Peugeot RCZ R
London - Arab Today
We all know perfectly well that a decent fast Peugeot has become an extremely rare car. Yes, the 208 GTI has initiated a return to form, but look at the Peugeot hatches during the 2000s; 206 and 207 GTIs, plus the 307 XSI
and 308 GT. Hardly inspirational.
And everyone is also aware of the abandon with which the phrase 'Peugeot is back to its best' or such like is thrown around. So it's with a little trepidation that we're quietly keen on the RCZ R.
Following a preview day at Peugeot Sport's Paris HQ, the RCZ R promises much. Really. The initial spec was released a little while ago, but the vitals are as follows: 270hp, 247lb ft, a six-second sprint to 62 plus a Torsen limited-slip differential.
Unfortunately, the originally quoted 1,280kg kerbweight appears to have been an error. The R is 17kg lighter than the RCZ200, but that car weighs 1,421 kg, making the R 1,404kg. Disappointing, but there are plenty of positives too.
The nerdy little details revealed in Paris are certainly encouraging. Like the swap from Conti Premium Contacts to Goodyear Eagle F1s (as used on the Porsche Cayman) for improved response and grip. Like using fixed four-piston brake calipers rather than floating items. And like using lighter wheels to reduce unsprung mass.
'Thorough' is a word that springs to mind when being talked round the RCZ R. Take the engine modifications for example. Getting 270hp from a 200hp 1.6-litre turbo isn't the job of an ECU reflash, but the attention to detail is encouraging. Forged Mahle pistons, new bearings and conrods, a different exhaust manifold, an entirely redesigned exhaust system, tweaks to the block plus the obligatory turbo and intercooler upgrades make for some comprehensive changes.
There was inevitably some discussion about a production engine with nearly 170hp/litre. Peugeot pointed us towards the RCZ Cup car, its racer that has been running a 250hp version of the EP6CDT 1.6 for a couple of seasons now. Peugeot Sport can therefore directly take experience from the race version for the road car. Tangible motorsport links get a thumbs-up from us.
Chassis tweaks include stiffer springs, new dampers and anti-roll bars plus wider tracks. Moreover, geometry changes will make the car 'more fun to play with'. That's a quote from the RCZ R technical chief. He mentioned too that circuit testing has taken place on six venues around Paris, with the focus on track performance. Track performance was an explicit priority for the changes made to the R from standard. The Megane 265 was benchmarked for its circuit handling, a very high bar to match.
Bombarded with PR talk and enthusiasm, new cars always appear exciting in isolation. Against hatches like the Megane and coupes like the Scirocco R, the RCZ R will face some hugely talented opposition too. But a day with the people behind the project makes us optimistic; we'll find out the reality with a drive next month.