Peugeot RCZ R 2014 review: road test
Joshua Dowling road tests and reviews the 2014 Peugeot RCZ R, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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The arrival of a new TT is a big deal. The first TT, launched in 1996, suddenly made Audi cool, thanks to its breathtaking minimalist design.
Before then, Audi was known for being technically advanced but its cars never looked exciting. Now there's a full suite of tempting machines such as the mega R8 supercar and the RS5 and RS7 coupes for style- conscious buyers.
The front is restyled and most of the roundness gives way to hard edges and sharp lines.
The second generation in 2006 wasn't as "out there" in design terms but looked good and sold strongly. Now the third generation, launched here after last year's Geneva show preview, looks ... a lot like the outgoing model.
It is so similar from the side and rear that you wonder what the designers were doing all this time. The front is restyled and most of the roundness gives way to hard edges and sharp lines.
The TT has a lot of presence on the road, especially Australia's island of awesome roads — Tasmania. We start from Launceston and head down the east coast on quite curvaceous blacktop. On such country driving, the TT is in its element, covering long stretches in comfort and employing the fun factor on the twisty bits.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, common to many Volkswagen Group vehicles, has decent outputs (169kW/370Nm). Australian buyers can pick a front-drive model with manual or six-speed dual clutch automatic or all-wheel drive with the automatic. The AWD auto is the swiftest, doing 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds using launch control, yet it doesn't feel all that quick out on the road. Its performance is best described as warm rather than hot.
The familiar four-cylinder exhaust note sweetens as the revs rise and there's a gratifying "thrump" accompanying each gear-change. It sounds a little sporty but not loud, leaving room for the TT S, which is due about the middle of the year.
Starting price for the manual is $71,950. The $74,950 automatic version will be a lovely car for customers more concerned about design than performance. The front-driver may disappoint those who want to push a little harder, given the torque steer and the struggle to get power down on slippery roads.
The AWD, at $77,950, is the best bet. It not only accelerates faster but also feels far better planted when firing out of corners. It can run as a front-driver to save fuel on the highway and switches up to 60 per cent of power We have plenty of time to test the TT's cornering on the wonderful ribbons of tarmac that run along to Swansea on the coast.
The variable ratio electric steering feels a little vague and takes some getting used to. It is difficult to tell how much to turn the wheel to get the TT where you want it and is no match for, say, the solid steering of a BMW 2 Series coupe. It is still fun, but there is room for improvement.
In contrast to the minimal exterior tweaks, the interior changes are dramatic. It's an entirely practical cabin that looks stunning. The centrepiece is the new Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster. This replaces the conventional cluster of dials and gauges with a large digital screen that can be customised to show a huge satnav map, large or small versions of the speedo and tacho or information about the car.
There is no reversing camera — it will be added later this year. The cabin surfaces are high quality and the sporty bucket seats really hold you in. That said, the two rear seats are for small children only and the boot is still small. We cover the Freycinet Peninsula and head for Hobart, soaking up the last of the winding roads, which soon turn into a multi-lane highway.
At our destination, we switch off the engine, open the doors — and suddenly a rapid "bump-bump" fills the cabin. It's the fast-heartbeat soundtrack from Audi's TV ads, piped through the speakers when you alight.
Cool new interior makes up for minimal exterior changes. The TT is still good-looking and fun without being super fast. A slick interior compensates for the Audi coupe's minor frontal tweak — but it's still a fun drive.
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