So, Red Nose Day and Peugeot New Zealand: what’s the connection?
Cure Kids of course, the charitable organisation for which Peugeot New Zealand is a key partner.
The limited-edition Peugeot RCZ featured here is not specifically a Red Nose special, although like the big Day it does benefit Cure Kids. For each of these 10 $64,990 RCZs sold, Peugeot will donate 10 percent of the purchase price to the charity. Buyers can even present the money themselves.
You can't miss this particular RCZ, mainly because the changes are exclusively on the surface. It gets 19-inch alloys, matt-black bonnet stripes and a full body kit.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the arrival of similar-price focused sports coupes like the Toyota GT86, Mini coupe and Renault Megane RS265 have made the RCZ seem a bit less special than it was at launch. It is, after all, heavily based on the humble 308 hatchback.
So it's no hard-core sports machine, but the RCZ is an enjoyable machine and while the dashboard is straight out of the 308, the car as a whole succeeds in creating a unique feel. It's partly the styling, partly the fact that you sit low, in the centre of the car – and really, it's still very good to drive. Aside from the weight difference (around 200kg in the coupe's favour), the RCZ is more rigid and has reconfigured suspension.
A little less so in automatic form as tested, because with the six-speed two-pedal transmission fitted, Peugeot only sees fit to give you a 115kW version of the RCZ's 1.6-litre turbo engine. The manual gets the full 147kW. An extra 32kW – or rather, 32kW that's absent – is no small matter.
The fundamentals are right, although some gimmicks might disract the driver and unfairly detract from the RCZ's credibility. The basic profile is beautiful, but the aluminium roof-arch caps are a matter of taste. The rear spoiler, which raises at 85km/h and then even higher at 155km/h, is supposed to be functional but is mainly there as a toy. Why else is there a button in the cabin to manually raise it?
The RCZ's signature 'double bubble' rear window is pretty cool though. It really is formed in a single piece and is completely unique to the little Peugeot.
No need to bring your racing boots, but the Peugeot RCZ remains a striking little coupe and a feel-good proposition on the road. The Cure Kids special-edition version just makes you feel a little better still.