When you think of the average Peugeot driver, the first thing that springs to mind probably isn’t somebody who’s particularly into their performance cars.
Maybe your mind conjures up ideas of families on the school run or a student in a slightly tatty old 206, but fast cars certainly aren’t something that most people would associate with the French marque, not these days at least.
Sure, Peugeot have had a long and varied history of performance cars and motorsport victories. In particular, the legendary 205 GTi almost single-handedly sparked the British obsession with hot hatches back in the 80s, but since then Peugeot’s reputation has slid into more mundane territory.
However, just when car fans thought that Peugeot had relegated itself to hatchback territory forever, along came the RCZ.
First introduced in 2010, the RCZ opened new horizons for Peugeot and reintroduced performance cars to the company’s line-up, picking up a considerable amount of critical praise along the way.
As is the natural order of things, the RCZ was then followed by the RCZ R, a more extreme version of the standard RCZ coupe, complete with more power, more performance and sharper handling.
We’ve already reviewed the standard RCZ model, and we thought it was pretty good, but what about its bigger and more exciting brother? Is the RCZ R just an uprated version of the standard model, or is it something else entirely?
There’s no denying it: the Peugeot RCZ R is one helluva looker. Based on the likes of the Audi TT, the RCZ R shares most of its design with the standard RCZ, complete with its elongated shape and signature ‘double bubble’ roof.
Long, low and lean on the road, the RCZ R features a new, bolder grille, while it also comes with performance-inspired tweaks like wider wheel arches, a fixed rear spoiler and twin exhausts.
Riding on exclusive 19-inch alloy wheels, the RCZ R has also been lowered by 10mm compared with the standard RCZ and features large red brake callipers bearing the Peugeot Sport logo, while a bodykit adds a subtle air of menace to the standard RCZ design.
The performance theme of the RCZ R extends to the interior, where it’s equipped with racy features like bucket-style racing seats and angry red stitching on steering wheel.
While Peugeot says that the rear seats in the RCZ R are spacious, in all honesty you probably won’t want to keep passengers cooped up in there for too long, and it’s therefore probably best to look at the rear seats as extra storage space.
Speaking of storage space, however, the RCZ R has a remarkably practical boot for a car of its kind, with 309 litres of space that’s able to swallow luggage, bags and other paraphernalia with ease, though if loading space is what you’re looking for, you’ll probably want to turn elsewhere.
Proving its status as the range-topping model in the RCZ range, standard kit is comprehensive, with sat-nav, a leather-covered dashboard and leather upholstery, plus dual-zone climate control and cruise control with a speed limiter.
Other features include a rear parking aid, along with the Peugeot Connect infotainment system and a seven-inch touchscreen, which supports DAB digital radio and smartphone connectivity.
On the road
However, while plenty of kit is certainly nice for those who want it, the main appeal of the RCZ R has always been and will always be in the driving experience.
Far from just a standard RCZ with an extra letter slapped on the badging, Peugeot has made sure to wring as much potential from the RCZ R as possible, and the result is blistering.
In fact, the company drafted in boffins from its motorsport wing specifically to engineer the R model to be as thrilling to drive as possible, and in that respect it’s pretty obvious that they succeeded.
Powered by the most powerful 1.6-litre petrol engine of its kind in the world, the Peugeot RCZ R pumps out 270bhp of pure fury, which is a full 70bhp more than the previous range-topping RCZ before the R model was released.
Adjustments have also been made to the chassis and powertrain to deliver extra speed on the straights and in the corners, while an all-new turbocharger, redesigned exhaust and new transmission have also been added.
All of this careful tweaking means that the RCZ R can sprint from 0-62mph in an incredible 5.9 seconds before going on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph.
Despite its sizeable output, the RCZ R is still supple on the road, more of a cougar than a lion, with a thrilling performance that’s also remarkably economical; far from being a full-on gas guzzler, the RCZ returns 44.8mpg with CO2 emissions of just 145g/km.
Compared with the regular model, the Peugeot RCZ R doesn’t feel like a token effort to add a range-topping model to the RCZ range, but really feels like a cut above in every way.
With more power and more grip than any Peugeot ever, it’s an absolute dream to drive, but interestingly it’s also remarkably practical and economical too for a sports car of its kind.
A more than viable alternative to cars like the Audi TT, the RCZ R offers arguably better performance, much better economy and with a price tag of £31,995 for the range-topper it’s cheaper too.
Peugeot dared to be different with the RCZ R, and if you’re the kind of motorist who dares to be different too, it’s available to buy from Perrys Peugeot dealerships now!