Earlier this year, we tested the gorgeous RCZ. Now, can the flagship appeal to the discerning driver?
Photos: Joel Tam
Beautiful was the first word that came to our minds when we first saw it. Despite sharing a similar face to its 308 stable mate, it was gorgeous from pretty much any angle we could think of. This car however, has two big visual upgrades: The carbon fibre roof and the bigger, meaner-looking wheels.
While the automatic variant delivered a good drive, the manual version of the RCZ feels more nimble, more eager and pounces a lot harder than the automatic. While the ride was still a good compromise between comfort and sportiness, the manual variant feels tauter in the corners and delivers more feedback.
Speaking of corners, this car does corner with slightly more dignity, staying more upright than what we experienced in its automatic cousin. The brakes deliver slightly more bite under heavy braking. Grip-wise, there was not much of a difference between either variants. You will have to really go over-the-top to get any tyres to un-stick, and if they do, it was not an easy job getting the lion to behave again.
The gearshifts may sound hollow, but it feels crisp when it comes to engagement. The gears feel nicely balanced out too, though we find that it was geared towards making the RCZ a speedy cruiser than outright performance. Balancing our feet between the clutch pedal and the feathery-light throttle did take some time to get used too (along with some embarrassing stalls). However, these are the little bits that make this manual RCZ more of a driver’s car.
While we were happy enough to drive the RCZ hard, there are some things that made us think again. If you have large feet, you will find that there is little space left to the left of the clutch pedal and the foot well. Needless to say, there was no dedicated resting spot for the left foot. The saving grace? Cruise control.
Visual-wise, the RCZ is still arguably the better looking coupe. It still turn heads like Italian super-cars, and this more powerful version delivers a much sportier drive. But, we felt that the RCZ has a lack of an unique soul. There is a familiar Peugeot dashboard and the driving sensation reminds us of another French manufacturer's hot hatch which we had. Still, it's our own fault for having driven all of them.
If you have got your eyes set on the RCZ, do go straight for this manual variant. It has a more entertaining drive and with that extra go-power, it certainly delivers the performance to match its looks! Most importantly, this represents a refreshing change from Peugeot's older models.