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Sexy French number makes road trip fun
Published 02/06/14



Peugeot RCZ GT HDi 163

• Price (on-the-road): £26,350

• 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine

• Re-styled in 2013

• Available in Sport trim from £23,950 or GT specification from £26,350


• CO2 emissions 135g/km

• Fuel economy: combined cycle 54.3mpg

• 0 to 62mph in 8.7 seconds

• Top speed of 137mph.

• Test car was the GT model, the RCZ also comes in Sport, Red Carbon and R versions.

TRAVEL has become so homogenised in our modern world that taking a long-haul flight to somewhere “exotic” for your annual fortnight’s leave has become the norm, and the actual sense of travelling is now lost on most people.

An airliner delivers you from one place to another in a kind of air-con fug after a devilish waltz around most airports. I love train travel but connections can be a terror.

Which brings us to the dear old car. I know it has its faults — there are after all so many on the road — but to travel somewhere at some distance by car still leaves you (or perhaps just me) with a gritty feeling that I have accomplished something.

This occurred to me this week when I took the sexy and desirable (I am very biased when it comes to this beauty) Peugeot RCZ GT for a spin through Brittany in northern France.

This is a route well travelled by me: my family has been coming to this part of Brittany for more than 20 years. But it was the going — the actual getting there — that intrigued me this time.

In the RCZ — a car that only recently won DieselCar magazine’s sports car of the year award for the fifth year in succession — my wife and I enjoyed a pleasurable “two’s-company” trip.

This RCZ has been much praised and every writer it seems, including myself, has used the word “sexy” to describe it. Judge for yourselves by the photographs reproduced here. It has classic sports car lines mixed with a racy elegance. The “double-bubble” rear window and roof got the looks and comments but so, too, on this model did its Opal White colour, black leather trim and smouldering Storm Grey Alloy grade wheels.

The pristine look of the RCZ (and the fact it was a brand new “14” registration plate) may have been what attracted customs officers on both sides of the Channel.

In nearly three decades of motoring across France — and using cross Channel ferries — I have not once been stopped by customs. But here the RCZ was for some reason spotted and politely sidelined while a woman customs officer searched inside with a torch and passed what looked like an exposives detector underneath its low-slung chassis. All was good to go but this low-key customs scrutiny did not end there, more of which later.

We arrived in Portsmouth using the efficient Peugeot Connect Navigation RT6 (optional extra at £735) at around 7pm for a Sunday overnight crossing with Brittany Ferries. Gone are the days of lousy food and grubby accommodation on ferries. This French-owned company has stepped up to the plate and given motorists travelling to the Continent a good, clean civilised service with polite, courteous staff.

As night fell and the Bretagne slipped out of Portsmouth harbour, I had a real sense of Robert Louis Stevenson’s oft-quoted, “to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive”. Hopefully then, we retired to a delightful piano bar. I kid you not, this cocktail bar, next to an excellent full-service restaurant, employs a piano player to lull you into a state of relaxation with Cole Porter tunes and the like, helped along by a Courvoisier and coffee.

Next morning, after a bit of a rock-and-roll crossing, we arrived in St Malo at breakfast time. Almost in one bound we were free to swing down those wonderful long, distant roads through France in the pacy RCZ that lead to thousands of miles of driving possibilities for the ambitious motorist.

At customs a rather smart gendarme — who looked a bit like Jean Dujardin, who played the canny Swiss banker in The Wolf of Wall Street — again sidelined the RCZ. His scrutiny of our passports was superior and Gallic yet thorough. “Hooray,” I thought, “we have arrived in France and three cheers for that inimitable sense of French ‘cool’ — where would us travellers be without it?”

Returning to Stevenson, a writer who filled the pages of his novels with the mystery of travel, his message was that “the journey is the reward”: I could not have put it better myself.

• For information of the latest ferry offers from Brittany Ferries go to www.brittany-ferries.co.uk

Published 02/06/14

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