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Two sexy coupes, one ultimate showdown. Who will come out tops in this battle of the turbocharged two-door style icons? We find out.

07 Feb 2012


For a young, single male in the prime of his life, image and ego is often important. Almost every aspect of his life, from his words to his clothes, has to express his personality in order to attract the right kind of attention.

This translates into cars as well. Given the choice (assuming money being no issue), a young man would want his chosen steed to reflect the kind of person he really is, and perhaps, send a signal as to the kind of person he's looking for as well.

A modified Evo or Rex obviously shouts 'Ah Beng', but the more sophisticated lot tends to veer towards coupes as their desired ride. Perhaps it's the sexy shape that two-door cars tend to have. Or maybe it's the sinister signal to girls that the car can allow for just the one extra passenger, and nobody else.

But in modern times, looks and image alone aren't enough. Ability counts too. So coupes that are all show and no go often end up as more of a good-looking embarrassment if anything else.

We have with us two of the hottest-looking coupes currently available on sale, the Peugeot RCZ and the MINI Coupe, but which one will prove to be the most appealing package?

Exterior

There's no denying that both cars here are attractive lookers, and each has their own individual style that sets them apart from the other boxes you see on the street.

The RCZ sits low and hunched, as befits a car of its nature. Its bold styling makes it look like nearly nothing else out there, and details such as the aluminium-look roof arches and unique double-bubble design ensures that it grabs attention wherever it goes.

Sat alongside the RCZ, the MINI Coupe seems traditional by comparison. The front end design is typical MINI, while its own special roof design, likened to a baseball cap worn in reverse by some, is an object that truly divides opinion. But there's no doubt that MINI's latest creation can turn heads as equally as the RCZ, albeit in a different style.

The RCZ probably appeals to the fashion-conscious set, with its sleek French body and low-slung stance. The Coupe meanwhile is a bit more athletic, with masculine details like the black wheel arches and short, stubby tail, which hides the cheeky tail spoiler. The Pug also features a retractable rear spoiler, but it's probably more for aesthetic reasons than anything else.
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Interior

Both cars are strict two-seaters, although the Peugeot has thrown in token rear seats to make it a 2+2. But in truth, those rear seats are not really of any use for the purpose of ferrying humans. The low roofline, as a result of the sloping bubble glass roof, further aggravates matters, making space a premium. Treat the back seats like an extra storage compartment for your loose items and it would probably make more sense.

The MINI wisely dispenses with having any rear seats, and instead features a proper section for items, such as the grocery shopping, or little knick-knacks for that weekend trip. The Coupe makes no bones about its intentions as a car strictly for the driver and his lucky passenger only. No pesky third wheel here allowed.

Compared with their stunning exterior design, both coupes' cabin come across as a tad tame. The MINI Coupe's dashboard is the same as any other MINI, while the RCZ's own is almost exactly similar to the less-attractive 308CC. There are a few minor touches here and there to add a bit of flair, like the customisable chrome bits in the MINI, and the classy analogue clock in the RCZ, but overall, they are nothing much to shout about.
For cars which were designed with sporty pretensions in mind, both the MINI Coupe and Peugeot RCZ are surprisingly practical. The Coupe's tailgate opens up to reveal a reasonably practical boot, with a useful 280 litres of capacity, and a slot that opens up to allow long items to poke through the cabin. The RCZ fares even better, with a more conventional shaped boot that allows for 390 litres in load carrying ability. The rear seats also can be folded down to expand the cargo area further, turning the RCZ into a rather amazing-looking van.

The Drive

Under the bonnet, both cars actually share the same engine, the ubiquitous Prince powerplant that sees application in various BMW, MINI, Peugeot and Citroen products.

The MINI though, in Cooper S form, has the slight edge in performance, churning out 184bhp from the 1.6-litre turbocharged unit. The result is a perky little car that feels ever so eager to blast from point to point.
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That's not to say that the RCZ is slow. While it is down on power from the Coupe, producing just 156bhp from the same 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, the car is able to keep up well for the most part, with most of the power coming through at the top end. There is a slight lag upon acceleration, but once the turbo spools in, the RCZ becomes a smooth cruiser, capable of tackling long distances in style and grace.

The MINI delivers its performance in a different way however, with the car feeling more like an excitable little puppy, always ready and willing to point and go in whatever direction the driver orders it to. Its steering is a delight with its directness, communicating exactly what the car is doing on the road.

The RCZ though, is more muted. While it mostly handles well, feeling fairly nimble and controlled in the bends, it doesn't have the same excitement as the MINI. Its steering is slightly heavier, and there is the sense that the RCZ has been tuned more for comfort than outright agility.

And comfort is where the Peugeot shines, with its well-damped ride soaking up road undulations excellently. It feels a tad unsettled over extremely hard bumps, but it still outshines the MINI, whose suspension does feel a bit more performance-biased.
Conclusion

While both the MINI Coupe and Peugeot RCZ are stylish and chic two-door cars with similar 1.6-litre turbocharged engines, their driving characters could not be more different.

The Coupe continues the MINI tradition of outright fun drivability, with its superb driving dynamics never failing to elicit a smile on the driver's face each and every time he hits a winding piece of road.

The RCZ, meanwhile, packs a supremely refined package into a jaw-droppingly beautiful body. And in terms of looks alone, the Pug has the MINI beaten for sexiness.

Choosing which one is a matter of style or substance. For the driving enthusiast, the MINI Coupe is definitely the one to go for. The RCZ though is the ideal style icon for a night out on the town. But either car is unlikely to disappoint for the modern male looking for a good-looking two-door chick magnet.

Facelift articles

Styling exercise for sleek Pug

06 Jan 2014

The Peugeot RCZ receives a light cosmetic upgrade but could do with an updated interior and performance too.
Read more

Car Information

This model is no longer being sold by local distributors

Price

: -

Engine Type

:

4-cylinders 16-valves DOHC Twin-Scroll Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1598cc

Horsepower

:

116kW (156 bhp) / 6000 rpm

Torque

:

240 Nm / 4000 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A) Tiptronic

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

9sec

Top Speed

:

212km/h

Fuel consumption

:

13.6 km/L

This model is no longer being sold by local distributors
MINI Cooper S Coupe 1.6 (A)
Rate it

Price

: -

Engine Type

:

4-cylinders in-line 16-valves Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1598cc

Horsepower

:

137kW (184 bhp) / 5500 rpm

Torque

:

240 Nm / 5000 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

7.1sec

Top Speed

:

224km/h

Fuel consumption

:

14.9 km/L

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