Peugeot has pulled the wraps off its new RCZ coupé ahead of its official debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2009. Well, when we say wraps, we mean these shadowy silhouettes of the bubble-roofed coupe, along with a few moody shots of it sharing the frame with some hip model incapable of sorting out his tie and collar.
I guess these arty pictures are to set the scene for the new Peugeot RCZ?
So Peugeot hopes. The RCZ is a surprise departure – for a start it’s the first Peugeot model to break with the company’s zero and double zero naming system. So Peugeot’s dealers should be prepared for plenty of arsey jokes and jibes.
It’s also a dead ringer for the RC-Z concept that Peugeot unveiled – again at the Frankfurt show – two years ago. Which is no bad thing. It may have more than a whiff of Audi TT about it, but despite the usual heavy-handed Pug motifs (slack-jawed grille, vast headlamps and overwrought bonnet) the RCZ is easily the best-looking Peugeot in years.
It retains many of the concept’s unusual features including that odd mid-waist kink, the double-bubble rear screen and roof, swooping silvered pillars and bulging wheelarches.
And underneath the metal of the RCZ?
There’s a lot of 308 architecture, as you’d expect, so it’s the familiar front strut and torsion beam rear suspension, tweaked and fettled for greater agility and driver engagement. The front and rear tracks are wider for enhanced stability, and the electric-assist steering has been revised for more feedback and quicker response.
When we drove the RC-Z concept we were stuck by how production-ready it was – it even had windscreen wipers – and despite its lack of outright development, it felt sharper and more engaging than the current 308. Not that tricky a feat to achieve, agreed, but we’re hoping Peugeot’s engineers will give the RCZ’s dynamics the polish and poise its unique styling promises.
>> Click next to read more about the new Peugeot RCZ
Let’s talk engines
Expect the range-topper to be powered by the familiar 1.6 turbo engine Peugeot shares with Mini, driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual box. Given the concept’s road-readiness, we’ve no reason to believe its 218bhp and 221lb ft outputs won’t make it through to production. Enough grunt for a seven-second dash to 60mph and a 145mph top speed.
A less powerful version will also be introduced, as will a torquey turbo diesel – possibly the 170bhp 2.2 HDi. The RC-Z concept made clever use of carbonfibre and lightweight alloys to keep its kerbweight down to 1200kg. It’s unlikely that these will make it past Peugeot’s bean counters so expect the road-going RCZ to be rather heavier.
So, a cut-price TT wannabe with Cooper S power – where do I start queuing?
It may have a lion on its nose, but the RCZ will be no bargain-basement special. In keeping with its unique profile in the Pug line-up, the flagship RCZ will start at around £19,500 when it goes on sale early in 2010. Sure, that’s usefully cheaper than an Audi TT, but it’s dangerously close to the hot new Scirocco, which is likely to run dynamic rings around the Peugeot. But for those wanting a (very) different-looking 2+2 on their driveway, the RCZ might tick the box.