The Peugeot RCZ coupe is aimed at professionals who want a sporty drive for less than the price of an Audi. Motoring journalist Tim Barnes-Clay puts it to the test.
"GT" stems from the Italian phrase gran turismo, which pays homage to the custom of the grand tour.
In other words the GT badge is meant to represent cars that can make fast, long-distance journeys in both comfort and style.
I'm not sure the Peugeot RCZ GT is my idea of a grand tourer.
My image of a GT is an Aston Martin Vantage or a Maserati GranTurismo.
A GT for those on a budget
But, in its favour, the Pug is a microscopic proportion of the cost of these cars.
It also has the traditional GT coupe two-door, two in the front, two in the back seating arrangement.
Grand tourers differ from typical two-seater sports cars in a few ways.
They are usually engineered bigger, and emphasis is often put on luxury rather than unadulterated performance.
A grand tourer with a diesel engine
The Peugeot RCZ HDi has some of these points but the diesel engine is the irregularity... or is it?
Porsche unveiled its big GT - the Panamera Diesel - in 2011 and, predictably, it's the most economical Porsche in the entire vehicle range.
So even though an oil-burner never seems right in a GT, it does actually make sense if you're planning lots of miles.
This is where the head starts ruling the heart rather than the other way around.
With that in mind, the Peugeot begins to look like quite a good compromise.
Peugeot RCZ GT HDi 163: Spec
For a start, it's a looker, especially after its January 2013 face-lift.
It also drives well. The low body and stiff suspension mean it hunkers down through the bends and it will hit 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds, spinning up to 137mph on the straights.
Okay, the rigidity of the car does make travelling over pothole-ridden roads a teeth rattling experience, but contentment is assured for the most part.
On top of this, the motor returns more than 50mpg. That's what you need if frequently filling up at the pumps isn't your idea of a fun European road trip.
The potent Peugeot costs £25,830 if you're determined to buy new.
For your money you get beefy 19-inch alloy wheels and an interior sports kit, complete with a flat-bottomed steering wheel and eye-catching leather seats.
The manual six speed gearshift action is precise but the steering column, although adjustable for reach and rake, protrudes too much for my liking.
Back seat for 'vertically-challenged' only
The cabin of the Peugeot RCZ HDi is a pleasant place to be for you and your front seat travelling companion.
However, as with all 2+2s, you're only going to get the very vertically-challenged or, more likely, a pair of toddlers in the rear seats.
The boot is a different story.
It is gigantic and substantial enough to take two suitcases and a golf bag - another reason to go for the French car if motoring holidays are your thing.
Petrol versions of Peugeot RCZ available
If diesel-power still doesn't float your boat but the rest of the racy RCZ package does, then there are a couple of petrol versions available – a 1.6 in 154bhp and 197bhp states of tune.
But if I were you, and if you really are a petrol-only purist, it's worth waiting for Peugeot's most rampant version yet – the 260bhp RCZ R.
It's due to be launched towards the end of 2013 and promises to deliver thrills and spills like no Pug coupe has done before.
Peugeot RCZ GT HDi 163: Pros & cons
- Looks √
- Performance √
- Economy √
- Boot √
- Steering column X
Peugeot RCZ GT HDi 163: Fast facts
- Max speed: 137 mph
- 0-62 mph: 8.7 secs
- Combined mpg: 53.2
- Engine: 1997 cc 16 valve 4 cylinder turbo diesel
- Max. power (bhp): 163 at 4000 rpm
- Max. torque (lb/ft): 236 at 2000 rpm
- CO2: 139 g/km
- Price: £25,830 on the road
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