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Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156 - month three
Where have I been?
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking lady luck has got it in for you, not that we would ever condone such negativity here at MSN Cars.
All the little things that go wrong can get you down but that's why it's so important to bask in the warm glow of the stuff that goes right.
Even as pristine and unblemished success stories go, my recent trip to France in the Peugeot RCZ long termer was an award-winning effort. The weather can cold-bloodedly murder even the best-planned holiday so mid France in early October was a bit of a worry. As it turned out, though, the sun shone out of the clear blue skies over the Loire Valley for seven days with the temperature tiptoeing around the 30 degree mark for most of it.
The RCZ was in sublime form and back in the land of its fathers, the shapely little coupé was getting more attention than free baguettes. Late in the season with the roads all but emptied of tourists and the grapes being plucked from the vineyards all about, the driving was good.
What do I like?
My previous reports have praised the way the RCZ fulfils its sports car job description. The taut suppleness of the suspension and the lateral grip through corners are highlights but as long as you're not expecting an lunatic track weapon, there really isn't that much to fault.
This trip, however, demanded a subtly different skill set than the RCZ has shown so far. With a 450-mile mix of chaotic British motorway and virgin French Autoroute separating us from our destination, comfort would be crucial, performance and cornering speeds less so. Especially with my better half in the passenger seat practising the disapproving tuts and withering looks she'd use to nip any over-exuberant driving in the bud.
To my eyes, the RCZ's distinctive and stylish looks are only spoiled by its somewhat well-fed rear end but all is forgiven when you lift that boot lid and get a load of all the luggage space it's hiding. Because the boot is so shallow, it will be tricky to get certain items in but it's ideal for suitcases and holdalls. It took our baggage with room to spare.
With an SD memory card in the RCZ's slot holding 10 hours of musical accompaniment and the sat-nav system showing a reassuring grasp of its homeland's road network as the route was programmed, what could go wrong?
Ride comfort has a habit of creeping to the top of the agenda when you're tackling a long journey in a sports car. Early on, the dreaded M25 expansion joints gave cause for concern but I've driven luxury saloons that get flustered over those. Once the P&O ferry had clanged its bow doors open onto France, the RCZ served up miles of smooth progress.
The turbocharged engine was just as subdued. Cruising languid and quiet in sixth and feeling bigger than its 1.6 litres on the overtake, it also returned a 38.6mpg average, which can't be bad. Comfort was also helped by the seats. You often feel they could do with some extra side support during hard cornering but being wide and well-cushioned, they're great on a long drive.
What don't I like?
The week in France was the most intensively I've used the RCZ since it was delivered and one or two niggles were thrown up. The air vent on the top of the dash throws an annoying reflection onto the windscreen in bright sunlight and with the window open, the driver's side mirror (though strangely not the passenger one) produces a shrill whistling sound at anything over 30mph, as if there's a blackbird in the boot.
Neither point is going to taint the RCZ's record unduly, especially as sunlight and window down driving are both rarities in the British winter ahead. More of an issue is the control interface that continues to grate at times (it shouldn't be as difficult as it is to switch off the traffic reports or return to the map display after adjusting the radio) and the gearbox.
Peugeot doesn't have a fantastic record of producing sporty manual gearboxes but the RCZ's stick felt sturdier and more precise than the French marque's recent efforts when the car arrived. It was always a little on the notchy side but it's become more so with use and less pleasant to use. Finally, i'm also starting to detect an occassional rattle coming from behind the fascia.
What's next for the Peugeot RCZ?
We've got big things planned for the RCZ. Next time you'll be able to read about a showdown between Peugeot's finest and its arch rival in the compact coupé class - the Audi TT. There can only be one winner...
Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156: Arrival
Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156: Month two
Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156: Month three (this review)
Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156: Month four
Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156: final report
Gallery: Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156
Road test: Peugeot RCZ GT THP 200
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