The Peugeot RCZ is a striking coupe that was an instant success when launched in 2010. It was designed to rival more expensive coupes from Germany. The RCZ easily matches them in visual impact.
The small sports car is all about its looks. Underneath the – admittedly amazing looking - skin is a choice of normal front-mounted mainstream engines, which drive the front wheels. The RCZ’s body is a truly innovative design, with a ‘double-bubble’ cockpit roof curving down into the rear window.
It looks unusual but has a practical benefit in channelling rainwater quickly away. Sadly, a convertible version was never offered.
There are also aluminium-effect pillars, chunky wheel-arches, knife-slash headlamps and a self-raising rear spoiler, which combine to give the RCZ real road presence.
The small sports car is all about its looks.
What’s it like to drive?
The Peugeot RCZ looks like a mini supercar with the mechanical trimmings of a hot hatchback. This gives it similar handling and performance too, whether you choose a petrol or diesel engine.
It’s light and easy to drive around town, offering plenty of thrills when out on the open road. You don’t need to be a racing driver to enjoy its tight handling and nippy character.
A hotter – and pricier - RCZ-R version did appear in 2013. This model has sportier performance and trim, and is aimed at performance enthusiasts.
The Peugeot RCZ looks like a mini supercar with the mechanical trimmings of a hot hatchback.
All the Peugeot designers’ attention definitely went on the exterior. With soft touch surfaces and neat layout, the inside of the RCZ could have come from a nice quality hatchback – although it is obviously less roomy.
The back seats are well formed with the sloping roofline meaning they’re only for children and smaller adults. There’s not a lot of legroom either. The front has more head and shoulder space. It’s still less spacious than hatchback owners will be used to.
The driver gets a nice chunky sports steering wheel and a low-slung driving position. The RCZ is generally well equipped and with that low seating position, the front occupants will feel most journeys are a bit special. Even the most basic model comes with Bluetooth, air-con and rear-parking sensors.
There was a much-trumpeted refresh of the range in 2013. Honestly, you’ll be hard pressed to spot the differences. More important will be which of the long list of options and customisations the original buyer chose. Any used RCZ might come with extra luxuries like heated leather seats, superior JBL hi-fi and clever directional Xenon headlamps. Buyers could also equip their RCZ with sat-nav or automatic gearboxes and even different coloured trims and choices of alloy wheel designs.
Lift the RCZ’s tailgate and you’ll find a boot that’s bigger than you’d expect. And while the back seats may be cramped for passengers, when folded down they create an even bigger load space. If you don’t need to carry 4 people, the RCZ suddenly looks like quite a versatile, practical proposition.
All models come with handy features like electric windows and mirrors, multi-adjustable steering column and cruise control.
One annoying detail to note though: the RCZ didn’t come with a spare wheel to save weight and space. There’s a tyre inflation system instead. If you worry about punctures, look for a car that came with a spare tyre which was an extra cost option.
Running costs and reliability
The RCZs are available with either petrol or diesel engines. All are good tried-and-tested punchy powerplants and for this type of car they are very thrifty on fuel. The well-known Peugeot diesel returns up to 53mpg and the petrol models over 40mpg. Other running costs are much less than rival sports cars.
Also consider that the lack of a prestige badge affects depreciation badly – so used buyers can find good bargains.
Because of all those shared mechanical bits, the RCZ’s reliability also isn’t bad – it’s roughly the same as other Peugeots, which have gained an improved reputation over the last few years.
What cinch loves
The main reason for buying the Peugeot RCZ will be its looks. It’s a unique car with exciting styling. You don’t get a prestige badge. You also don’t pay prestige prices either. It’s as easy as a hatchback to drive and almost as cheap as one to own and if you aren’t worried about the cramped back seats it can make a surprisingly practical vehicle.