Peugeot 308 RCZ (2007): first official pictures

Published: 31 July 2007

Peugeot’s TT: the 308 RC Z

If you’re designing a mid-sized coupe from scratch, it’s hard to ignore the head-swivelling, original Audi TT. Peugeot clearly thinks so – its Frankfurt show star, the new 308 RC Z unveiled today, looks like a Chinese facsimile of the Mk1 TT, especially viewed in profile. Maybe that’s why Peugeot introduced a clumsy kink in the waistline (a la Hyundai Matrix), to disrupt the Germanic body language…

Ah, that’s a bit less like a TT

Yes, it’s just as you’d imagine a mid-sized Peugeot coupe to look: huge, sweptback headlights, inane grinning grille and bulging bonnet lines that characterise modern Pugs. The front end borrows the look of its sister car, the 308 hatchback and the RC Z previews a production coupe that we can expect on sale in 2009. Interestingly, Peugeot intends to fill every nook and cranny of the C-sector with 308 derivatives. We’ve already seen the five-door hatch, but we’ll also have an SW estate, a three-door hatch and a coupe-cabriolet. That’s right – Peugeot is following BMW’s 3-series lead and having two separate tin-top coupes, one with a folding hard top.

Blimey. So this RC Z isn’t a CC? Just look at that rear deck!

Yes, it does look like there should be a folding metal hood robotically sashaying into that rear deck. But a Peugeot spokesman swore blind that this fixed-head coupe looked substantially different from the 308 CC that we’ll see in 18 months’ time. This is a 2+2 coupe with ‘usable’ occasional rear seats and a large boot; the two rear perches fold down and the designers claim the resultant space is large enough to swallow a mountain bike. The RC Z is the same length as the standard hatchback, but 25mm wider and a smidge lower at 1320mm high. The roofline is noteworthy for its double-bubble look, designed to smoothe airflow over the rear of the car and obviate the need for a rear spoiler. Tone down the huge 19-inch alloys, 40-profile rubber and postbox-sized exhausts, and you’re left with how the production car should look.

What about that kinked windowline? Is this a new Peugeot styling feature?

Possibly. Peugeot says the concept car is exploring new ideas, but the two-step styling line is a bit heavy-handed to our eyes. Let’s hope it doesn’t spread to the rest of the range, as Peugeot struggles to find its next look. The engineering package is for real, though. Peugeot is the latest manufacturer to jump on the lightweight bandwagon (not hard, after years of successive bloaters) and the 308 RC Z weighs 1200kg, not bad for a coupe of this size. However, you have to take with a pinch of salt the claims that the concept has extensive use of aluminium and carbonfibre. No way will high-tech composites survive into a £18,000 production coupe.

Go on, show me inside…

Here’s one of the surest signs that the 308 coupe is a dead cert for production. There is very little in here that’s concept-car pie-in-the-sky. The dashboard architecture is largely taken from the 308 hatch, although the fascia is trimmed in plusher leather. Large, chunky bucket seats do their best to gobble any available legroom for those in the rear while, in true Peugeot style, the A-pillars are so far forward that you get the impression it could feel like an MPV from the driver’s chair.

This design sketch looks just like a TT as well!

It does rather, doesn’t it. Peugeot must be aware of the similarity – and one official even described it to CAR Online as ‘our TT’. But the 308 RC Z will be usefully cheaper than Audi’s coupe and we anticipate a starting price of around £18,000 in today’s money. The concept car uses the familiar 1.6 turbo engine from the 308 and 207, this time boosted to 218bhp. That’s a pretty impressive figure for a 1.6, and there is 221lb ft of thrust to call upon for overtaking manoeuvres. Figures quoted are 146mph flat-out and 0-62mph in 7.0sec, which sound credible in light of the claimed kerbweight. More importantly, Peugeot quotes CO2/mpg figures of 160g/km and 42mpg. Are Peugeot crafting a successful new design? Let us know by clicking ‘Add comment’ on the button below

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet