The first really significant modification to my RCZ
Enough of the routine maintenance, let’s get some excitement into this ride. The K&N air filter was a good start, but why not upgrade the RCZ esthetically while also improving the sound note?! I decided to install a FOX dual exhaust for three reasons: It looks great – chrome, classy and bigger than the stock exhaust – hopefully sounds great and it’s road legal in Switzerland. Furthermore, I went all in and also acquired a matching sporty rear diffusor that allows the new right side exhaust to come out.
NOTICE: The installation is quite straightforward. As always, take some time to prepare yourself and don’t rush the whole disassembling an reassembling. The kit was complete. You don’t need to cut or weld anything to the chassis. However, you need to cut the stock exhaust pipe at the exact spot, in order for the new pipe to fit. More tips are given at the end of part 2.
Here’s how it’s done! 🙂
Part 1 – Removing the original exhaust and prefitting the FOX exhaust
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!
Another day, another tutorial! This time we’re removing a taillight of the RCZ. If you want to order it before you read or watch through the process, here are the part numbers. Peugeot part number: YM40701280, Automotive Lighting part number: 2623 0102. Always make sure you’re ordering the correct side, since the left and the right units are symmetric, hence not identical.
In a nutshell, the entire process is quite simple. It can however be confusing when you’ve never done it before. Open up the cover on the side of the trunk and disconnect the cable. There is only one cable coming from the taillight. After that there are two big white nuts to unscrew. The first time I tried to loosen them they were so tightened up that I needed pliers.
Push the taillight out from the inside and twist the entire unit counter clockwise until the burl in the front of the light snaps out of its position. I sounds like something just broke but don’t worry, it’s really just the burl. You may want to cover the left edge of the taillight with some sort of cloth so you don’t scratch it while removing it. However, it’s not necessary if you’re careful.
No just press and pull the rubber plug, pull the cable out and the entire taillight is free. Check out the video for a more comprehensive demonstration:
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.
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.