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Peugeot RCZ turns even more heads


THE FIRST time I drove the RCZ, I was quite smitten with it. It wasn’t the full-fat 147kW version, but even so I could tell it was really something special. My initial thoughts were confirmed when I eventually got behind the wheel of the high-output 1.6-litre turbocharged a few weeks later.

Peugeot’s cockroach-like coupé recently received a facelift, which was a perfect excuse to rekindle my love affair with it. It’s been three years, but I was sure our passion would reignite as soon as I twisted the key.

It did, but not in the big way I was expecting. Three years is a long time and the motoring game has changed since then. Back in 2010/2011, the Peugeot only had one real competitor, the Audi TT. Now, it has to compete with the Toybaru duo, a host of hot hatches and even a competitor from within its own family.

I’m glad Peugeot didn’t mess around with the exterior too much, which has always been one of the main reasons I’ve loved this car. I applaud the French manufacturer for being brave enough to put a car that looks like this into production, because it looks so different from everything else out there. Love it or hate it, it has some serious presence that can’t be ignored.

We film a few cars every now and then for a TV show and our cameraman put it best when he said that there was no angle from which the RCZ looked boring. Some call it beautiful and some call it ugly, but I’ve never come across anyone who’s called it dull.
It’s also one of those cars that are deceptively fast thanks to aggressive in-gear acceleration. We took it to Tarlton to test its straight-line speed in a safe environment and it blew me away. It came uncomfortably close to a few R1 million cars I’ve driven there before.

The rest is pretty much the same as before. It handles beautifully for a front-wheel-drive coupé and it’s comfortable enough to live with on a day-to-day basis. Drive it carefully and it will even go a reasonable distance between fill-ups. 
I also liked the fact that it’s as practical as you can reasonably expect from a coupé. It has a relatively big boot and two rear seats for very, very small passengers. As a practical proposition, it beats the pants off the Toybaru duo.

You also get a decent amount of kit at the price and a few subtle upgrades to make the interior feel slightly more upmarket. The highlight of the facelifted interior is the new infotainment system with its full-colour display. This system integrates the latest must-haves, including Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, hands-free connectivity for mobile phones and satellite navigation. Other standard niceties include dual-zone climate control, automatic headlamps and windscreen wipers, front and rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, electric windows and satellite controls for the audio system and cruise control.

It’s still a very good car and one I’d happily recommend to anyone who wants a stand-out coupé, but I simply can’t ignore the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ. 
For less money than an RCZ, you could have a proper rear-wheel-drive coupé that will turn every commute into an epic driving journey.

Or, if you want to save even more money while having just as much fun, buy a Peugeot 208 GTi. It’s even faster that the RCZ (it has the same engine), more practical and costs around R181 000 less.

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