Peugeot 308 RC Z and hybridsThu, 13 Sep 2007
By Tim Pollard
13 September 2007 02:36
Peugeot 308 RCZ: the lowdown
The Peugeot stand at Frankfurt was a timely reminder just how much the market has fragmented these days. It was packed with 27 cars in rambling hall 8 – five of which were new concept cars, albeit mostly versions of existing production cars. But there was little doubt which was most eye-catching: the 308 coupe concept was an elegant reminder that French design shouldn’t be written off quite yet. The 308 RC Z is a 2+2 show car that is tipped for production within two years, and it looks really good in the metal. Where most body derivatives of mainstream hatchbacks retain a strong family look, the RC Z has a character all of its own, by turns Audi TT profile and Nissan 350Z roofline. It’s quite a looker, surprisingly, and that Zagato-style double-bubble roof is deliciously cool. It’s powered by the BMW-PSA 1.6 petrol, turbocharged to produce 218bhp in this example – a good 40 ponies more than in today’s production cars, while lightweight materials are used to keep bulk in check. Watch out for hotter versions of both the Mini and 207/308 family using this engine in the future.
What’s the biggest trend of recent years, an easy way for manufacturers to create new niche products at minimal outlay? You’ve guessed it – it’s the soft-roader. And Peugeot launched a new one at Frankfurt. It’s an Outdoor version of the 207 SW, a slightly toughened-up version of the French supermini. It’s an inch and a bit higher up for a taller stance and has new alloy wheels, tougher rubbing strips and other minor details for the faux-by-four look. It remains resolutely front-wheel drive, though so housewives shouldn’t veer off the road too far. Knowledgeable types might scoff at cars like the 207 Outdoor – named after last year’s concept car – but they represent an easy win for manufacturers ever eager to broaden the appeal of their bread and butter cars. And they can sell them at a tidy premium; Peugeot reckons it’ll charge around £500 more for the Outdoor when UK sales start in November. The same applies to the 207 SW RC concept, a sportier estate unveiled alongside the Outdoor. This one has a more performance bent and is likely to be badged Sport, thanks to its turbocharged 175bhp 1.6 from the GTI. It gets softer suspension than the hot hatch, though, and less extreme sports seats.
By Tim Pollard