By Patrick James on 2014-07-11 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Peugeot RCZ GT THP
PEUGEOT is not really a name associated with hot peformance cars.
Unless of course you think of the classic 205 GTi or the new 208 GTi. Oh, and there's the 908 diesel (yes diesel) Le Mans 24-hour race winner and of course, the best looking of the lot, the RCZ.
When the 2+2 coupe was launched in 2010 it was a bit a departure from its family saloons and hot hatches, entering the battleground dominated by the likes of the Audi TT.
It looked a million dollars with its sweeping coupe lines and signature double bubble roofline and offering high levels of standard equipment at a tempting price.
But not satisfied, Peugeot decided it was time for a facelift and the upgraded version was unveiled last year.
It has a new grille and light structure which consists of six LEDs in the form of claws behind a smoked lens which blends into the gloss black surround.
There are three new types of bodywork decals and two carbon roof options. The sweeping coupe lines are nicely set off with 18 or on this model, 19-inch alloys and adding to the sporting image is a self-deploying speed-activated rear spoiler.
As a 2+2 tourer, there's great room for the front two, but almost child-size seats in the rear.
At the same time it is practical and unusually offers great all-round vision thanks to large and cleverly-shaped glass areas.
There are a range of engines, petrol and diesel, but the 200bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine powering this model offers pace, power, and decent economy.
If the exterior looks chic and sporty the interior mirrors this with the highest quality fit and finish. The hand-stitched facia has a classy analogue clock as centre piece and controls are logical and well placed, if some of the buttons and switches are a bit fussy. It has yet to catch up with the minimalist but classy look featured in the likes of the new 308.
There is a quality leather interior on range toppers, automatic lights with dip function, auto wipers and front and rear parking sensors, automatic wipers and headlamps, dimming mirror, guide-me-home , plus Bluetooth and USB socket as standard.
For practicality the rear two seats double up nicely for storage space when the backrests are folded.
This increases a respectable boot capacity of 384 litres to 760 litres and now there is a storage compartment under its floor which adds an extra 30 litres.
A Sport Pack, now standard on GT models, includes the smaller diameter steering wheel, a shorter gear lever.
Often with sporty models, the performance does not match the styling but 200bhp unit delivers feisty if not rip-roaring perfromance. For that kind of grunt, choose the R model.
But it does race from 0-60mph in just 7.6 seconds. Economy is an impressive 42.2mpg with CO2 emissions of a respectable 155g/km.
Peugeot's sound system technology also enhances the exhaust note to give a real throaty roar under acceleration.
Power is delivered smoothly through a precise six-speed gearbox and the low slung body and sporty suspensions means the car remains stable and comfortable but with bags of grip when taking sharp bends and corners. The ride is on the firm side and the vehicle can be uncomfortable on rougher roads, but generally is a comfortable place to be.
On the motorway it is an excellent cruiser and overtakes effortlessly with either petrol or diesel models.
All Peugeots are packed with safety equipment and the RCZ is no exception, with features such as intelligent traction control is incorporated with the ESP, hill start assistance and comprehensive airbags to achievie a five star EuroNCAP rating.
With sales since launch of more than 57,000 this is pretty good for what is a niche car and it has without doubt, got better.
Peugeot RCZ GT THP 200
Mechanical: 200bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 146mph
0-62mph: 7.6 seconds
Combined MPG: 42.2
Insurance Group: 34
C02 emissions: 155g/km
Bik rating: 24%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles
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