Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Review: 2014 Peugeot RCZ

Photos by Ulysses Ang
When Peugeot says to the world that wanted to become a design-driven car company, it set out an atomic bomb in the form of the RCZ. Living up to the company’s tagline, “Motion & Emotion”, the RCZ quite literally is a head-turner. It’s responsible for quite a number of strained necks from doing double-takes or craning just to take a better look at the car. It has rapidly made the transition between concept car to production reality quickly and as a result pushed the French brand from oddball obscurity to style icon. What Peugeot has successfully achieved here is to put style above everything else; style above performance, practicality, and pricing. And you know what, it’s very French and it works.

Seeing it in the flesh, the Peugeot RCZ clearly has style in abundance. This is one of a tiny handful of cars that cost P 2,850,000 but have the visual impact of something four or five times the price. And of that handful, none runs the RCZ close. Even if it sits in your garage, you’re forced to double and triple-take this car as you absorb the unlikely curves, supercar stance and balance. It still oozes with the improbable, even impossible, like the double-bubble roof that runs seamlessly into a curved rear window. And yet here it is, in the metal and glass. The front end gains the Peugeot family face with the two satin chrome bars and central air intake. The lower air intake extends slightly outward, meeting the signature LED daytime running lights, aligning itself quite nicely with the triangular headlight cluster. Together with the 235/40R19 alloys, the RCZ is one car you actually desire to drive.



Inside, the RCZ’s interior is far less dramatic than what its exterior suggests. Nonetheless, it’s pretty straightforward and nice to be in. With all the light that comes in because of the huge rear glass, the RCZ is particularly inviting despite the all-black color motif. Opening the hefty doors, a meaty, flat-bottomed steering wheel greets you front and center as you settle into the one-piece sport bucket seats. The dashboard is covered in what looks to be leather (with contrasting white stitching). The gauges feature carbon fiber inlays and white dials, emulating high-end watches while housed in four separate binnacles with a large multi-function display sandwiched in-between. With the exception of the analog clock, the center console is the least interesting bit of the RCZ. However, at least it’s far easier to understand than some other Peugeot models thanks to controls which are actually clustered by function. There are still some stragglers here and there that make life confusing (the stalk-based audio controls in particular), but overall, the RCZ delivers on the promise of being a driver’s car.

With style taking precedence over everything else, several compromises have been made to the RCZ that can reduce its everyday livability. The most obvious is its ergonomics. Despite having a full range of adjustments in the steering column and seats, getting the right driving position is difficult. Even after almost a week with the RCZ, the best compromise I could find is with the feet too close to the pedal and the arms a bit outstretched. Combine this with the lack of bum support from the single-piece bucket seats; it can make long drives quite tiring. Even after just three hours behind the wheel, you will need to take a break and stretch before driving on. The next compromise has to do with visibility. Because of the curvaceous shape, there are several blind spots on the RCZ, particularly at the front and rear three-quarters. Finally, there’s the space or the lack of it. Despite being classified as a 2+2 and looking big on the outside, there’s almost no space for rear occupants. The popular notion would think that having the double bubble roof would have translated to more headroom; unfortunately this isn’t so because of the sharply raked angle of the rear glass. The same goes for the luggage space which is adequate, but not large.



The RCZ is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine with 156 horsepower and 240 Nm of torque. These figures don’t sound like much, and they certainly aren’t. Twist the key and the RCZ awakens with an absolute lack of drama. It’s quiet—sounding like any other car with none of the rumbling exhaust or deep engine note you think comes with the RCZ’s shape. However, once you re-adjust your expectations to match the muted performance, it’s actually quite good. You’ll be surprised at how lithe the RCZ is, especially in the city. Peak torque comes at a low 1,400 rpm making it feel quick from a standstill. The 6-speed automatic is fairly quick and smooth to engage, making the engine keep within the optimal power band. However, as the roads open up, the RCZ reaches its limits quite early. Reaching highway speeds is actually no problem, but it can feel underpowered when attempting an overtaking maneuver. Still, treat the RCZ as a gentle Sunday cruiser, it performs beautifully. The added benefit of having a small engine is the RCZ’s good fuel economy: 11.49 km/L combined (8.47 km/L city, 17.85 km/L highway).

On the move, the RCZ’s chassis echoes its engine. It’s not downright sporty, rather it tiptoes the balance between sportiness and comfort. Despite having a torsion beam rear suspension, it’s actually composed with a chassis that’s involving and confident. It manages to absorb all sorts of road imperfections even with the low-profile tires. The steering is also linear with good accuracy and response. The RCZ features a pop-up rear spoiler that automatically pops up at two speeds to improve stability. It opens when the car reaches 85 km/h and pops up completely when it tops 100 km/h. At night, the active directional HID headlights are an added bonus. Working with the direction of the steering wheel, it lights up the roads effectively especially when taking a curve. The brakes perform well with good bite and pedal feel. Plus, it comes with a host of safety features including Electronic Stability Program or ESP to help out when things get hairy.




Despite its shortcomings, the Peugeot RCZ is certainly a bold step in the right direction for the French company. More than any of their other product offerings, it’s a showcase of the company’s willingness to take risks in achieving something daring. In fact, by listening to their buyers to produce the RCZ from concept car to production car, they have successfully injected the brand with sex appeal, inoculating it from blandness. The RCZ certainly puts style above everything else and though this may not be the car for everyone, it’s undeniably a work of art you can both appreciate and drive. That alone makes it worthy of consideration.





2014 Peugeot RCZ
Ownership 2014 Peugeot RCZ
Year Introduced 2012 (Facelifted: 2013)
Vehicle Classification Sports Car
The Basics
Body Type 2-door coupe
Seating 2+2
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.6
Aspiration Turbo
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 156 @ 5,800
Nm @ rpm 240 @ 1,400
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 95~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,287
Width (mm) 1,845
Height (mm) 1,359
Wheelbase (mm) 2,612
Curb Weight (kg) 1,424
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires 235/40R19
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 4
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes
Exterior Features
Headlights HID
Fog Lamps Yes, Front and Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electric
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat No
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes, Dual
Audio System Stereo
CD
Aux
USB
Bluetooth
No. of Speakers 6
Steering Wheel Controls Yes

6 comments:

  1. Hi Ulysses, I salute you as the most vocal and honest local auto writer, your road tests and reviews are always accurate, knowledgeable and no fear of telling it like it is, this review is a good example, keep it up I will always check with you first before I make my decision on any car acquisition

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  2. This car is the best example of STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE.


    Some guy: Wow, you've got a nice looking car. I bet it has massive power under the hood.

    Owner: Uh..... It has 156 hp..

    Some guy: .... Its almost the same as any 2.0L compact sedan.. Wtf..

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. I own one RCZ and i bet to differ, it doesn't feel underpower at all when you overtake and the engine even if it is 1.6, its high pressure turbocharged...also you have an S button near the gear shift which will increase the power you have compared to normal cruise...
    Probably OP didn't really drive this car and he was an passenger...or i can't imagine how he can say this car can't overtake...seriously?
    I know its not an monster sports car like Lambo, Ferrari or Buggatti but she packs a punch and when you press that gas pedal you will be pushed to the chair...
    I guess depends of driver but yea its fast and its not High Pressure Turbo Charged for nothing, i advice OP to try the car again and drive it this time ;)
    Its an affordable sports car, the price its a bit higher because of PH customs are high but if you want something out of normality of GT86's, Subaru BRZ and Genesis Coupe this car its one choice
    I hit 100 km/s in around 6.5 seconds on highway and that's more then enough for me as i'm not an racer, i just wanted an fast car and for me the RCZ its fast
    The only modification i found necessary and i agree with OP on it its the sound of the exhaust, so i changed the factory one with an aftermarket BORLA which added an awesome tonality to an already awesome car.
    The car interior its posh, full leather , with very easy adjustable chairs and steer wheel to fit your size (i have a big frame and i feel so comortable in it) and JBL sounds system...the units brought to PH are all full options, the is no low-end choice

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    Replies
    1. Hi Caddy, I also got one and I could not agree with you more. May I know where you got your after market Borla exhaust? Thanks.

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