Used car stars 2016: Peugeot RCZ-R vs Audi S5, CAR+ June 2016

Published: 01 May 2016 Updated: 10 June 2016

► Peugeot RCZ-R (2014-2015) – save £15k!
► Audi S5 (2007-2012) – half price!
► Part two of our used car stars

Peugeot RCZ-R (2014-2015) – save £15k!

Can’t take front-drive sports cars seriously? Believe…

Sure is – a fast and involving two-door Pug with the cross-country speed to make a 2.7 Boxster blush. The gulf between standard-issue RCZs and the R can be encapsulated in just two words: Peugeot Sport. No sticker-’n’-big wheels job, the R is a thorough overhaul: stiffer springs (44% at the rear – boing!), tweaked anti-roll bars and a limited-slip diff. Oh, and then there’s the 1.6-litre turbo four, wound up to 266bhp. That’s 166bhp-per-litre. The 488 GTB’s V8 is good for 169bhp-per-litre. Can’t take front-wheel-drive sports cars seriously? This will change your mind.

The R’s a sniper rifle, though the physical experience of driving the livewire Pug quickly is more like grappling your target into sweaty submission with your shirt around your waist than executing a clean kill from 600 yards. That Peugeot Sport fettling means awesome grip, negligible understeer and the kind of power-on, diff-enabled corner exit drive that you’ll only believe once you’ve tried it. By contrast an Audi TT is inert, aloof and curiously unsatisfying.

A punishing ride on rough roads, a sat-nav keener on long-term relationships than quick, easy inputs, a bizarre gearknob, some odd ergonomics and, obviously, a complete paucity of rear seats. But on the plus side there’s the huge boot, 34mpg even when you’re mercilessly thraping the thing and epic depreciation: bad news for the first owners, great news for you.

Peugeot RCZ-R

From £17k (£32,250 new)

1.6-litre 4-cyl turbocharged, 266bhp, 5.9sec 0-62mph, 155mph

Cars we found

White with black leather, 14,000 miles, full history, 1 owner from new, dealer sale, £18,791

Buying intel

> Short run; arrived early 2014, died late 2015 
> Oil consumption is negligible and the temp needle shouldn’t move
> Front tyres get a hard time – budget £320 for a replacement pair

Audi S5 (2007-2012) – half price!

Style, speed and a big V8..

‘It’s perfectly obvious what this car is,’ said Audi in 2007, ‘it’s a modern grand tourer.’ Eh? A what? The S5 wasn’t easily understood, being an RS4-engined coupe with a big body, cramped back seats, a glorious non-turbo V8 and a chassis set-up to understeer so emphatically Ken Block couldn’t get one sideways. So what do you do with it, and why buy one? Because it still looks sensational, all de Silva stance and crisp curves, sounds fabulous and tackles tricky roads with huge grip, massive grunt and impressive refinement. And you can buy one for A1 dosh.

Blunderbuss, but gloriously so. The S5 is very definitely an S rather than an RS – push too hard and, well, you’ll get push, and a disconcerting lapse of decorum as the Audi struggles to know what to do with itself. But stay just within its limits and the S5 is fabulous: hot-tub comfortable, truly charismatic like few Ingolstadt products, grippy, poised and hugely quick. The Tiptronic transmission suits the car well on paper but in reality the manual is worth seeking out.

That aforementioned lack of dynamic involvement, oddly tight rear-seat accommodation despite the size of the car, the fuel bills (expect an average mpg in the high teens) and the fact that, being pre-facelift, the phase one cars are starting to look their age, even if they’re also still looking mighty fine. Pads, discs, clutches and tyres all take a pasting – buy a car someone else has cherished.

Audi S5

From £16k (£39,825 in 2007)

4.2-litre V8, 354bhp, 5.1sec 0-62mph, 155mph

Cars we found

2008, manual, silver with red leather, 38,000 miles, full Audi service history, B&O sound system, new tyres, private sale, £17,450

Buying intel

> V8 detuned and reliable
> Quattro drivetrain means tyres must be replaced in pairs across an axle
> Sat-nav wasn’t standard; HDD system better than the lowlier DVD-based set-up

Used car stars 2016 continued…

Used car stars 2016: save £35k on a BMW i8, plus 11 other used car bargains
Used car stars 2016: Jaguar F-type vs Porsche Boxster S
Used car stars 2016: Mercedes S-class vs Lexus GS
Used car stars 2016: VW Tiguan
Used car stars 2016: 208 GTi vs Swift Sport vs Focus ST
Used car stars 2016: Ferrari 458 Italia

Read more from the June 2016 issue of CAR magazine