Test driven and written by Adrian Erdedi for www.AdrianErdedi.com
As I walked out of The Riverview Hotel in Balmain after an amazing lunch, I saw the Peugeot RCZ drive past me on the street, with a halo around it’s roof and the scene in slow motion. There was an angel passing me.
One of the most stunning cars I’ve seen on the road in a long time, I couldn’t help but stare and see in real life the car that has been advertised on more billboards, magazines and newspapers then the Mitsubishi 380 when that came out a few years back. Almost impossible to escape.
A mix of the Nissan 370Z, the new Audi TT and I can even see a little bit of the Daihatsu Copen in there. The Peugeot RCZ looks like some extra terrestrial Supercar, powerful, sexy, fast and super luxurious. Till you get in it.
To the Peugeot dealership I went to discover this amazing vehicle and see what all the advertising was all about… Boy was I disappointed.
Approaching this outstanding car, the first thing I find on the exterior to criticise are the exhaust pipes. Two steel exhausts on the left hand side of the car. All the engineering, styling and money that goes into creating such a spectacular looking car, they have done nothing minutely different with the exhaust. Perhaps two on either side, or even one on either side, or in the middle. But I can get over it. The rear is very beautiful, you could almost mistaken it for an Audi TT at a glance. An electronic rear spoiler can be deployed manually or automatically. Once you reach 85 km/h it will raise 19 degrees. Once you reach 155km/h (which I hope you don’t?!), it raises up to 34 degrees. It is concealed neatly within the boot lid, but a little flimsy when the boot lid is lifted, the spoiler can be moved around on the sides of the lid.
The smooth and stylish lines are simply delightful. The cabin sits low and sunken in between the 4 wheels. The mirrors are gorgeous, similar to the Citroën C4. There is heaps of glass, the use of glass is phenomenal. Every single panel of this car is simply perfect.
The front of the car had this enormous badge, a massive grille which remind me of a Whale Shark, ready to scoop up and swallow anything in it’s way. The badge which and the surrounding grille is made out of plastic, but not even a good plastic. It’s flimsy, cheap and tacky. The entire front bumper and grille is completely flimsy – like a cheap little Suzuki Swift.
But the most striking feature of this car is most definately the roof. There is a double-bubble roof, that protrudes from the top of the windscreen, to the back of the roof, then the rear window is moulded to carry the convex bubble through to the base of the window. There are two aluminum arches which stand out in the most blissfully peculiar way – a vision of almost perfection.
Pathetic. There is almost nothing in the interior that does this car justice. After having a complete eyegasm with it’s utter sex appeal on the outside, getting into the car is one of the biggest anti-climaxes I’ve ever had.
From the moment I got in, the only thing I could really say is beautiful… Are the front seats. That’s it.
The dashboard, the buttons, the stereo, the doors, centre console, the handbrake, the gears, the EVERYTHING looks like it’s come straight from a Peugeot 206. Simply boring and dull. There is nothing technologically advanced (specification wise), and nothing anywhere close to reaching the levels of luxury you’d expect when you see it from the outside.
Flimsy plastic climate control knobs. A basic stereo supplied by JBL has adequate sound, but is just a basic looking facia from one of the entry level 206′s – it just has no character. There is an analogue clock, to add a touch of ‘class’. Too bad that class was lost when they put the filthy looking numbers all over it. The clock in the Ford Fairlane’s (which are now Silver Service cabs in Sydney) from the early 2000′s even looks better!
I also don’t like the handbrake. In this day and age, an electric brake would be more suitable for this car, with a simple touch of a button to engage the park-brake. The Peugeot 3008 has it, why doesn’t the RCZ?
The biggest thing that got me was the back seat. Ok admittedly you wouldn’t really want to take people around, a car packed with 4 people, but in the occasion that you do need to, you may need to remove either their head, or their legs. One or the other. I am 184cm tall, and sitting in the back of this car was simply impossible. Yes there is leg room – but it’s the head space. My head was literally laying on my shoulder to one side just so I could fit in. The rear window comes down over the rear seat so much, it cuts off a large portion of the head room. The rear seats are cheap and tacky, just like in the Porsche Carrera’s. It’s definately a 2 seater car with a parcel shelf – which happens to have 2 seatbelts.
But I need to stop being so negative. I should discuss the great things about the interior.
Back to the front seats – stunning. They are absolutely beautiful, from any angle you look at them. They are embossed with the Peugeot logo. They are sumptuous and supportive.
Oh, there’s also a rather large boot which I was quite impressed with, at 384 litres. But how? There is no spare tyre. No, they aren’t run-flats either. There is simply no spare type – full size or space saver. You get a little can of glue to patch up a hole long enough to get you to a service station. Ridiculous!
Using the common style key to start the car was the first of my criticisms. Again, a stunning car which should have technological advancements such as keyless entry and start. Nothing more pleasurable then starting your faux-Supercar with a START/STOP button if you ask me.
But that aside, this is about the engine and the drive.
Handling is sublime. Absolutely excellent as expected. It glues itself to the road. Push it as hard as you can, and still it sticks to the road with each and very little fuss.
The Australian range has three variants. A 6-speed manual 1.6-litre, 147 kW petrol turbo; A 6-speed automatic 1.6 litre, 115kW or the 6-speed manual 2.0 litre Hdi turbo-diesel. They are all fairly good engines, but the way of choosing basically comes down to preference. What you would prefer to drive. It’s no super-car. It’s no powerhouse of muscle and torque, but it’s definately got guts and can definately be pushed without it sounding like it’s struggling.
Gear changing is easy and guided – again it comes down to it not being a pure-bred sports car, where you put your heart and soul through the gear stick and drive it the way it was made… This is smooth and guided. It’s just a normal road car at the end of the day.
Safety – The Good.
The safety bar has been set high. There are two front airbags as well as two side airbags. Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is by Bosch, ASR, EBD, ABS, EBA and Hill Assist. A heap of letters that mean one thing – crashing this car is pretty damn hard!
An interesting feature is the active bonnet system. It assists with minimising physical impact to pedestrians in case of an accident by raising the bonnet 55mm, avoiding hard contact with engine components.
Likes: Not too many of them. But the obvious one is the exterior styling. Second to none. The front leather seats, both comfort and styling. The leather clad dashboard and stitching. Handling. Drive. Smooth. Clean. Fun. Price.
Dislikes: The entire interior styling. Everything from the centre console lid/armrest to the instrument cluster and the ugly small screen at the top center of the dashboard. Rear seating and head space. The flooring carpet is atrocious – something you’d expect in a 1990 Mitsubishi Nimbus.
Would I buy it? If I could swap the interior for an Audi TT or BMW Z4, and also change the bubble roof from aluminium to glass, I would buy it in a heartbeat. It needs to have a stylish cockpit – with inclusions such as satellite navigation, touch screen functions, a superior branded stereo (like Bose did with Mazda or Bang & Olufsen did with Audi – even Marcel Wanders!).
Price: From $55,000. There is a Special Edition coming out this month with prices starting from $62,490.
Final say: What a stunning car from the outside. The inside is very disappointing. I guess the price of the car coincides with the level of luxury and the technological features. You are basically paying for superb exterior styling with the interior level of a 206, with beautiful front seats.