So you’re one of those people who service and tune up your car yourself, right? But what about all the electronic little messages that come up periodically and want to remind you to look after your car? Of course, YOU wouldn’t need that because YOU keep track of your car’s maintenance history, right? Well guess what, you still need to tell you car when you changed the oil. My RCZ‘s onboard computer wants me to service my car every 30’000 km. It shows so buy putting up a little wrench next to the odometer, as well as in the central display between the rpm gauge and the speedometer.
Lucky you, you drive a Peugeot and hence don’t need any diagnostic computer to reset the service warning message!
Okay, once you are done with the oil change, what the next thing to look after while servicing your RCZ? The spark plugs, of course! They have to be replaced every 30’000 km. I replaced the original NGK with the equivalent from Bosch (Ref.: 0 242 135 518). Not that I wasn’t satisfied with NGK or that I hoped that the Bosch ones would miraculously increase the engine’s performance, I just wanted to try something else from a well known brand – as long as it was compatible, of course. 🙂
Anyway, (1) pop the hood, (2) release the ignition coil, (2) pull it out, (3) unbold and remove the old spark plug, (4) insert a new one and proceed in the opposite order for the rest. Now repeat this for the remaining three spark plugs.
NOTICE: If you need an extension for your 14 mm spark plug socket, make sure all of the elements of the wrench are taped together, as the spark plugs might be a bit stuck even when unbolt. Fishing out the socket can be quite tedious, trust me…! 😉 It’s a simple solution to a really annoying problem.
Doing an oil change on an internal combustion engine is probably the most commonly known and most frequently conducted service element in all car maintenance history. So guess what, even my RCZ needs it every 30’000 km or every two years. The procedure is quite simple: (1) Open up the oil cap on top of the engine block, (2) unscrew the drain plug and let the old oil flow out into an appropriate catch pan. (3) Put a new crush washer on the drain plug and screw it back on. (4) Now replace the oil filter before (5) filling in 4.25l of fresh synthetic SAE 5W30 engine oil.
NOTICE: Safety first, environment second! Make sure the car is safely positioned on a car lift or on ramps when you are working underneath a car, especially when your are applying force to unbolt / bolt parts! The engine, exhaust and the oil might be hot if you warmed the car up just before, hence protect your hands, skin in general and your eyes accordingly. Always dispose of used oil properly – bring it to your local waste disposal service station.
Changing an ai cabin filter doesn’t seem to be a big deal at first glance. After all, the filter itself is basically just a dry piece of foam. Getting to the air cabin filter compartment is a different story. On my 2012 Peugeot RCZ it’s basically a three-step process: (1) Remove the plastic admission tube that is connected to the cabin air filter housing, (2) unclip and pull out the insulating mat just behind the admission tube and finally, (3) open up the cover and pull out the used air cabin filter. Now simply replace it with a new filter and proceed in the reverse order.
NOTICE: As always with car plastics, be patient and careful not to handle them roughly as they can easily crack. I like to quote Amesie from Amesie’s Automotive Corner, “those plastic parts are as supple as uncooked pasta”. 🙂
Let’s give this car some clean air
Now that the cabin has clean air, let’s turn our attention to the engine. This filter is located behind the engine. You can directly access it by unbolting the cover, the air intake hose, as well as unclip the electronic sensor that is connected to it.
NOTICE: As always when you take any bolts out in and around the engine block, make sur to store them safely and not let them fall into the engine bay. You never know whether they will be stuck or lost somewhere in there. 😉
This time it’s time to change the tires of my RCZ. The summer tires are 19″ Continental Sport Contact 3 tires, which I am replacing with Continental Sport Contact 5. The old tires have lasted for about 60’000 km, which is pretty good, considering that they are sports tires and thus supposed to not only last but also be super sticky. 🙂
Anyway, when you look at the tread of the tires, you’ll see that they have almost come down to the tread wear indicators. These are at 1.6 mm, the legal minimum in Switzerland and many other countries as well. So, time go to the tire shop and have them all replaced with some new rubber! Yes, all four of them are down!!
If you can’t spot a tread wear indicator, one good tool to measure it is a one euro coin. The outer gold ring is exactly 1.6 mm. If you compare the old and the new tire you will instantly realize that the change was due!
After the successful implementation of the “Back in the Race” recovery plan by the end of 2015, which was launched in April 2014 and set to be completed in 2018, PSA Peugeot Citroën (who by the way recently changed their official name to Groupe PSA) released its new strategy plan “Push to Pass” on April 5th 2016. Now that the company is in solid financial and structural shape, it’s time to set the goals to the next step.
So what is this next strategic plan all about? Basically, PSA want to be ready for the so called automobile revolution, that has already started and will probably go on for the coming decade. In short, PSA has realized that they have to focus on their customers, more so than on the cars themselves – from VIN number to the person. In this day and age where everything is getting digital and connected, the companies that will be successful tomorrow are the ones that have access to customer information and know how to get the most out of them. Anyone heard of Big Data before? Obviously, PSA will continue building cars as their core business, but it sees its future as a mobility services provider, more so than just a car manufacturer.
Once again, the focus will shift from ‘just’ building and selling cars through their traditional dealership network, to a customer centered approach. By that PSA means using the the data provided by the customers through whatever connected device they are using. Hence, experience, rather than ownership will be important in the future. Providing mobility services due to their digital transformation.
What exactly does digital transformation mean? It means that most aspects of our life are being integrated into the internet of things: Every object and even living being will soon be connected to the internet in order to make their application more user-friendly and customer tailored. Houses (lighting, heating, access, oven,…), cars, watches, glasses, lawn mower, your dogs localization and even your puls monitor and many more things will be connected to the cloud where many people already have their agenda, photos, videos and social media accounts.
Let me give you an example: You go to bed in the evening and set your alarm clock on your smartphone for the following day. The smartphone picks up the traffic news in the morning, knows that the commute to work will be longer due to a traffic jam. It automatically sets the alarm clock earlier for you to have enough time to get ready and get to work on time. Coffee machine and toaster prepare breakfast as you switch off your shower. Your autonomous car will pick you up at the entrance door and drive you to work while you can prepare your meetings.
Granted, this is just an example of what it could look like and who knows when exactly that will be accessible to the broad majority of people. However, it shows that automobile corporations, such as PSA see where the trend is going and how the generations Y and Z will want to live. So far I haven’t said anything about the privacy issues and hacking risks that this technological evolution will bring, but that’s another subject.
Back to PSA
Anyway, let’s focus on PSA. Carlos Tavares, Chairman of the Managing Board, seems to have set his people in the right direction. Let’s take a more in-depth look at their plan and look at the five core transformation elements.
By 2021, PSA wants to be transformed into the mobility provider it has now set its strategy for:
From product to customer: Shifting the view from only building cars to the customer and it’s mobility needs.
From ownership to experience: Being a PSA customer doesn’t necessarily restrain it to car owners alone.
From car to mobility: People want the right mobility for any given time, which can mean renting a car, traffic infos, or even having access to carsharing models like Uber or Lyft.
From one business to a portfolio of businesses: In conclusion, putting the customer in the center of attention suddenly opens the door to a variety of businesses connected to mobility that include life facilitating apps and information.
Can PSA make it?
Whereas these new business models would have been unthinkable ten to fifteen years ago, it is now absolutely necessary for the car companies to diversify their activities within the digital and connected world if they want to survive. Technology companies like Alphabet (Google), Apple and Tesla are likely to become serious competitors in the future, as those elements will become the center of development.
But can PSA really make it? Four years ago the corporation was as good as bankrupt. Furthermore, Volkswagen and other major established manufacturers are not sleeping, either. On a contrary, albeit the problems VW is struggling with due to their so called Dieselgate affair, they are likely to be far ahead on that subject. However, as Carlos Tavares pointed it out several times, he doesn’t believe that size is the only way to succeed as an automotive OEM, you need to be profitable and flexible. I believe that they can make it and that this new, customer focused strategy is the only thing PSA has been missing during its entire lifetime. The products have been very good for most of the time, they just had a very bad customer relationship management and didn’t really listen to them.
Peugeot is being serious about continuing and improving their sports models. After the 208 GTI, it’s time for the 308 GTI to put its wheels (19”) on the tarmac. Since the launch of the second generation 308 in September 2013, Peugeot has developed an entire 308 family, as well as improved it every year: three cylinder PureTech gasoline engines, new BlueHDI diesel engines, as well as a new six speed automatic transmission.
Until the beginning of this year, the range topping and most sporty 308 was the GT version with the 1.6l THP gasoline engine with 205 hp. This year, Peugeot has finally done to the 308 what they did to the little brother two years ago: a GTI version which gets the same 1.6l engine block, with the small difference that it now delivers 270 hp (identical to the one in the RCZ R). That sounds like music to my ears!
On 17 March 2015, Peugeot announced its brand mission as follows: “Peugeot is focusing all of its energy and resources into creating innovative mobility solutions, not only for today but for tomorrow, built around one core philosophy: the search for emotion.” Obviously, just seeing the car at an auto show doesn’t allow me to verify whether it actually delivers the emotions Peugeot wants me to feel. Nevertheless, I can still see it, touch it, feel it and know what makes it going like a proper lion!
Let’s start with the outside, shall we! There are GTI badges on the front fenders and in the back, bigger air intakes in the front and the Peugeot Lion logo is integrated in the front grill rather than having it on the hood, a design feature Peugeot introduced with the GT version in order to differentiate the sportier versions from the more mundane editions. Besides, the grill has a bespoke checkered flag design which refers to the sporting ambitions of the car.
Under the doors we notice the side flaps, which gives it a muscular stance. 19” wheels come standard, behind which boast red brake calipers with 4 pistons, ready to slow down 380 mm discs in the front, as well as 268 mm ones in the back. The suspension has been fine tuned to match the GTI’s power and brake performances. In the back we find a diffuser and a pair of pretty big exhaust pipes, similar to those on the RCZ R. But it doesn’t stop there. In addition to the sports wheels and chassis comes the Torsen differential that makes sure all of the 270 horses find their way from the stables to the road! Excellent!
Inside, it’s a spiced up version of the already really elegant and upmarket 308 GT. On the menu, we find bucket seats made out of leather, cloth and alcantara. Notice that the headrests’ shape are designed to look like they are fully integrated into the seat, but you can actually lift them up in order to adapt them to your height. In order to further distinguish the GTI from the other 308 versions, the stitches on the dashboard and around the cabin are accented in red, the steering wheel gets a GTI badge on the bottom and a red mark at the twelve o’clock position, “PEUGEOT Sport” and “GTI” lettering on the door sill panels, as well as an aluminum gear knob, pedals and foot rest.
The RCZ’ last hurrah
Road test reviews have praised the 308 GTI’s for its built quality, practicality and last but not least, sporting credentials. With that established, the 308 family appears to offer the full range from frugal and functional to the full on Nürburgring lap time chaser. However, being a big fan of the RCZ, I was pretty disappointed when Peugeot communicated that they were abandoning their plans to build a second generation, due to their restructuring plans and strategy called “Back in the Race”. Since the outgoing model was based on the previous generation 308, I can only imagine what a performance car a new RCZ generation would have been. Nonetheless, I’d still like to see what this 308 GTI could look like with a coupe silhouette…
Given the fact that the RCZ’s production has stopped in September, RCZ aficionados will have to make due with the couple of remaining new 200 THP GT Line and RCZ R standing in the showrooms or simply get a used one. At the 2015 Zurich Auto Show, Peugeot presented a special “Swiss Racing” version of the RCZ R. Technically identical to a standard RCZ R, the already leather wrapped interior as standard now features many elements covered in dark grey and red alcantara, such as the inner part of the door panels, the parking brake and the steering wheel. The arm rest cover is still leather but features a special insert marking the number of the limited edition, as well as the full vehicle identification number (VIN) of the car.
I know DS is probably not yet the most exiting car brand, but ever since PSA decided to make DS a standalone premium brand in June 2014, I have been following their development with great interest. The facelifted DS 4 gets the so called “DS Wings” front grill, with 84 LED lights. Also, the whole car has been lowered by 30 mm. The full leather interior actually looks and feels quite upmarket. The new 7 inch touch screen is alright. Many reviews have criticized it for having a very slow response time. It’s certainly not on a par with the best touch screens on the market but it’s quite good.
The DS 4 is the first car of the PSA Corporation to introduce Apple CarPlay. Hence, it projects the iPhone’s icons to the touchscreen of the car. The amount of buttons on the center console has also been reduced from 18 to 6. The built quality feels pretty upmarket. Changing gears while standing feels pretty precise and there is little play when in gear.
As far as the DS 4 Crossback is concerned, its height has been raised by 10 mm compared to the previous Citroën labelled version, transforming it into an SUV. The Crossback comes with wheel arch moldings and some roof bars. Inside, it’s technically identical to the standard DS 4. However, without the full leather interior, it looks well put together but not premium anymore. The fact that the DS 4 shares the dashboard with the Citroën C4 doesn’t help. The main issue with the DS 4 & DS 4 Crossback remains the pointy rear door with the fixed windows. In all fairness, I didn’t expect them to do structural changes on a facelift.
The revised DS 5 has been on the market for about half a year now and it has been given kind of the same treatment: “DS Wings” front grill, LED lights, touch screen, fewer buttons on the center console, revised suspensions and a new 6 speed gearbox.
Although all of the DS 4 & DS 5 models have now changed the Citroën chevron logos with the DS signature, the cars are technically still running under the Citroën brand. That will probably change with the brand’s new model generation starting in 2017. Although the manufacturer can’t yet compete with the technically much more advanced and very customer oriented German rivals, such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, DS is clearly taking small steps in that direction. Until the end of this decade, DS plans on having a worldwide uniform model range of six models. Now that Jaguar are back on track and tackling the German establishment, we just might see a French contender in about five years’ time.
The RCZ started its life as one of many beautiful concept cars of Peugeot at the 2007 International Motor Show Germany – the IAA (Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung). Most of those concept cars never make it into production, but this one got such a good feedback and looked already production ready. So Peugeot made the brave decision and put it into production.
Anyway, the moment I saw this car on the internet I wanted it. Growing up in a family that had always had at least one Peugeot at a time (505, 406, 406 coupé, 307 SW) I always had somewhat of an emotional connection with the brand, but most of them were more appealing to the sensible driver rather to the passionate gearhead / petrolhead.
Then, two years later, Peugeot presented the production version of the RCZ. They dropped the “308” in order not to have people remind it of the the more functional model it is technically based on, making it the first Peugeot road car to have a model type name consisting of letters, rather than the typical three digits with the “0” in the middle.
The real deal
After the presentation of the road going version in the fall of 2009, production started in 2010 at the Magna Steyr plant in Graz, Austria. I knew that one day I would have to own one. Little did I know that that day would already come by the end of 2012. Yes, I’m fortunate enought to call the nacre white one you see on the left my own. By the way, you might already have noticed that I used this car as the official MotorScotti logo. 🙂
This one is the 200 hp (147kW) version. I’ve had it since November 2012 and I’m absolutely delighted! Being the GT version it comes with the improved suspension and smaller steering wheel compared to the base 156 hp model.
The main reason why I wanted the RCZ is obvious: the look. I could spend hours just looking at it!! The double bubble glass roof and the two aluminum side rails are without a doubt the trade marks of this car, that add to the overall curvaceous and nicely balanced proportions.
The 19” Solstice wheels, the full leather interior (although I believe this one’s dashboard is not covered in real leather) and all of the equipment; electric and three way heated driver & passenger seats, bluetooth connectivity, front and rear parking sensors, automatically dimming interior mirror, xenon directional headlamps, hill assist etc.
A part from the equipment, the inside is just as nice to look at as the exterior – just look for yourself.
Okay, the dashboard looks very similar to the one of the 308. However, it’s not the same. It differs from the 308’s in the back and instead of having three central vents, the middle one is replaced with a very classy analog clock.
My car is pretty much stock. The only thing I changed was the gear lever. The original fake leather was not bad, but this optional full aluminum one looks so much more premium and sportier and makes the whole driving experience even more engaging. Being metal, it heats up quickly in the summer, so just be aware of it as you park the car in the sun for a couple of hours.
I’ve read and watched many reviews on this car and to it’s main competitor; the second generation Audi TT. In most cases, the Audi won, but were they (1) really comparable and (2) really objective about what the journalists said? I don’t care, I love the RCZ for its style, performance, ride and build quality. Yes, it everything inside is well put together and solid.
The only thing that is left for me to improve the style are the center elements of the door trim. On this pre-facelift models, it’s simply plastic, despite all the parts around it are wrapped in leather. The facelifted model has this part covered in stitched leather…Peugeot could have done that right away, don’t you agree? My plan is to have that wrapped in leather, too. So stay tuned. ;-).
Furthermore, this car is surprisingly practical. The trunk space is huge (321 l). You can even fold down the rear seats and have even more space (639 l). Obvisously, this car wasn’t build to compete with Peterbilt and Freightliner. However, I like to cool it the station wagon of the coupés.
Anyway, the important thing is to look at the entire package. The ride is a little jittery in town, but excellent everywhere else. The chassis keeps the car nicely on track with just very little understeer, the sports seats also hold you firmly in place. I did four laps of the infamous Nürburgring Nordschleife this April. Obvisously, I’m far from being an amateur race driver. But still, this car sticks to the road like glue. Finally, dressed up in that silhouette, this car is already a collector car. This is accentuated by the fact that it went out of production on 18 September this year. Peugeot say they won’t replace it anytime soon. But you know what? It doesn’t need to – although it starts to show its age in terms of connectivity and other infotainment gadgets, this car is at least as desirable today as it was the day it was first presented to the public.