Peugeot RCZ GT HDI

Peugeot RCZ, 13 plate, front, action
Peugeot RCZ, action
Peugeot RCZ, interior
Peugeot RCZ, side, action
Peugeot RCZ, front, static

BOLD is best - well the adage has certainly worked for Peugeot with its extravagantly styled RCZ coupe.

When it was first shown as a concept in 2007 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, few imagined it would ever see light of day. The contoured, bubble roof, the swoopy lines and the bulging wheelarches appeared destined for little beyond a show stand. How wrong we were...

Not since the Audi TT of the Nineties - a coupe not without similarities to the RCZ - had a major manufacturer produced a cat-out-of-a-bag in this way.

Still more surprising was that the trick had been performed by a maker more usually associated with sensible family hatches and estate cars.

Now three years after it first went on sale, we have the second generation RCZ with tidied up nose, a better model structure and a greater array of options as befits an individual coupe.

The range kicks off with the 1.6 Sport  with 154bhp at £21,595 and goes up to the spirited 198bhp THP200 GT costing £26,380 - both petrol -powered. There's also a diesel 2.0-litre which has a 161bhp engine and it was this version in top GT spec that I drove. The price is £25,830.

It's always something of a balancing act trying to produce the right performance-economy and ride-handling compromise with a coupe that is designed to have wide appeal.

Not all the drivers will be mad keen enthusiasts and many will have bought the car more for the looks than the dynamics. Peugeot appears to have solved the equation with a stylish model that can be hurled round bends yet offers a compliant ride.

It's one of those few cars that's as good driven slowly as it is quickly. Some of this is down to the excellent steering which really lets the driver know what's happening. The six-speed manual gearbox is also a treat.

Performance stats look fairly middle-of-the-road with an 8.7 second dash to 62mph and a 137mph maximum, but the torquey diesel allows substantial mid-range grunt and the excellent refinement means that high speeds can be kept up with little strain.

It's good news for the wallet when it comes to economy. Despite making the most of the ample power, it averaged 43mpg with a best of 50mpg. The official combined figure is 53.2mpg with emissions of 139g/km, putting it in tax band E.

You don't buy a coupe for its cabin space - even if it is described as a two+two.

The RCZ has a couple of seats in the rear but it's best to use them for extra bags, or a short emergency trip for a couple of small kids.

Space in the front is fine so long as you are ok dipping your head to get in.

The new-look leather seats, which are heated, look good and are extremely comfortable. The near-horizontal rear is an opening tailgate which adds to the practicality and allows more than 300 litres of luggage, which is a tad more than a Fiesta.

Dazzling to look at yet cheap to run, the RCZ continues to win Peugeot new friends.

FAST FACTS

Peugeot RCZ GT HDI

Price: £25,830

Mechanical: 161bhp,  1,998cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 137mph

0-62mph: 8.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 53.2

Insurance Group: 30

C02 emissions: 139g/km

Bik rating: 21%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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