In May 2014, I did a bad thing…
Well, to be honest, it was probably one of the best decisions I’d ever made, but there are times when I think about how I could’ve spent my money differently. Invested in a property, travelled the world, started up a business etc. Instead, I bought the Peugeot RCZ R.
Now I’ve heard it all. From the infamous cliche use of “But it’s French” to the critique of “That’s a poor man’s Audi” and I must admit that these jibes didn’t get to me in the way they should have, because this car is probably one of the best on the market for what it does.
You may have heard the basics that separate it from the rest, such as the 270 horses that it puts out of its pretty modest 1.6l engine and the 5.9 second to 62mph acceleration, which makes it the fastest car with that engine size in history. And that’s admittedly pretty cool.
Now, I know a car can be made stupidly light, remapped and go full throttle Forza on motor modification, but this is different. This isn’t your lowered Polo skulking across the town with more camber than a chunky girl wearing Uggs and a scaffolding-like exhaust loud enough to startle children from here to China. No, instead, this is a far more refined character. It portrays a uniquely confident style, but with a humble grounding to keep it from being categorised like another tos**r sports car.
Allow me to take you through my personal journey with this vehicle, explaining its good and bad points, and keep your mind open before you chuck a German comparison car at it because it’s just not the same.
Styling and Comfort: I feel that assessing this car from its aesthetics to how it functions in a car and owner relationship way is probably the best way of giving it that personalised review. So, much like a gorgeous man, when I first saw the R, my eyes popped out of my head and my jaw dropped in unison; it is simply stunning to ogle. Starting with its low ride which makes it glide across the road and look so sexy when you catch its reflection in a window, to its supremely timeless styling that makes you turn around every time you walk away…okay, so I am guilty of perving over my car; guilty as charged! But who could resist those curves? I think it’s easy to appreciate the superficial side of this car, but what about its interior? Well, the bucket seats are mighty comfy, and the blend of Alcantara leathers means that it maintains a solid temperature. Many times have I stepped in my R in sub-zero temperatures ready for a long journey ahead and all I have to do is put the heating on full and I’m ready to go. Any window fog is cleared as speedily as it accelerates to 60 and there’s no driving like an Eskimo watching your icy cold breath vacate your shivering mouth. Honestly, I can’t complain about how fantastic its appearance is and how it doesn’t sacrifice any integral functions in the process. It looks good and it still manages to compliment a secure and easy drive. The one thing I will say is that when it comes to the interior, bar the seats, it is not particularly any more unique than any other Peugeot on the road…The red stitching, “R” badge in the seats and the metal gear stick are the only things that make it decipherable as the special vehicle in the Peugeot range. The internal layout besides that is much like a 207. Also, the key looks no different from other cars in the brand’s range either, which slightly removes that special feeling of owning a car like this. It’s not a big deal, but it is something that as an owner you do notice could’ve been done better. But, if that’s my biggest complaint then I’m pretty fortunate! I love it all the same.
Performance and Drive: To anyone who’s had the opportunity to drive one of these beautiful cars, I think we can agree as to how satisfying it is! As it is turbocharged the pedals are light and smooth. Whenever I have driven a high-velocity car with a big engine I have noticed that the clutch can become very heavy and stiff, which removes the fun of driving a car like this. The R maintains comfort and response, which serves to also maintain my driver joy. Because of this it actually feels faster than cars of a similar acceleration, purely because it’s so easy to drive. Similarly, its handling is incredible. It takes the straights and the corners with high impact but fearless rapidity. It gives you the confidence that it can handle anything, thanks to its shape that encourages aerodynamic down-force and its power that can tackle all types of terrain. This car not only looks good and drives well, but it does this in a variety of situations. However, due to its toughened suspension and low ride, I wouldn’t say it’s particularly great on bumpy or muddy grounds, but then again…why on earth did I decide to take it camping anyway? But, despite that felt like you were riding a rodeo washing machine, it took on the challenge and returned in one piece! Any passengers in the back will have a concussion by this point, mind you. If you are planning on getting a car like this, I’d probably suggest it’s not one for more than 1 adult passenger to enjoy in the front…All in all, though, I think it’s pretty awesome, and as long as you can control any potential turbo lag then it’s a prompt and smooth drive.
Practicality and Flexibility: As I previously mentioned, this car is not practical for passengers in the back seat (that is unless you want certain friends to become comatose on a journey?). But, for you as the driver and one front passenger, it’s a really comfortable ride. I have done journeys up and down the country, hundreds of miles me and my R have travelled in one stint, and the most I have to worry about the other end is stretching my legs. The bucket seats hold you in just the right amount to feel secure, but free enough to be able to rearrange your limbs when necessary. Thankfully for its cruise control and speed limiter technology, it also removes any further hassle when facing various speeds and distractions during an intense drive. I’ve actually managed to fill the car with everything but the kitchen sink thanks to its ample internal space too. The back seats may be of little use to living beings, but it’s great for piling belongings. That and have you seen the size of the boot? The curvy shape doesn’t just serve for driver gawking, but it is so spacious too! It has good depth, length and width, which means you can stuff it with multifarious items that go beyond your weekly grocery shop. Honestly, I have moved across the country with this car. It may not be a van, but if coupes could ever have a sub-requirement for van needs, this is the car that fits that bill! The R is more than just a pretty face, it gets the job done too.
Price and Maintenance: So, it ticks a lot of boxes, but is it worth it? Well, when I bought this car they RRP’d at £32k, which is pretty standard for a sports car in this ranking. I bought mine for £29,000, which is still mighty steep, but when you think of its competitors such as the Audi TT, VW Scirocco R and Nissan 370z, it’s cheaper. That and because it has a smaller engine it also lightens the load on other things, such as insurance. Once upon a time I investigated being insured on a 370z. This Nissan is a 3.7-litre beast, but with a rather heavy clutch and spaceship technology. Its acceleration? 5.9 seconds. So, it performed identically to the R, but in my personal opinion, with slightly less human comforts. That and it was a whopping £5,000 to insure for me! Mind you, I had only been driving a couple of years by this point, but the price was still flabbergasting. What was the R though? Well, I can tell you it was a lot cheaper! My first year owning one and it only cost in the region of £900 to insure fully comp. Just a tad different to the 370z, isn’t it? So, for a car that performed the same but looked better, felt better and connected better with me, it really was a no brainer. Besides the insurance, its road tax was also cheaper. Most others in the same ranks as this vehicle emit more CO2 than you could shake a stick at, but the RCZ R was far more economical and pocket-friendly with a moderate price of £145 per year. For a car like this, it just couldn’t be sniffed at! The one thing it is pretty pricey with is parts. But, for a car with 19” alloys, bubble-glass-roof and unique styling, it was never going to be like owning a Corsa. I once experienced a malicious pothole that pulverised my tyre, and sadly it needed to be replaced. The cost? £189 for one tyre! But what else is to be expected for a tyre of that size? That and the way I drove it meant that after 2 years the tread was…none existent; I may as well have been driving on slicks. So, that meant the front 2 also needed replacing *gulp*. The services in itself were priced by Peugeot, and in all honesty, they were a massive rip off. The car never had any major issues, bar the squeaky brakes (which were sorted under warranty) and the tyres needing replacing, so I couldn’t understand how the services themselves could cost so much. In order to not invalidate the warranty, the R had to have unnecessary checks and changes, such as replacing the perfectly good spark plugs on year 1, and all this added up to £300+! It was bonkers. I worked in car sales for a while and on my 3rd year of ownership I decided to get it done in-house and it cost next to nothing. £107. Nothing needed doing and everything was as good as it was last year…So even though I had driven another 10,000 miles since then, my brakes and tread were identical (which made me think the service team may have been messing me about a tad). If you own a car like this then I’d probably advise you to find somewhere else to get it serviced, and if the car has any warranty left then just make sure that wherever you go will fulfil the Peugeot criteria. My verdict in this situation: The car itself? Brilliant. The service team? Not so brilliant.
Summarising 3 years of ownership is pretty tough, as there’s so much more to say. But, what I can tell you is that my overall happiness with this vehicle has not changed. It always surprises me (in a good way!) and it still makes me smile (even when I have to fork out for it) because, to me, it’s beyond worth it. The RCZ R not only dons enviable looks, but it’s practical, fun, reliable and unique. You won’t find a car like this very often, as they only made a limited amount. So, if you want something special, something that makes you happy in every way, something that you don’t see every day, then this is the car for you.
Do I love this car?