The RCZ R is nothing less than the most powerful, performance-focused road car in Peugeot’s history. Peugeot Sport, the firm’s in-house motorsport department, got the job of revealing the RCZ’s Mr Hyde. And with recent successes in international rallying, LMP1-class sportscar racing and at Pikes Peak, Peugeot Sport wasn’t likely to do a tame job.

Even so, the attention to detail will surprise you. Performance derivatives pretty commonly get wider wheels and axle tracks, shortened springs and bigger brakes, but not many get special wheel geometry, special Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres, relocated and uprated dampers and anti-roll bars, reduced unsprung masses and a proper torque-sensing mechanical limited-slip differential. That’s a pretty trick mechanical spec for your princely £32,000.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The RCZ R's suspension is both uprated and lowered

Even after all those changes, the RCZ R weighs 17kg less than the RCZ THP 200 – says Peugeot. While that may be true, MIRA’s scales said our test car was 15kg heavier than the THP 156 we tested in 2010. Still, 1355kg makes for a better power-to-weight ratio here than in the 2.7-litre Porsche Cayman we figured last year.

External styling tweaks are fairly understated – perhaps Peugeot felt they had to be on such a feminine-looking coupé – but they just about distinguish the car. The RCZ’s characteristic silvered roof pillars turn matt black, while a fixed boot spoiler is the main visual signifier of speed. How much speed, exactly? According to Peugeot, 60mph from rest in less than 6.0sec and a standing kilometre in 25.4sec.

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The RCZ’s gear ratios have been tweaked in order to deliver those figures, and its engine has been through myriad mechanical changes. Peugeot Sport’s overhaul for the 1598cc four-pot in the RCZ R promptly knocks Mini’s effort for the same engine in the JCW GP into a cocked hat.

Producing 267bhp at 6000rpm, the RCZ R lump runs at 167bhp per litre – within 10 percent of the work rate that Mercedes achieved for its headline-grabbing A45 AMG. Peak torque, at 243lb ft, is about 10 percent down on what you’d expect from a 2.0-litre turbo, but it’s available from 1900rpm to 5500rpm.

The powerplant, codenamed ‘EP6CDTR’, uses new forged aluminium pistons developed by Mahle Motorsport, as well as new conrods and new big end shells. The operating temperatures imposed by the special twin-scroll turbo are handled by a special heat treatment for the engine block and a new steel exhaust manifold derived from circuit racing.

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