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It's almost hard to believe that Peugeot is actually launching this car. When the RCZ concept was shown at 2007's Frankfurt motor show, it was largely dismissed as another one of those show vehicles that creates a stir then disappears back into obscurity.
Not this time. Following a recent run of good form with the excellent 3008 hatchback/MPV crossover and 5008 Mini-MPV, Peugeot has decided to bring some serious glamour to the brand with the closest thing Audi's TT has had to a rival, visually at least, since that car was originally launched in 1999. If anything, the RCZ is something of a first by being even better looking than the jaw-dropping concept, and will turn heads everywhere it goes when first deliveries kick off in May.
The RCZ will arrive initially with a choice of 2.0-litre diesel and 1.6-litre petrol engines, toting 163hp and 156hp respectively. A rip-snorting 200hp petrol version will follow in the summer, along with an automatic version of the lower-powered petrol.
Peugeot understands it doesn't have the brand cachet to take on Audi, and its pricing reflects that, with a start point of £20,450 and stretching to just over £25,000.
As well as the range-topping 200hp petrol version, which for a car emitting under 161g/km of CO2 is almost obscenely good, the diesel was available to drive at the launch event. From the inside, you'd never know it's a diesel given both the performance and particularly refinement. Although it doesn't have the aural bark of the 200PS petrol, it certainly has no hint of diesel clatter and the ride quality and driving experience are polished, if not quite up there with the excellent TT. Its biggest problem is the larger, overly sized steering wheel Peugeot has for some reason seen fit to give the diesel. The smaller one in the 200PS petrol version is a more sensible fit with a snug cabin that, on the higher-spec GT version at least, features some pleasant stitched-leather upholstery and comfortable leather sports seats.
The cabin, although obviously from the usual Peugeot stock, is well laid-out and functional, but the rear seats, described by Peugeot as being for occasional use, are smaller and more difficult to access than the Audi TT's. However, on the flip side, the boot is 19 litres bigger at 310 litres and can easily be extended to 760 litres by dropping those rear seats.
Equipment is good, with all models coming with 18-inch alloys, auto dual zone climate control, rear parking sensors and ESP, while the £2300 step up from Sport to GT spec adds leather interior, electric heated front seats, front parking sensors (handy as no metal is visible from the driving seat) and auto lights and wipers.
This is possibly the most desirable, shocking and adventurous car Peugeot has ever produced. It's to the company's credit that it has even got to the road, let alone with a costs equation and driving experience to match its desirable looks. Modest sales targets should mean guaranteed success.
Peugeot RCZ GT HDi 163
Model price range
BIK 20/40% per month
Boot space (min/max)
Stunning, head-turning and desirable with running costs to match