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Discussion Starter #1
I give up, this site won't take bb code for the photos so that's that...

You can read about it here, or at ClubsmartCar.com under Auto Talk.
 

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Here is a shot of the rear spoiler in its fully "up" position, used at 155+ km/h. I took this shot when we were at a rest area on Autoroute A9 on the way to Spain, in the French holiday traffic. Happy driving, it was not, everyone in France goes on holiday at the same time! Once into Spain, it was great!

DSC08884 by p404c, on Flickr
 

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I love the RCZ!
Of course; I'd settle for an RCZ-R if that were the only one available to me :D


*and oh how sorely I miss my 505 Turbo
 

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I can import an RCZ into Canada in 2024, that seems 1000 years from now. For the RCZ-R, I'd have to wait until 2029! I will be 69 then, a long time to wait! I am thinking of getting a 200 HP RCZ in 2024 though.
 

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This was the last fill's result on the day we returned the car. It included some city driving and some 135 km/h work on the Autoroutes. 37 MPG US.

Overall MPG was calculated at the pump at 32.5 US MPG. That was about 30% urban driving in big cities 30% country roads and the rest on Autoroutes/Autostradas/Autopistas at 130-150 km/h, averaged over 5403 km (3200 miles).
DSC09137 by p404c, on Flickr
 

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Second jet-lagged day in France, on our way to friends at Metz right after this shot was taken...My wife enjoying the A/C on a HOT day....DSC00389 by p404c, on Flickr
 

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Here is my report, which now that I got some photos loaded, may be of some interest.

Background
My wife and I had been planning a trip to Europe since the fall of 2013, and after some consideration, we once again decided that we would need a car to get around to the places we wanted to visit. We had used Renault’s purchase/repurchase plan 6 times before and once – in 1995 – we had used a beautiful Peugeot 405 wagon painted in Bleu de Sèvres. This time I wanted something more interesting, a sporty car because we would not have any of our adult offspring with us. So I decided to go for a Peugeot RCZ, for 23 days. Living in Canada, where any new French car is forbidden fruit, this would be my only chance to have an RCZ.

Collecting the car
There was a warning at Charles de Gaulle-Roissy at the TT car pickup counter on July 15 that there had been a number of severe hailstorms over the previous week and that many new cars in the TT program had been damaged by hail….and that, although an attempt had been made to make any damage right, there was a chance that any car being delivered may have damage to it upon delivery. Ugh.

For a car that relies as much as any multi-hundred grand exotic upon its dramatic curves and lines as the Peugeot RCZ, this was potentially bad news. While worrying about this, I filled out the ownership/delivery paperwork in the tiny office and the worker went off to find the RCZ that had been registered in my name among the hundred or so other Peugeots in the lot. I was concerned that he’d come back with something like a 5008 or even a large 508, assuming the RCZ had been trashed in the storms. Perish the thought. Worse still, a dented 5008. Welcome to dystopia.

After what seemed like a long time trying to find our car - it was too low among the 2008s, 3008s and 5008s for me to see it properly from my vantage point – a dark grey metallic RCZ with brushed aluminium roof arches gently swanned into view as the driver brought it to us. It is SO much better looking in person than in photos. The worker backed it up to the office and handed me the keys after switching the navigation system to English (thoughtful of him!). I had bought an English owner’s manual from my friend Reiner Plass in Germany months before we left Canada, so I would be ready to drive it and use the navigation system once we got there.

Happily, the car was in perfect condition, untouched by the storms. We found that it had first been registered in my name on July 8th, a mere week before our arrival. Wearing the typically red number plates of a car delivered to a non-EC resident, ours was DH-785-LN, a number it will continue to bear for its entire lifetime, once it is sold to a French person (but on plates with black digits on a white background). The VIN : VF34J5FV8EP003536.

The RCZ is just a total stunner, it’s hard to sum up how much I love its design. This car is a head turner even in Europe, 5 years after its launch. We discovered that later during our travels in France, Switzerland, Italy and Spain, with the car drawing much attention in traffic. A modern classic with retro touches about it, Karmann Ghia-like. As a hardcore Pininfarina fan, I used to think the 406 Coupé was the epitome of modern Peugeot design, but it looks just bland and uninspiring next to something so extroverted as the RCZ. The curves of the RCZ’s roof arches, rear window, fender lines and everything else… are just 100% spectacular. It looked far too nice to drive. Really!

He left us to it, probably wondering how we would get five big suitcases into the sports car.

Specifications
1.6L THP engine (BMW/MINI/Peugeot/Citroën) type 4JFV8 which means it is the least powerful engine in the RCZ range, with 156 HP, 9 taxable horsepower (just like a 404 Injection!), 240 Nm of torque beginning at 1400 RPM, 6 speed manual transmission.

235/45-18 tires, reversing parking sensors

Suspension: front McPherson, rear torsion beam.

Brakes: front vented disc, rear disc

Options:
1. Sport Pack: small steering wheel with small flat on bottom, short throw gearshift, nicer instrument panel graphics, upgraded sound;
2. Integral Nappa Leather seating with door panels in leather, centre console in leather and dashboard in simulated leather, heated seats, electrically adjustable seats.
3. WIP Navigation Plus – built into a motorized LCD screen that opened out of the centre of the dash when the car was started, with speech recognition (which we didn’t bother using).

The origin of this car is very humble. It was produced as a show car based upon the platform of the (IMO ugly) then-new first generation 308. First shown as the 308 RC Z (with a space between RC and Z) in Frankfurt in September 2007, it had an immediate impact and many people practically begged Peugeot to make it. The show car had a lot of carbon fibre in it, and the double bubble rear window was made of polycarbonate. Some clever people at PSA gave it the go-ahead for production and two years later I was delighted to see and sit in the series version at Frankfurt in 2009. I wish I could have bought one then and there. Between show car and production model, some changes were made, but these were very subtle and in some cases beneficial. For example, the rear window on the production car is in glass (it must be a rather expensive part) and has heating elements like any other car, the carbon fibre has largely been replaced by aluminium, and an electric rear spoiler had to be added to ensure adequate stability in corners (i.e. avoiding lift-off oversteer) around and above 160 km/h. But these changes did nothing to spoil the car and it remains a style icon even five years after its introduction. The manufacturing of the RCZ was contracted out to the Canadian company Magna-Steyr in Graz Austria and they do assemble and paint them very well.

Ready to Go
With two full sized Samsonite Oyster suitcases, one other quite large Samsonite hard case and two large-ish carry on bags, we had to fold down the rear seats in order to get it all in, but it then fit easily with room to spare. I slid into the driver’s seat as did my wife Sandy into hers, and we adjusted them to our liking (very comfortable!), I adjusted the electric mirrors and steering wheel reach and rake, and in a jet lagged haze of 26 hours with no sleep, we set off towards the Autoroute A-1. Rather than heading straight into Paris at 2 PM and trying to stay awake, we headed north on the A-1 towards Lille. Stopping twice for double expressos on the Autoroute, I was able to admire the lines while drinking the stimulant. It’s a beauty all right, perhaps not in a classical sense but in the way the whole car hangs together as a brilliant design. Driving on an Autoroute at a steady indicated 135 km/h on cruise control is hardly the stuff of pure driving enjoyment but I could immediately appreciate the excellent steering (does anyone do steering as well as Peugeot? I think not), the great (smooth clutch action), the good (a smooth and relatively comfortable ride despite the huge wheels) and the not quite so good (a loose fit on the driver’s side window seal led to a little extra wind noise at those speeds). Also, the short throw shifter was – as I expected – slightly balky when the car was delivered with 7 km on the clock, but it loosened up nicely over the following 5400 km. If this were my car for good, the driver’s door seal would have to be changed under the warranty adjustment period. Or perhaps it wasn’t quite mounted in the right way. The seating position is low enough that reaching some of the ticket machines on the toll Autoroutes was a bit of a stretch.

We visited the World War I battle site at Vimy Ridge and the Canadian memorial and then drove back into Paris for the evening. Our hotel that night was on a canal next to La Villette, and we got a parking spot on the street right below our room. The next day we drove to Metz by a combination of D-roads and Autoroute, and stayed with old family friends for a couple of days.

Driving
Visibility from the low seating position is excellent for forward motoring (I am 190 cm tall), but the car is quite wide and gauging that width is a bit of a challenge in the narrow European parking lots, underground parking garages (that seem to be designed for smarts) and some village streets. In reverse, the parking sensors really are needed and so it’s a good thing that they are standard equipment. The navigation system is excellent too, although the instruction to “bear left” at an Autoroute exit (i.e. stay on the Autoroute and don’t take the exit) was hard to get used to at first. Also, the “bear left” instruction was usually only coming into play where two Autoroutes crossed, but occasionally it would say this for a normal exit. Aside from this minor complaint, finding any destination – in this case our friends’ home near Metz – was a snap and because Sandy isn’t all that fond of reading maps in a car because she can get carsick, it was a much-appreciated feature.

The car is well balanced between comfort and roadholding. The level of lateral force available from the wide Continental tires was astounding, and they were even very forgiving in the wet, on two rare days when it rained a bit. The prevailing balance in a fast corner is neutral, with a hint of lift-off oversteer being available to tighten the line when needed and also a bit of light understeer on the tightest of hairpin bends when really hammering on. Despite the simple rear suspension with pseudo trailing arms and a torsion beam connecting them, it was well damped and springing was good too, with only the odd bit of thump transmission between sides at the rear on large deformations. I have read that the ride and handling of the Peugeot Sport fettled RCZ-R models are even better.

After Metz, we spent two days in Strasbourg with our German friends of 30+ years, Reiner and his wife Heike at a hotel, and then drove through Switzerland (where we stayed overnight at Lugano and met a Swiss Club 404 member) and the next day onto Milano-Malpensa airport in Italy. The RCZ was left at the Milano-Malpensa Ibis hotel underground parking lot for four days while we were in Santorini. Santorini is fantastic by the way, having been to Greece twice before, this is the best bit we’ve discovered so far. The Nissan Micra rental we had there was a stark contrast to the RCZ. When we flew back and reunited with our faithful RCZ, we headed to the Côte d’Azur for five days.

Without the Torsen differential of the R version, you might think that traction could be a problem but it most certainly was not, at least with the engine our car had. The torque from just above idle speed was very impressive and it was very easy to shoot up to quite illegal speeds on the Autoroute in short order, when leaving a toll booth or on an entrance slip road. Officially the car does 0-100 km/h (62.1 MPH) in 8 seconds – which felt about right according to my butt dyno despite a heavy load in the car – and the top end is reportedly 220 km/h or 140 MPH. I was unwilling to risk car confiscation on the heavily monitored Autoroute so I did not do a top speed run, but I did bring it up to 180 in order to beat a bit of a high speed traffic clot that was forming once, and it was just a little blip of the throttle that basically did it.

The brakes are very good, even though they’re not the exotic-looking massive 380 mm discs on the R version, and despite some very intensive and fast twisty mountain road driving, they were always faithful, possessed of good feel, initial bite and power at the limit. I keep talking about the R version….it would have been nice to try one of them, but when I stopped at Peugeot Nice to see if they had the 270 HP model as a demo, all they had was the 200 HP version, which is too close to what we already had to make it worth driving. However the sales guy gave me the special R brochure as well as the order list. I suspect that most R versions will be special orders, in France at least.

On the climb up to the Col de Turini, I was of course not faced with winter conditions, even though the temperature at the summit was 12 degrees C cooler than down in Menton on the Mediterranean Sea. However, this is an extremely twisting route with super-tight hairpin corners that tested the car’s turning circle. One of the highlights of that drive was seeing off a modified Honda Civic that came out to play behind us on the corners when I was taking it easier, but its driver was quickly made aware of the limits of his car as we walked off into the distance as the roads got even more twisty. He was using the entire road to try and keep up but I was staying within my lane.

The other principal driving highlight was deviating from Marseille (when we were headed to Spain) up to Mont Ventoux. The climb up the Giant of Provence – it stands at about 1900 metres tall and the climb from the base is over 1800m – is epic, with much higher speed corners than Turini, so it was ultimately a more rewarding drive. The main problem on that road was the slowpokes going up and down, but the RCZ’s passing power made short work of them. This car is a real blast in the corners and I can only imagine how much better the R version is, not only in pure speed, but in the suspension settings, damping, springing and revised mounting points. Road testers have remarked how the Peugeot Sport work has transformed the car…EVO rated it at 4.5 stars, the same as the Porsche Cayman. Auto Bild Sportscars tested the R against the Porsche Cayman with 275 HP and the Peugeot won the comparison, was faster on the track and costs 20,000 Euros less.

As I mentioned before, a weak point of this car in the European context is that it is quite wide, which in one Nice parkade and at least one service station at Carpentras caused me to have to make three point turns where normally it would not be required, to avoid grinding up the huge alloy wheels on curbs, or clouting a corner of the bumper on some concrete. At that same service station in Carpentras, when I got out of the loaded car to fuel up, the bottom of the driver’s door scraped on a high concrete curb next to the opposite pump! In North America, this would absolutely not be a problem.

Being in the RCZ cockpit was a delight. You could see (and feel if you wanted) the beautiful curve of the roof at the back or the top of the rear window, which is so interesting to look at from outside the car. The seats were amazingly comfortable – much better than 405 seats. My wife Sandy, who was skeptical of this car when we first ordered it because of its sporting nature, said this to me during the trip. They even had embossed Peugeot lions on each backrest. The dashboard and centre console artificial leather covering was beautifully made and fitted, and gives the car a feeling of premium luxury which is unusual in a relatively inexpensive car like this. Although it was summer, and the split temperature and A/C controls made it possible for each of us to choose our own settings, on each side of the car, Sandy tried out the three stage heaters. (Even I tried it twice). On full power they seemed a bit modest in their output but that could be because there are thermocouples in the cushion and backrests and the car was already quite warm inside. The air conditioning was beyond reproach and cooled the cabin with its massive glass area (mainly the front and rear screens) to a comfortable 19 degrees on a 41 degree day. The electrically folding mirrors were useful on the narrow streets such as in Menton and Paris where the parallel “payant” parking spaces were only wide enough for the car, and not the mirrors!

The longest day’s drive we did was from Cardona Spain to Unverre France with a detour at Limoges to the somber Oradour-sur-Glane, for a total of 1000 km, les mille bornes comme on dit en Français. We arrived at our destination at a very good 404 Club friend’s home with no complaints at all despite being middle aged or worse, both with trick backs to boot. That is a testament to the absolute comfort of this Peugeot sports car. While visiting with “Anatole”, I offered test drives of the RCZ to him and two other Club 404 members who were also there over the couple of days. All came away mightily impressed after a blast around the country roads near Chartres. A bonus was that I got to drive a 404 sedan and 404 Coupé Injection again!

Knowing that our time with this wonderful car was coming to an end, I wanted a souvenir. Michel got his perceuse out and we drilled out the front license plate rivets, then screwed it temporarily back into place for the final drive up to Calais. Once we had arrived at the Calais ferry terminal, with 5403 km on the odometer, the plate was removed in front of the building, which is where the car was returned to Peugeot. The returning agent noticed the plate was missing and asked me in French what had become of it and I told him I had removed it as a souvenir…he said he didn’t know what to do about it and then moved onto signing the car back over to Peugeot. Good for us! He got a 5 Euro tip from me after that. The red plates would have been recycled anyway because only non-EC residents can have them – when the car is resold with French plates (same number though) it will have white ones. Since we got back home, that front plate, debugged, has been on our bedroom wall.

Summary
The fuel consumption of the 156 HP RCZ was very good, with an average of 7.3 L/100 km over the 5400 km, including lots of city driving and stop-and-go on Autoroute A-9 on the way to Spain on August 2, the spirited hillclimbs and a normal highway speed of 135 km/h. Driven over here in Canada, it would be in the low 6s, in line with our 1.6 L Ford Fiesta perhaps.

It’s a lamentable shame that we had to give the car back. It was really lovely to look at and fun to drive. It was comfortable and the fuel consumption was very good. I knew from the time in September 2009 when I first sat in one that I had to drive it, and nearly five years later, it proved to be even better than I expected. I want an RCZ-R in the worst way. But I can’t have one. Mine would be red….oh yeah baby!

Now I have to do some math. I will be 65 years old when the oldest RCZ can be legally imported to Canada as a 15 year old car….or 69 years old when the oldest RCZ-R can be imported. Hmmm. Maybe get a first generation car for 5 years then sell it, and move into an R as a 70th birthday present?
 
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