Peugeot RCZ review
Peugeot's stunning RCZ is much more than an Audi TT clone - it's quite brilliant in its own right.
Paddy Comyn

Published on October 27, 2010

Peugeot celebrates 200 years of existence this year and the range has never been better. With the recent addition of cars like the 3008 (last year's winner of the Irish Car of the Year title), the 5008, which is regarded as the best MPV in the segment by many and now this, the achingly beautiful RCZ, the French firm are well and truly on a roll. We know it looks good, as it's already a winner of a Red Dot design award, but does it also have the ability to make it a real contender against the likes of the Volkswagen Scirocco and Audi TT?

Inside & Out: 8/10

The best-looking car that Peugeot has ever-produced? Along with the beautiful 406 and 407 Coupés this is definitely in with a shout. Sure, it does look a little like the Audi TT, but to dismiss it as just a clone is to over simplify the detail of this car and if you put the two cars side by side you could argue that the Peugeot is better-looking.

From the front, it is very much standard Peugeot: you could almost be looking at a 308, but from the B-pillar back it is stunning. Low-slung, muscular and with that innovative double-bubble roof, the RCZ looks better in the metal than in photographs. Peugeot has got the proportions of the car spot-on.

Inside, the Germanic quality that is only a very recent trait of Peugeot interiors continues, with high-quality plastics, chrome and leather used to good effect. It is standard enough inside, with only a few details such as a flat-bottomed steering wheel marking it out as different from a 3008 or nicely appointed 308, but the low seating position and slightly challenging visibility certainly remind you that you are in a sports car.

Engine & Transmission: 7/10

There are two engines on offer in Ireland and they are the same units that we tried out at the European launch back in April. The first is the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which is good for 200hp. Although this is likely to sell in small numbers in Ireland, we really like this engine. It suits the car and makes it feel like a hot hatch.

However our test car is the diesel and that is going to be the big-seller here according to Peugeot. The diesel model is priced significantly lower than the petrol version and that will most likely cement most people's decision to choose it over the petrol. With the tried and tested 2.0-litre HDi engine under the bonnet, it is good for 163hp, making it no slouch. It feels really powerful and the 340Nm of torque on offer makes it an immense motorway cruiser as well as powerful enough on a back road. Sure enough, it doesn't offer the same sort of aural treat as the turbocharged petrol, but Peugeot has done a good job of making this engine refined and quiet.

The diesel model features a six-speed manual transmission and we had thought that this gearbox might be a little on the lazy side, but it is anything but, feeling slick - and the gearing is really very good. Some would like a double-clutch gearbox like the Scirocco's, but there are no stirrings of this likely to happen just yet.

Ride & Handling: 8/10

We know from the European launch that this is a really well-sorted car so there were few surprises when it came to an Irish test drive. Despite the fact that this car sits on large alloy wheels and has sports suspension it never feels bone-shakingly hard and around town or on the motorway it is really composed.

When you do push the diesel version harder it obviously can't be revved as high as the petrol model, but with so much torque on offer there really isn't the need to. This is one of the best diesel engines fitted to any car and it can be compared to what BMW has fitted to the 520d in terms of grunt and refinement.

We are standing by our original thoughts that the petrol version is the better car if you want your RCZ to be a sports car, but if you want something that offers a good compromise between ability and cost then it is really hard to look past the diesel.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: 7/10

It is fair to say that we probably expected the RCZ to be a little cheaper than it ended up costing, because while there has been a significant improvement to the Peugeot range, we are still not sure that it is at a level where it can charge premium German prices for its car.

Having said that, you are getting a lot of car for your money in the RCZ, not only in terms of power but it is also generously-equipped. All versions get Bluetooth and USB connectivity, leather upholstery, electric sports front seats, auto headlamps and wipers, electrochrome rear view mirror, electric folding mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, electric front windows, an alarm, cruise control with speed limiter, 18-inch alloy wheels, active rear spoiler, leather gear knob, stitched nubuck dashboard covering, remote stalk control radio, CD and mp3 player and aluminium door sills.

In terms of running costs, the diesel model is obviously going to be king as it returns a really impressive fuel consumption figure of 5.3 litres/100km and consequently has emissions of just 139g/km putting it into Band B with annual road tax of just €156.


This is a brilliant car and Peugeot's finest work for some time and proof if it were needed that this is a brand on the up. In every regard this is a proper rival for the best of the German sports coupés. Price wise, it is a shame that the petrol variant is that bit more expensive than the diesel, but the diesel is still superb and doesn't ask too many compromises.

Peugeot RCZ 2.0 HDi 163hp Sport

  • Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel

  • Maximum power: 163hp at 4,000rpm

  • Maximum torque: 340Nm at 2,000rpm

  • Acceleration (0-100km/h): 8.2 seconds

  • Max speed: 227km/h

  • Fuel economy (combined cycle): 5.3 litres/100km

  • CO2 emissions: 139g/km

  • Motor tax band: B

  • Annual road tax: €156

  • Retail price: Official price of test car without options is €36,495