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Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156: month four
Pros: Head-turning looks, grippy chassis, manageable costs, surprisingly big boot
Cons: Complex minor controls, small rear seats
Where have I been?
First the RCZ headed for deepest, darkest Surrey to lock horns with its arch nemesis - the car it was designed to challenge for top spot in the compact coupe market. That's Audi's TT, in case you were wondering.
The pair went head to head in an MSN Cars twin test to establish once and for all which was better. The result was an honourable second place for the Peugeot but it emerged from the contest with considerable credit.
Undaunted, Peugeot's coupe then gate-crashed another winter twin test between two sports cars. Except this time the participants were a lot further out of its league. When we travelled to Santa Pod drag strip for a Britain versus America clash between Jaguar's XKR-S and the Corvette C6 Grand Sport, the little French coupe tagged along. It even got to stretch its legs on the famous quarter-mile.
What do I like?
You might think that driving the RCZ back-to-back with cars of the calibre of Jaguar's XKR-S (£97,000, 550hp) and Corvette's Grand Sport (£73,000, 431hp) would expose the £27,000 Peugeot's shortcomings. It did, but it also highlighted the fact that you don't need big power to have real fun.
Whereas opportunities to extend the Jag and the Corvette hardly ever materialise on public roads, you can legally push the 156hp Peugeot much closer to its limits. The rush of acceleration and ultimate pace over the ground might not compare but on tight, twisty routes the French car danced through bends that the heavyweights had to be nursed carefully around before you could get the hammer down.
In its encounter with the Audi TT, the RCZ also came through with flying colours from the keen driver's perspective. It wasn't as comfortable to ride in or as quick as the Audi but its steering and flat cornering stance made it the car most likely to produce a happy driver.
What don't I like?
You can't buy an RCZ for under £20,000. That shows Peugeot's faith in its product and it's a faith with strong foundations from what our long-term test has thrown up so far. Peugeot's problem is the availability of a Volkswagen Scirocco with similar performance for almost identical money and Audi's TT lurking upmarket for around £3,000 more.
The RCZ can eclipse both of these cars from the perspective of driving enjoyment but as an all-round ownership propositions, the build quality and comfort levels of the alternatives are hard to match. Then you have to factor in the Audi's residual values and the four-seater practicality of the Volkswagen.
To choose the RCZ you really have to appreciate the way it drives and love the way it looks, neither of which is hard to do.
What's next for the Peugeot RCZ?
The Peugeot RCZ's long-term test is drawing to a close. It's due to leave the fleet early in the New Year and as long as nothing goes catastrophically awry in the final few weeks of its time with us, we'll be hugely sorry to see it go.
Not many people have the cash or the lifestyle that allows them to run a little coupe as their daily drive but if you think you might be able to manage, it's definitely worth a try. Keep your eyes peeled for the final report on the RCZ in a month's time.
Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156: arrival
Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156: month two
Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156: Month three
Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156: Month four (this review)
Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156: final report
Gallery: Peugeot RCZ GT THP 156
Road test: Peugeot RCZ GT THP 200
Read more Peugeot car reviews
Read more long-term tests
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