Car review: Peugeot RCZ-R coupe

GP Dr Tony Rimmer says it drives well and has bucketloads of style.

Buying a car is usually the second biggest financial outlay in our personal lives, so it is not surprising that we choose carefully and take our time to find the right vehicle for our needs.

As GPs, we tend to be pragmatic in our decision-making but occasionally, to combat the pressures of the modern NHS, we like to treat ourselves and will choose a stylish coupe with sporty performance.

We all know about models that BMW and Mercedes offer but these are expensive cars so what is available at a lower cost?

Peugeot RCZ-R

Body: Two-door coupe
Engine: 1.6 -litre four cylinder turbo-petrol
Power: 270 bhp
Torque: 330Nm
Economy: Overall 44.8 mpg

The Audi TT and Volkswagen Scirocco are well-established and successful players in the coupe market but a relatively recent entry deserves consideration. In 2009, Peugeot revealed the RCZ, which represented a stunning departure for this French manufacturer. Based on the chassis of the 308 hatchback, the RCZ looks futuristic and stylish and heralds Peugeot's new direction in producing higher quality products.

Originally powered by either a 1.6litre petrol or two-litre diesel engine, the RCZ's performance never really lived up to its sporty looks. That is set to change with the recent release of the RCZ-R model. Still powered by the turbo-charged 1.6-litre four- cylinder engine used in lower models, the RCZ-R has been tuned to produce a significant 270 bhp. This, together with some subtle-but-significant changes to the chassis, has turned the stylish Peugeot into a proper sports car that will appeal to the keen GP driver. I have been testing the car to find out if it would fit in with everyday practice life.

Double-bubble roof

First impressions count for a lot and the RCZ-R's body is all about curves and has bucketloads of style. The wonderful double-bubble roof is framed by contrasting colour rails and the whole car looks low and sleek.

Standard equipment levels are high and there are leather sports seats and a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel. The interior is upmarket and although the materials used are not quite up to those in the German premium brand cars, it is a really pleasant place to be. The major controls fall easily to hand, although the driving position can be challenging to get right as the pedals are set slightly high and the ergonomics favour drivers with long arms and short legs.

On the road, the Peugeot drives rather well. Although the ride is a little firm at low speeds, the body control and handling is excellent.

The brakes are strong and inspire confidence when you are in the mood for a swift drive to blow the cobwebs away after a busy surgery. The new engine has bite and the extra performance really fits the character of the rest of the car.

This is a proper sports coupe and it sounds like one, with its raspy exhaust note.

The refinement is impressive too; Peugeot updated this car to make it quieter on journeys, using special acoustic glass in the windows. It is clever technology. Here we have a car with light controls that is genuinely fun to drive; a Peugeot like the models of the 1980s.

Negative points include a small glove box and restrictive rear seats only really suitable for children but show me a coupe that does not compromise its interior space in some way. The boot, by contrast, is huge and can be extended further if you drop down the back seats. Visibility to the rear is good, but the front view is slightly compromised by the thick A pillars. Such is the price of style.

So here we have a great looking coupe that is fast, fun to drive, wellequipped, boasts an upmarket interior and is refined on long journeys. You will turn no fewer heads than if you were driving any of the premium brand coupes and you will have spent a lot less of your hard-earned cash. Peugeot really has a winner on its hands with the RCZ-R. It would work well for GPs as an antidote to the stresses of modern primary care life.

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