Today whoever’s running Peugeot UK’s Twitter account decided to remind us all of the RCZ R. It’s a car you might well have forgotten about - just 305 came to the UK. Not exactly the sort of thing you’ll see all that often.
In fact, there are more Ferrari 488 Pistas on UK roads. If the numbers on How Many Left (which we’ve run past Ferrari and are awaiting confirmation on) are to be believed, there are 547 Pistas of which 441 were licensed for road use in the last quarter of 2020. In comparison, 271 RCZ Rs were taxed at that time.
The price for this rarity? These days, a very reasonable £16,000. For that, you’re getting a car that still looks striking some years after production stopped, with those muscular rear haunches and that Zagato-inspired double-bubble roof. The R added fancier 19-inch wheels and a sizeable, Mk1 Audi TT-esque fixed rear spoiler.
What you get under the skin isn’t quite so exotic - the RCZ shared a platform with the first-generation 308 hatchback. Indeed, the concept that preceded the production model was called the ‘308 RCZ’. So, underpinning this pretty coupe is a humble front-wheel drive, MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear chassis. Oh, and the dashboard is carried over from the 308 with barely any alterations, but hey, at least you don’t get the weird ‘i-Cockpit’ found in more recent Peugeot products.
In any case, Peugeot Sport worked hard to bring out the best from the 308-borrowed architecture in the R. Compared to a regular RCZ, the R had a 10mm lower suspension setup that was stiffened (14 per cent front/44 per cent rear) and had completely rejigged geometry featuring more negative camber. Alcon supplied meatier brake calipers that squeezed 380mm discs, while Torsen’s tried and tested limited-slip differential effectively managed the anger dolled out by…a 1.6-litre engine.
This was no ordinary 1.6, though. Clunkily designated the ‘EP6CDTR’, the little inline-four had a stronger block than its similarly-sized 197bhp sibling, along with a new turbocharger, Mahle forged pistons and beefed-up con-rods. The result? 267bhp and 243lb ft, making for a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds. At the time, it was the most powerful car Peugeot had ever made, and yet the official fuel economy figure was 44.8mpg.
The RCZ R received plenty of praise for its fine chassis and punchy engine from many motoring publications, Car Throttle included. We ran one for a little while as a long-term test car and loved it, but as far as the buying public went, the RCZ R remained a niche proposition amidst more obvious options like the Audi TT.
As a consequence, you won’t be blessed with choice when looking for one on the used market. There are a few kicking around, though, including this 2014 example on Autotrader. We’d probably rather one in ‘Moroccan Red’ than the tautologous ‘Nero Black’, but it looks nicely understated in this hue, at least. The same can’t be said for the white RCZ R wearing Rallye-style decals we also spotted. The former is up for £15,985, has a full service history, and has clocked 55,000 miles.