Peugeot RCZ

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WHY PERFORM when you can preen? That’s the question the Peugeot RCZ puts forth as it haughtily struts down the runway, all pouty and double-bubble window-booby (its rear glass curves and bulges like that on no other car). As fashion statements go, the RCZ has not been slacking in terms of updates, too -- apparently, its face needed retouching. Not that there was anything wrong with it in the first place, but still Peugeot was quick to react to its supermodel’s whims.

“Common” cars that look as fabulous as the RCZ come few and far between. Why “common?” It’s because the RCZ, despite its 2+2 low-slung cut, is really not that far off from a mid-tier family sedan or a hot (well, warm, to be more precise) hatchback in terms of the oily bits. The RCZ does not pack exotic suspension or brakes. Its engine is the 154hp, 240Nm, 1.6-liter turbo-charged gasoline unit (linked to an advanced six-speed auto gearbox though) that, in one slightly revised form or another, sees duty on a variety of Peugeots and corporate sibling Citroens. True, its price tag in the Philippines is not exactly “common,” at a shade below three million, but it’s uncommon only if the car is stacked against its Japanese or Korean sport coupe ilk. Then it seems expensive. But, consider, freight costs alone drive the RCZ’s sticker up.

What comes with the purchase is a wardrobe that is simply one of the most stylish ever, draped over a body whose silhouette purports mid-engine erotica when the car it dresses up is merely a front-driver.

Introduced only in 2010, the RCZ (both the original and the face-lifted version being reviewed here) has already earned its share of coffee-table book column inches for being one of the most attractive cars in history. What we’re looking at here is a future classic.

Its cabin is not terrible either, smacking of quality in terms of materials used, fit and finish, and styling details. The dashboard and other “touch points” are soft and pleasantly textured. The controls aren’t odd and are placed where you would instinctively assume they would be -- just like in Japanese cars, and in contrast to German ones. The audio does not require the tech aptitude of a teenager for you can operate it. There are no rattling bits and the different panels line up well. The front seats are supportive and cushy.

Like in most sports cars, you sit low in the RCZ. But unlike in most sports cars, the view out to the rear of the RCZ is refreshingly wide, clear.

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Granting the car’s higher freight expenses and duties, most of the costs that make up the RCZ likely went to its leather furniture, silvery trim and fat 19-inch alloys. Plus, that designer wardrobe, with the new LED jewelry, must have come at designer prices, too.

Because the car’s mechanical pieces should not really cost much on account of these, as mentioned earlier, being “common.” And yet the RCZ lacks stuff consumers now enjoy on some budget econoboxes, and therefore expected on premium European models costing millions.

You know, toys like a touch-screen audio with the matching control buttons on the steering wheel. Or a smart key with push-button start/stop.

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If potent performance is the goal, the kind that pushes you back into the seats when you floor the throttle, then the RCZ does not fit the bill.

What it’s best suited for is curbside posing or boulevard preening. The RCZ is no supercar. What it is is a supermodel.

And that’s not a bad thing at all. -- Brian M. Afuang

BLUFFER’S BOX


Peugeot RCZ
Price: P2.950 million
Engine: 1.6-liter, inline-four, high-pressure turbo, gasoline; 154hp @ 4,000rpm, 240Nm @ 1,400rpm-4,500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
Wheels/Tires: 19 inches, 235/40
Key features: Tire deflation indicator; LED daytime running light; HID head lamps; rain-sensing wipers; power-folding side mirrors; active rear spoiler; leather seats, steering wheel; automatic dual-zone climate control; JBL audio with six speakers