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Spy shot Peugeot 308 RC-Z

The Peugeot 308 RC-Z bears a striking resemblance to the previous-generation Audi TT, particularly at the rear. But the French car-maker is pressing on with plans to introduce the sexy 2+2 next year.

Our spy pictures of this black prototype caught by Carparazzi in southern Europe reveal an almost production-ready sportscar.

Peugeot lifted the wraps of the 308 RC-Z Concept to an enthusiastic audience at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show.

The production RCZ is almost identical to the concept, with the sloping roof line and kink in the shoulderline behind the doors. From the front the car borrows heavily from the existing 308 hatch, with the wide-opening grille and feline-like headlights that reach back along the car's flanks. At the back the RC-Z gets a centrally mounted exhaust and rear diffuser.

When it does go on sale, the smart coupe is tipped to line up against a wide range of rivals as diverse as the Mercedes-Benz SLK, Audi TT, Mini Cooper S and Alfa Romeo GT coupe.

However, pricing is expected to be significantly under these cars.

The RC-Z is expected to hit showrooms with the same engines as higher-level 308 models.

A range-topping turbo 186kW four-cylinder expected from the same stable that builds the John Cooper Works Minis is also likely. Peugeot's 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre turbo diesels will also be part of the model mix.

Inside the RC-Z's cabin will mimic the 308CC, with a high-quality leather interior, sports seats and 2+2 seating.

The PSA Group, which consists of Peugeot and Citroen, is realigning itself with Citroen going up-market and Peugeot chasing the performance tag.

Citroen's DS-line clearly shows its new direction but Peugeot is expected to continue to refine its sports line-up with cars like the RC-Z and continue its involvement with the Le Mans 24 hour race.

The 308 RC-Z is tipped to be part of Peugeot's Frankfurt Motor Show arsenal in September, along with the face-lifted 207 range.