Peugeot’s hot new RCZ R impressed us immensely at launch, around the twisty hills surrounding Nice. Two key areas came to fore at the car’s launch, the superb power delivery and competent handling characteristics. Although we left Nice smiling, we did wonder if Peugeot’s most powerful road car to date would impress to the same high degree at home on Irish tarmac. We’ve recently driven the RCZ R on Irish soil and we’re delighted to say that it impresses every bit as much, if not more then when we first drove the car abroad.
One letter on the rear of this Peugeot RCZ carries a lot of weight, ‘R’ represents far more than a sports-style body kit and set of two-tone alloy wheels. It’s symbolic to Peugeot Sport who has a rich motorsport heritage and is key to the development of this hardcore RCZ. The designers have tastefully beefed-up what was already a pretty car, with the addition of a fixed rear spoiler that aids downforce, a rear diffuser and 19” alloy wheels. It sits lower to the ground with a wider track in comparison to its regular RCZ sibling, the R’s front suspension is 14 per cent stiffer too, and the rear suspension’s stiffness has also been increased by 44 per cent. The highlight of the interior is the two Alcantara-clad sports seats, they are functional as well as pleasing to the eye, offering shoulder support when cornering. The rear seats are pretty-much redundant for anyone bar small children. The use of leather with raised stitching across the dash and door cards heightens a luxurious feel to the car’s cabin. Needless to say the standard level of equipment is generous, some of the highlights include satellite navigation with retractable screen, dual zone air conditioning, xenon headlights, front and rear parking aids, dual sports exhaust, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, emergency brake force distribution and dynamic stability control.
At the heart of the RCZ R is a very technically impressive 1.6-litre THP turbocharged petrol engine. It produces a stern 270hp and 330Nm of torque which it delivers to the car’s front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. In order to harness this much power with a front-wheel-drive setup, Peugeot has equipped the RCZ R with a Torsen limited slip differential. In order to appreciate the car’s speed and handling we took to the track. Through the corners the car remains flat and stable, acceleration out of the corners is excellent, this car can reach 100km/h from a standstill in just 5.9 seconds. The short-shift six-speed manual transmission is a delight to use providing an involving driving experience. When it comes to shedding speed at the end of the straights, the colossal 380 millimetre front brake discs are fit for purpose. The driving position is central and we particularly like the pedals which are close together making for effortless heel-and-toe manoeuvres on the down shifts. The result on track was an impressive laptime of 1:05.74 which places the RCZ R as the second fastest car we’ve put up against the clock around MondelloPark’s National Circuit.
The Peugeot RCZ R is a serious driver’s car that will reward on road and track. It’s also comfortable around town and on the motorway thanks to its luxurious cabin and ease of use. We can look forward to further ‘R’ models from the French car manufacturer in the near future, if they are anything like the RCZ R we’ve got exciting times ahead.
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