Like the original Audi Tt
, Peugeot's new RCZ is a stylish and compact sports coupe built on the platform of a mainstream, front-drive hatchback. But it's been a dozen years since the Volkswagen Golf
-based German went into production, and three more since the TT concept was first revealed at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show. Perhaps the French just wanted to be absolutely certain the idea would stick...
can't be accused of creating a hasty imitation, the similarities between the RCZ and TT are remarkable. The French car began as a concept unveiled at the 2007 Frankfurt show. Turning it into a production car took three years. It's built on the platform of a volume-production European C-segment model, in this case the 308. Every one of these steps treads in the faded tracks of the TT. Price is the only point where Peugeot
departs from the blueprint. Going on sale across Europe through May, the RCZ will wear price tags 20- to 25-percent lower than equivalent TT models.
This is a big discount, but the RCZ does not lack for style. It's easily the most convincing and cohesive car turned out by Peugeot's studios in recent years. The cab-forward proportions are pleasingly attractive, hinting at the presence of something powerful in the coupe's tail, even though in reality its four-cylinder engine resides up front. The stepped waistline provides a launching pad for a pair of athletically muscular haunches, while genuine aluminum garnishes the artful arc of pillars and roofline. And the rear of roof features a double-bubble form that continued through the rear glass. While vision to the rear and sides is good, the A-pillars can make properly sighting some corners impossible, and the front of the car is pretty much invisible from the driver's seat.
RCZ's interior is less original than its exterior. The Peugeot's circular air vents are reminiscent of the TT in particular and the neat stitching of the leather trim and upholstery of Audi
in general. Like the TT, the rear seats aren't designed for full-size humans. Peugeot
describes them as intended for "occasional use." Still, when flipped forward, the coupe's already reasonable 11 cubic feet of cargo capacity is doubled. One of few differences between RCZ and TT is that the Peugeot
doesn't have a liftback. There's a normal trunk instead, with a two-position spoiler built into its lid.