Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Looks and performance of a much pricier sports car

FORGIVE me if I coo a bit over a car this week, and sigh when I

FORGIVE me if I coo a bit over a car this week, and sigh when I think about it, but I have just driven one of my favourite modern sports cars. However, this time the drive was very different.

For Peugeot has given its racy and stylish RCZ some real guts. So not only do you get those beautiful lines that belong on much more expensive supercars, you also get added horses under the bonnet, as my granddad used to say.

Indeed, the Peugeot RCZ R is a beast beneath its handsome exterior â?? accelerating from 0 to 62mph in an electric 5.9 seconds, and if you keep going you will soon reach its top speed of 155mph, its 270bhp engine eating up the miles.

No wonder then that this is the most powerful production model in the history of the marque.

To put that kind of performance into perspective: according to Autocar magazine, on acceleration from 30mph to 70mph the RCZ R is “half a second faster than a Vauxhall Astra VXR” — another car that does not hang about. This is a good indication of the car’s true capabilities from a well-respected publication.



But to me one of the most extraordinary things about the new RCZ R is that it’s yours for just over £30,000. You can double or triple that for a comparable sports car with cracking performance and great looks.

Now it may be you do not wish to bat around our public roads at such a high rate of knots but therein lies a perennial debate on the merit of such feisty cars.

However, until the day we all follow each other in orderly silence in our Google-inspired driverless vehicles I believe you can still get a huge amount of enjoyment from owning a car such as the RCZ R — and drive safely within the car’s and your own capabilities.

What I liked most about the RCZ R was its ability to swoop up to speed with a kind of effortless joy that comes from cars with real, balanced power.

You do not need to use this all the time because this Peugeot will also quite happily pootle along at low speed.

Let’s face it, on our roads today that’s what most of us do most of the time.

But the R is meant for driving: given a slice of open road this fast version of the original RCZ which first wowed everyone at its launch in 2010 comes into its own.

Of course, its rakish style is not to everyone’s taste and its “double-bubble” roof gets some quizzical looks. It was inspired by Zagato, the Italian car design maestro responsible for some of the most beautiful cars (feast your eyes on a picture of the fabulous Fiat 8V Elaborata to see what I mean).

I particularly liked the colour of the test model: a gorgeous Moroccan Red with grey leather and Alcantara trim.

This metallic paint costs an extra £525 but is money well spent. For although Peugeot has upped the performance considerably with the RCZ R, I still think its looks are its most stunning feature.

But of course the R tag is what makes this car special: the new 1.6-litre engine, as well as producing top bhp, also achieves low emissions of 145g/km.

A Torsen differential, special suspension and bespoke wheels match up to the new powerbase of the RCZ R.

So this “race-bred road car” gets my vote as one of the best sports cars around in terms of value for money, looks and performance.

I wonder if Peugeot will ever complete the dream and produce an RCZ convertible?

FACT FILE:

Price (on-the-road): £32,250

Race-bred road car producing 270bhp

Day to day practicality — low emissions of 145g/km

Four RCZ styles available: R, Red Carbon, GT and Sport

0-62mph: 5.9 seconds

Maximum speed: 155mph

Engine: four-cylinder petrol

Cubic capacity: 1,598

Fuel consumption: 44.8mpg (combined cycle)



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