Peugeot RCZ-R: Road-Ready Go Fast Car-Porn

Peugeot RCZ R gaycarboys (3)

Peugeot RCZ R gaycarboys (1) Peugeot RCZ R gaycarboys (2)

Peugeot RCZ R gaycarboys (7) Peugeot RCZ R gaycarboys (8)

Yes Yes Yes oh YES: stunning looks, great engine, stunning looks (Yes I said it twice)

Oh dear me no: Price too harsh, ride too harsh, engine note too harsh

The Differences:

Peugeot was always known for its magic carpet-like ride and grip like a gecko on glass but things went a bit wrong with the “07” models. The 207 and 307 were simply awful, and the 407 sedan was a confused mess with a huge nose. Not happy with that, Peugeot brought out the catastrophically hideous 407 luxury coupe. Although the interior was quite nice, sooner or later you were going to have to look at the grim exterior. It had a gaping fish face and slab sided profile all topped off by the fattest arse in automotive history. We affectionately dubbed her The Good Ship Gina Rinehart. As if all that wasn’t bad enough, the performance of most models was abysmal in all but the top trim, and the sumptuous ride had gone horribly wrong and was now more like a cattle dray.

The 208, 308, 508 models partially corrected some of those misdemeanours but there hadn’t been a decent coupe since the delectable 406 coupe. It was designed by Italian designer and coachbuilder, Pininfarina and came with a silky 3.0L petrol engine. With its demise, Peugeot was left with a huge hole in its line-up, then came the RCZ.

We drove it and you can see what we said about it here.

The French know a thing or two about wine, baguettes and quirky cars.

Peugeot RCZ R gaycarboys (12)Even if you don’t fancy folding yourself into a modern compact coupe, the RCZ is the business. It has big fat 19” wheels and a graceful yet powerful lines. The roof has a “double bubble” George Jetson look and the headlights turn with the steering wheel. It looks like a crouching panther. It is delicious.

The original RCZ, as fabulous as it was, needed more power. All cars always need more power, and now RCZ-R has it. The stock RCZ has 147kw but the RCZ-R gained 52kw and is now a more than acceptable 199kw with 330Nm of torque. Bliss!

The rest of the figures are impressive too. The 0-100 sprint is done in a mere 5.9 seconds which is almost a second faster than the standard RCZ. The R weighs 17 kilos less, uses less fuel and produces less CO2 than the standard car. The R also has a carbon fibre roof and other weight savings, but it’s the steering, suspension and engine that make the biggest difference.

The engine is lovingly handmade, presumably by 18 vestal virgins. The forged F1-style aluminium pistons make the 1.6 turbo’s put out as much as a Holden V6. To put it in perspective, it is much more powerful than the V8’s found Early Commodores and Falcons and is from an engine the size of a shoe box. This is the most powerful 1.6 motor in the world.

Peugeot RCZ R gaycarboys (9)Peugeot RCZ R gaycarboys (6)

Peugeot knew the look was hot, so didn’t fiddle with the outside too much, thankfully. There is nothing worse than an overcooked pudding. They’ve thrown lots of “R” lettering at it to let other people know this owner spent much more money than the average Peugeot buyer. That should make them laugh, one way or another. I’m sad the say the pop-up rear spoiler has been binned in favour of a larger fixed spoiler on the boot lid. It makes the boot lid much lighter so it no longer slams shut in quiet underground car parks.

Peugeot RCZ R gaycarboys (5)Peugeot RCZ R gaycarboys (11)

Apart from the racing seats with the large “R” on them, the interior has some red “Look-At-Me” stitching. The rest is as it is in the base models, which is just as well. Hopefully the next upgrade will see steering wheel controls replace the ugly and awkward stalk mounted controls held over from older Peugeot Models.

The Drive:

Unbelievably, there is no smart entry/start so you still need a key which feels a bit last-century. At this price point a car needs every advantage it can get. As the engine fires into life you get the first sense of the engine note. It sounds great, at least for a bit.

Peugeot RCZ R gaycarboys (10)

The racing seats are surprisingly comfortable despite being very firm. They hug in all the right places and stop an enthusiastic driver from sliding uncontrollably in those faster corners. The grip is ferocious but even smallish ruts mid turn can upset the apple cart. I never switch the traction control off, ever. I did that once in an EVO X without realising the car had to be stationary to switch back to normal mode. Things went badly tits up in the very next corner, a mistake you only make once.

The R finds its electronic nannies very busy in fast corners as it tries desperately to keep you on the road. The torque steer from the front wheel drive is relatively mild thanks to a clever diff, but you are so busy you hardly notice. As I said before, only the most determined driver will unseat the R.

After a few hours on the road, the suspension becomes tiresome. Yes, the RCZ-R would be awesome on a babies-bum-smooth race track, but on the goat tracks in Sydney the ride is bone jarring. Cobbled streets would likely break the smaller bones of the human body. Should you encounter the bumpy bits mid corner, she becomes very skittish. Even if you’re ready for it, it is most unpleasant.

I wondered if it was any better on the highway, and it was but this is where the engine note become irritating. Many sports cars have a sports button. It makes things sharper and more annoying, and is perfect for when you want to stay awake, or irritate your hubby. The rest of the time it is better to be soothed and cosseted. An adjustable chassis and exhaust note would be a better option, and for this price I’d expect it.

There has been considerable investment in the engine and gearbox and the results are impressive. The response even in the city is brilliant. The 6 speed manual is sublime and almost shifts itself. There is just the right amount of feel and the whole experience feels sharp and precise.

The rear seats are for decoration unless your mates are height-challenged.

It is worth noting the original RCZ won GayCarBoys Gay Car of the Year.

Peugeot RCZ R gaycarboys (4)

Conclusion:

The drive is wonderful in certain situations, but for me this is not an everyday car. Without a softer suspension option, the harsh ride feels tiresome. I could imagine it being very irritating after a couple of months of use especially on longer drives. Of course some sections of the motoring fraternity will find these afflictions attractive, and good luck to them. You know the type: beards looking like they have been drawn on with a sharpie, baseball caps worn backwards, gaudy jewellery, and big loud mouths.

The RCZ-R costs $75,169 on the road in NSW. That is way too much. For that price you can go all posh and buy a Merc, BMW or Audi. Or, have a holiday on the 20 grand you would save buying the AWD Golf R. Remember the RCZR is only front wheel drive. Don’t get me wrong I love the 147kw RCZ very much. I’d even take the 2.0L diesel which has only 120kw, but the same torque as the RCZ-R. The RCZ-R is more than $10,000 more than the stock RCZ, but not $10,000 better. The ride is way too harsh and the engine note way too intrusive. For me this is a miss.

Would I buy one? No. There is way too much choice in this price range. I’d add a few extra bucks and buy a BMW M235i which is a proper rear wheels drive sports car. If I absolutely had to have an R I’d go for the manual 147kw turbo petrol for a still-too-expensive-$65,000. If the RCZ-R had adjustable suspension and was 20k cheaper the answer would be very different. The RCZ-R costs about $12,000 less in the UK and Europe at around $62,000aud. Annoying isn’t it?

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