PEUGEOT RCZ (2013 - 2017)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered

3dr coupe (1.6 THP petrol 156bhp, 200bhp or 260bhp / 2.0 HDi diesel 163bhp)


Peugeot’s strong history of sporting cars was successfully revived with this one, the RCZ. A gorgeous 2+2 coupe with curvy lines and a line-up of punchy but affordable engines, this sporting model brought new life to its brand when originally launched in 2010. Peugeot significantly updated it in 2013 to create the facelifted version that we’re going to evaluate here as a potential used car buy. This is still one of the most striking choices you can make in the search for a sports coupe of this kind on a reasonably affordable budget.

The History

Just over two hundred years ago, two brothers, Jean-Pierre and Jean-Frederic Peugeot, took a brave decision. They would set up a company in their father’s corn mill that would first sell saws and tools and go on later to sell bicycles, motorbikes and cars. More than 55 million vehicle sales and two centuries later, the lion emblem originally adopted to illustrate the strength of the teeth of the brothers’ handsaws adorned the most exciting machine the French company had ever created. One designed very much to sharpen its sportscar credentials. The exclusive, yet affordable RCZ.

Back in the early Nineties when Peugeot used to dominate the classic Le Mans 24 hour race, it also used to dominate the market for affordable sporting cars, the 205 GTi the must-have shopping rocket of its day. It died in 1993, along with Peugeot’s involvement on the track and the Gallic brand was never quite the same. Until the launch of this RCZ coupe in 2010. It was based on the humble underpinnings of the company’s first generation 308 family hatch and appeared just after this famous French marque had at last once again triumphed in Le Mans, overtaking Audi, whose TT sportscar this RCZ was designed to see off in the showrooms. Here, we were told, was the new face of a very different company, its first passenger car badged by name, not by number, and, we were promised, the first in nearly twenty years to rekindle the bite of the Peugeot brand.

In the years following, we saw some of that potential fulfilled but enthusiasts were still left wanting more. To try and satisfy them, Peugeot facelifted the RCZ in 2013 to create the version we’re going to look at here. A year later in 2014, they added a flagship RCZ R variant to the range, powered by a more potent 240bhp version of the 1.6-litre THP engine. The RCZ was finally phased out early in 2017.

What To Look For

We came across quite a few reliability and quality issues in our RCZ ownership survey, so you’ll need to shop carefully on the used market. We came across reports of squeaky brakes, rattly exhausts, internal rattles, a grinding sound on brake application and a knocking sound on the front suspension. On one car, the hill start brake kept sticking on and the overheating warning light kept illuminating. On another, the owner experienced oil leaks, water leaks, had to fit two new clutches and experienced faults with the sat nav and the stereo. One car had its thermostat sensor fail, had an oil leak from the gearbox and had to have sections of its exterior chromework replaced. On another, the cylinder head had to be replaced, along with the coms module, the boot release, the sat nav screen and the temperature sensor.

On The Road

Though the emotive looks aren’t quite as racy once you take a seat inside, it’s still hard not to approach a drive in this car without a sense of anticipation. What exactly will a coupe that looks like this really feel like to drive? If you’ve done your homework before slipping behind the wheel, your expectations might be tempered a little by the reality of the fact that the RCZ's underpinnings aren't those of a hardcore sports car. But so what? That’s the case in just about any affordable performance machine and it’s certainly true of this model’s most obvious rivals, Audi’s TT and Volkswagen’s Scirocco.

You might though, still be forgiven for expecting that such a futuristic shape would clothe something a little more hi-tech than the kind of front driven, torsen beam-suspended set-up found on any ordinary family hatch, in this case borrowed from Peugeot’s Focus-sized MK1 model 308. But as other brands have proved over the years, the ingredients available matter a lot less than the way that they’re used.

And the signs that they may have been used rather effectively in this case come the first time you venture off the highway and begin to flick this little lion from lock to lock. Here is a car involving enough to make an ordinary Audi TT seem really rather dull. Like the TT, it has a pop-up rear spoiler, this one activating in two phases, first at a shallow 19-degree angle at 53mph, then at a more overt 34-degrees should you be driving on a road where 96mph is possible.


This was a really classic piece of design. Some initially dismissed it as a cheap copy of Audi’s TT, but for us, they’re dead wrong. This is its own car with its own very distinct sense of style. Which fortunately didn’t change much in this improved form. Reliability issues that Peugeot never quite solved mean you’ll need to shop carefully, but if you find a good RCZ, you’ll get yourself a very desirable yet very affordable coupe.

It’s the kind of car that few of those who buy will ever have expected to be able to own. Exotic yet accessible, it’s still a compelling package – and a fitting tribute to an enduring brand.