, the Peugeot - which is probably more visually arresting than either - looks a screaming deal.
Could I Live With One?
I'm starting to make all sorts of justifications for this car. I know that if I was to buy one, I'd need to buy a second car that could do the school run and other workaday duties, leaving the Peugeot RCZ for high days and holidays. As coupes go, it's an easy one to live with and one that's fun to drive and better built than you might be expecting. You'll have to excuse me for a moment, I'm off to search the classifieds for an old 4x4. One step at a time.