Monday, December 13, 2010

Don't Mention The War

On test… Peugeot RCZ
as appeared in the Kulula in-flight mag in Dec 2010

As international rivalries go, France and Germany’s is pretty sizey. Napoleon, you’ll remember, invaded Germany… and Otto von Bismarck returned the favour by inviting his okes to holiday in France during 1914. Provence being such a lovely place, the Germans promptly booked another all-expenses-paid package again for WWII.

These days, with full-scale invasions somewhat frowned upon, the battle has developed a more automotive flavour.Germany built the Audi TT… and in response, France has come up with the Peugeot RCZ. So much does this new Peugeot’s silhouette remind one of the TT that any denial is pretty much pointless. Publicly the French might say “What! Non!! What iz zis… ‘Owdi Titty of which you speak?”. But behind the scenes they’re leaning over the parapets, rifles aimed at the iconic Teutonic (da da dish) coupe.

So how does the challenger stack up? What is the calibre of its bullet? Does it have the firepower to take out the urbane German? Oui and nein would be the best answer. True to national characteristics, the RCZ is a sexy little thing. That double bubble roof should come with a thong and a set of garters, and the twin aluminum roofline pillars complete what really is a pretty 2+2 coupe.

Under the bonnet your get a choice of two engines. Well actually the same engine – a 1.6 turbo – but the one has the boost turned up to 11. The 115kW comes with an auto box and 18-inch alloys, while the 147kW gets bigger 19-inch shoes and a 6-speed manual. However even the grand formage RCZ lacks a little compared to the TT’s 2.0 turbo and its 155kW. Handling-wise the RCZ is pretty damn impressive with a stiff suspension set up dismissing any hint of body roll, yet still supple enough to make for a comfortable driving experience. Perhaps not as sharp as the German’s and its quattro system… but close.

Where the Peugeot does trump the Audi though, is both in the wallet and in the bootie… so to speak. The manual RCZ goes for R376 335, that’s just over R47k cheaper than the baseline TT. Plus the Frenchie comes standard with lux stuff like leather seats, dual-zone aircon, cruise control, a USB port, and an MP3-playing stereo. And for its party piece, pop the hatchback and you’ll discover a golf bag-devouring 384cm3 compared to the TT’s 292cm3.

So, ja, the RCZ is a the beautiful mademoiselle with the lovely bum, and the TT the square jawed blonde oke in the Hugo Boss suite. The Audi is definitely a more sophisticated car than the RCZ, but the Peugeot plays a very strong money card. All in all, an entertaining battle… needs more guns and tanks obviously, but entertaining none-the-less.