Peugeot RCZ R review
The 270hp RCZ R is the first in a range of three new Peugeot R cars. We've driven the hot new coupé.
Shane O' Donoghue
Shane O' Donoghue

Published on November 27, 2013

Overall rating: 4.5/5

We've been fans of the shapely Peugeot RCZ coupé from the start, a model that majors on style, and backs it up with decent driving dynamics. Accompanying a facelift this year is a new range-topper, the 270hp RCZ R. How auspicious a start is it for Peugeot's new high-performance brand?

In the metal 5/5

The Peugeot RCZ R has stance. It's as simple as that. The increased track and lower ride height combine with gorgeous bespoke 19-inch alloys to make the RCZ R stand out from its already quite glamorous siblings. A fixed rear spoiler reduces the femininity of the original design a touch and it's backed up by an under-bumper diffuser housing two polished exhaust outlets. Up front there are Xenon headlights with a darkened surround and red for the Peugeot lettering in the grille, which also houses the new 'R' badge.

Inside, the already quite tasteful cabin has been embellished with suitably sporting touches. Raised red stitching is liberally applied throughout, but the most worthwhile upgrade is the new pair of seats up front. They have decent shoulder support, look great and mix leather and Alcantara. There are still two seats in the back, though they're only seats in name really.

Driving it 4/5

Noise; it defines the RCZ R from the outset. Even ambling along in traffic this Peugeot is loud, possibly a little too loud for it to be an everyday car for commuting. However, out on the open road it's glorious and it certainly distances the R from any other version of the RCZ. Once you're used to the intake and exhaust roars you realise just how quickly the rev counter needle whips around the dial towards the red line. The engine is, after all, one of the stars of the show here.

We did wonder if Peugeot Sport could extract 270hp from the 1.6-litre four-cylinder lump and still make it tractable at normal speeds. It has done; the engine feels like a larger capacity unit, albeit turbocharged. Power delivery is smooth with distinct acceleration of the revs towards the redline, accompanied by that addictive roar. It sounds good inside and outside of the car. It's refreshing to find a good manual gearbox in this car when so many manufacturers are favouring twin-clutch automatics, and the six-speed transmission is a real joy to use, offering up satisfying weighting while moving as quickly across the gate as you can move your hand.

Thankfully, the engine and gearbox don't dominate proceedings, as Peugeot Sport has done just as much work on the chassis. First up, the track is widened front and rear, plus the ride height is reduced, lowering the centre of gravity. Meanwhile the dampers, suspension geometry and anti-roll bars are all altered. Peugeot quotes an increase in front-end stiffness of 14 per cent and a considerable 44 per cent at the rear, where there's now a fixed spoiler for more downforce as well. The standard 19-inch alloy wheels make room for much bigger brakes, which are mounted on aluminium hubs - for weight reduction and better cooling. We punished the brakes pretty hard, but they never showed any sign of fading. Saying that, they did get quite noisy after being used hard for a while and then cooling again. It's nothing to worry about we were told.

Topping it all off is a Torsen mechanical limited slip differential, which is key to how the RCZ R manages to get all its power down. Our route near Nice took in multiple uphill hairpins and yet it required a serious amount of provocation to make the ESP stability and traction control systems intervene. Traction, in the dry at least, is immense and yet there's no obvious assistance from the limited slip differential, though clearly it's doing its job well. To allow it to, the ESP threshold has been altered. Somewhat surprisingly, there never feels to be too much power for the chassis to handle so the steering wheel doesn't squirm in your hands. Just point and go, with seemingly as much throttle as you feel is necessary.

It'll be interesting to see how the noticeably stiff suspension deals with our own particular brand of back roads. In France it bounced over speed bumps and bad surfaces, though body control at all times was good. Direction changes are instant and made all the more satisfying by the retention of the regular RCZ's hydraulic power steering. The wheel is a little big, but it helps with smooth, flowing input on a tight and twisty road. Such are the grip levels in the dry that we didn't once feel the rear end come into play, but then again, it didn't need to.

What you get for your money 4.5/5

Peugeot Ireland has confirmed that the RCZ R will cost €52,990. That sounds like a lot, but looking around for rivals there are precious few with the same level of performance in the same price region. The Audi TT S should be considered, though it's nigh on €70,000, which is a big step up, even if it has four-wheel drive. The Porsche Cayman has the same power output as the RCZ R, but less torque and again a near-€70,000 price tag. Going the other way, the Toyota GT86 has a lot less power than the Peugeot but is about €10,000 cheaper.

The 200hp petrol RCZ isn't currently offered in Ireland, but the R model should only be about €8,000 more than the 2.0 HDi diesel version. We expect dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, Xenon lights, auto wipers and lights, leather upholstery and parking sensors as standard at a minimum, plus satnav.

Worth Noting

Peugeot is keen to align the RCZ R with its motorsport division, Peugeot Sport, and in fairness, much of the development work was carried out by it, but it's not quite a road-going version of the RCZ Cup race car. The team looked at using the Cup's 1.6-litre engine, but apparently its pistons need replacing every 3,000 kilometres. Saying that, the customer race car 'makes do' with 250hp and 290Nm of torque, though at 1,070kg the racer is nearly 300kg lighter than the RCZ R, which is, in fairness, 60kg or so lighter than the road-going 200hp model.


As an ambassador for Peugeot's new R performance brand, the RCZ does a good job. It looks great, is desirable and fast and makes a good fist of the whole driving dynamics thing. It's not the most delicate of driving tools, but it's still enjoyable and worthy of the R badge. Sales will, of course, be low for any non-premium coupé in this price bracket, though saying that the RCZ R undercuts similarly powerful German coupés. Overall, it's a halo car to be proud of and one that hints at great things to come from Peugeot.


Tech Specs

Model testedPeugeot RCZ R
Engineturbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine
Transmissionsix-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body styletwo-door coupé
RivalsAudi TT S, Porsche Cayman, Volkswagen Scirocco R
CO2 emissions145g/km (Band C, €390 per annum)
Combined fuel economy44.8mpg (6.3 litres/100km)
Top speed250km/h
0-100km/h5.9 seconds
Power270hp at 6,000rpm
Torque330Nm at 1,900- to 5,500rpm