Peugeot RCZ and RCZ-R


The Brave Lion

French car manufacturer Peugeot are moving with the times, placing further emphasis on design...

With the recent unveiling of their RCZ-R, and an in-house ‘design lab’ – French auto stalwarts Peugeot are steadily shedding their staid image.

One of the surprise presentations at this year’s Milan Design Week was a volcanic stone and carbon fibre sofa from a designer more often associated with middle management and large families. It’s a generation since the Peugeot 205 GTi ruled the hot-hatch roost, but the launch of their RCZ in 2010 saw the French company making serious strides to shed an image that they’d brought upon themselves over the last few decades – the recent unveiling of its meaner counterpart, the RCZ-R, dealing a further blow to that reputation.

Good Looking, Nippy, Sporty, Agile. Not a terrible new Spice Girls take-off, but my wants from a car. Yes, I’m Peugeot’s target market for the RCZ – and having spent a week with the 2013 update of their original game-changer recently, I’m pleased to confirm that the Paris-based brand are satisfying those that matter.

An updated face – improved nose, smaller grille – further emphasises the RCZ ‘double-bubble’ roof and fluid lines, and the focus on design continues inside. More spacious than I’d imagined (the large, bulbous back window brings in plenty of light) and with a racing-inspired flat-bottomed steering wheel, the driver’s position feels satisfyingly sporty. The passengers? Billed as a 2+2 Sports Coupé, the two occasions I had a second rider were predictably uncomfortable. But sports cars are for the driver, surely? The RCZ GT THP 200 opens up well – 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds – the gears are easy to shift through, the 19″ alloy wheels, active rear spoiler and double exhausts look damn good and it’s efficient on fuel. Boxes: ticked.

The RCZ-R takes an already grunty 1.6-litre engine and turns it into the world’s most powerful – some 270bhp. Wow. The design seems to have been at the steroids too, the uncompromising details of the original beefed up, accentuating each and every line.

Over at Peugeot Design Lab, the autonomous design-house have announced a series of art-toys in collaboration with fellow French brand ARTOYZ, available in limited numbers from their Peugeot Avenue Paris showroom. Intriguing steps for the famous lion. As car manufacturers continue to evolve, with increasing emphasis placed on lifestyle and design, we’re in interesting times – the dam holding back innovation, technology and customer interaction has broken and brands need to act as a conduit or risk being swept along with the tide. Peugeot, it seems, are acutely aware.


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