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Peugeot RCZ elegance matching performance

 It is utterly curvaceous – right down to the brain-bending compound curves in the rear glass.  It’s designed, clearly, to take an elegant swipe at cars like the Audi TT.

The RCZ is also the first Peugeot in the company’s history to drop the trademark numerical naming convention.  If it looks strangely familiar, you’re probably remembering the 308 RC Z concept car, which debuted on the global car show scene three years back.

This production version, which is destined for Australian delivery from October this year, is amazingly similar to the concept car – something not all that many designs can claim.

The RCZ is starkly different to the other cars in the French manufacturer’s lineup. It’s a 2+2 (four-seater) coupe with rear headspace enhanced and preserved thanks to the intricate Batmobile-like rearward roof curves, which continue into the rear glass.

There is some commonality between the RCZ and other Peugeots, however.  This car shares the same platform as the more conventional 308, but it sits 20mm lower and has a significantly wider track (54mm at the front and 72mm at the rear).

There’s a choice of petrol or diesel power. The petrol option is a 1.6-litre turbocharged four with 147kW and 275Nm (the same engine as in the Mini Cooper John Cooper Works) mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed tiptronic auto. The diesel is a 2.0-litre unit with 120kW and 340Nm, mated to a six-speed manual only, and capable of achieving an official fuel figure of just 5.4 litres per 100km.

Another neat trick from the RCZ: there is an adjustable active rear spoiler, which deploys in one of two positions depending on travel speed. The first angle of attack is 19 degrees, which occurs at 85km/h (with retraction at 55km/h to help reduce drag when downforce isn’t required), while the second, which is unlikely to be of much use in Australia, is 34 degrees.

The rear wing deploys to this angle at 155km/h and returns to 19 degrees when speeds drop below 145km/h.  All RCZs – the petrol manual and auto, and the diesel manual – are offered at the one list price of $54,990.