Designers begin working on a facelift before the confetti at a new car launch has settled. Peugeot might have figured that their signature gaping grille would lose its novelty. So the latest RCZ sports a face with more tight-lipped look. Aesthetics are a subjective thing: this scribe liked the grinning visage of old. Thankfully the athletic feline still induces a massive simper where it counts.
When we first tested the RCZ two years ago we deemed it an Audi TT doppelgänger with more passion. Not much has changed. The Peugeot still makes her Teutonic rival look like a taciturn girl next door. Charisma leaks from each panel. It looks like a crouching lion with those swollen rear fenders. And everyone marvels at those two bubbles on the roof. The glamour rating is high.
And the quality levels are too. Those large doors are heavy and close with an assuring thud. Supple leather clads the figure-hugging front seats. Even the dashboard and door panels are swathed in skin. A classy timepiece garnishes the fascia. This all culminates in a feeling that you are driving something exotic.
Explore the RCZ tab on the Peugeot website and you will see no options list. Electric seat adjustment, climate control, cruise control and a digital interface with navigation are some of the toys as standard. Scratchy plastics in some areas and buttons lifted from older Peugeot models are the only demerits on the score chart.
These minor shortcomings are forgivable when you relent to the immersive drive it offers. You can have an automatic transmission. Opt for manual mirth if you want maximum enjoyment. The Peugeot has a wonderfully wiling nature. Its four-cylinder turbocharged mill enjoys being wrung-out and hits high digits on the tachometer without feeling strained. A throaty buzz reverberates through the cabin. There is plentiful overtaking poke on the freeway in sixth. We liked weighted steering wheel and low seating position.
The best part of the RCZ is that it is accessible. This Peugeot is not as ubiquitous as its German counterpart. Looking at pre-owned models, it seems to take a considerable depreciation knock. New list prices are R454 400 for the automatic and R467 000 for the manual. We found low-mileage examples listed on our website going for less. One 2014 facelift model with a mere 50 kilometres on the odometer is marked down to R399 950 at a Peugeot dealership. If you prefer the previous model, you could hop into one with under 10 000 kilometres for R309 000.
Falling prey to the charms of this French feline is easy. Unlike the “lean and hungry type” Hall & Oats mentioned in the song Maneater, this cat will not chew you up. Peugeot has come a long way in terms of quality and reliability. Those lengthy standard warranties and maintenance plans attest to their confidence. The RCZ is a lovable machine. This is a car we would recommend any day of the week.
The Technical Stuff:
Model: 2014 Peugeot RCZ 1.6 THP Manual
Price: R467 000
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged
Power and Torque: 147kW and 275Nm
Fuel Consumption: 10l/100km (Achieved)
Test Mileage: 520 kilometres
Praises: Glamourous personality, exotic car interior, tons of toys, exclusivity, relatively affordable.
Gripes: Scratchy plastics sneaked in, dated switchgear, fiddly navigation system.