There’s no doubting the financial basis on which the Peugeot RCZ makes sense. Indeed, if you’re looking for the coupé that’s the cheapest to buy and run here, it’s the one to have. Throw in the smooth, peppy engine, attractive dashboard and that nimble, well-controlled chassis and it’s easy to see the appeal.
The problem is, the RCZ has too many flaws to fully recommend it. For starters, there’s that suspension: to attain the level of agility on offer, Peugeot has had to stiffen it up to such an extent that the RCZ verges on the uncomfortable over all but the smoothest of roads, and the steering wheel writhes in your hands if you hit a mid-corner bump. Those rear seats are pretty useless, too.
What about the Volkswagen Scirocco, then? Well, it’s certainly a better bet than the Peugeot RCZ. For one thing, you can actually fit people into its rear seats with reasonable comfort; for another, it rides far more comfortably, while still delivering exciting handling, not to mention thrilling performance.
As good as it is, though, it can’t quite match the Mini for outright thrills, and it doesn’t come cheap, either – not only is the Scirocco the most expensive car here to buy, but also to fuel, service and tax, too. That said, if you’re prepared to pay the premium, it does make a very convincing all-rounder – and if those extra rear seats are a must-have, the Volkswagen is the obvious choice.
If not, though, the Mini Coupé has the edge over the Scirocco. True, you can’t carry as many people in it, but you do at least you get a usefully sized boot.
Besides, let’s face it: these cars are about having fun, and the Mini delivers that in spades. Not only is it fabulously fast, but its scalpel-sharp handling makes it an absolute hoot to buzz along down a back road, without the unpleasant ride quality payoff of the Peugeot. And while it’s not the cheapest thing in the world to buy, it isn’t bad value either, and it shouldn’t cost you too much to run. Throw in its bluff looks, and it’s clearly the most desirable used coupé of the bunch.
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1st – Mini Coupé
For Sensational performance and handling; comfortable ride
Against Strictly a two-seater; limited visibility
Verdict Few cars of this age deliver more fun for your money
2nd – Volkswagen Scirocco
For Comfortable, roomy interior; vibrant performance; good discounts
Against Not as much fun as the Mini; expensive to buy and run
Verdict An excellent sports coupé, and the most practical here
3rd – Peugeot RCZ
For Smooth, punchy engine; agile on smooth roads; cheap to buy and run
Against Too firm and easily upset by bumpy roads; useless rear seats
Verdict The budget option, and great to look at, but ultimately rather flawed
Specifications: Mini Coupé John Cooper Works
Engine size 1.6-litre petrol
List price when new £23,795
Price today £9000
Torque 192lb ft
Top speed 146mph
Fuel economy 39.8mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 165g/km
Specifications: Volkswagen Scirocco 2.0 TSI 210 GT
Engine size 2.0-litre petrol
List price when new £24,705
Price today £10,000
Torque 207lb ft
Top speed 149mph
Fuel economy 38.2mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 172g/km
Specifications: Peugeot RCZ 1.6 THP 200 GT
Engine size 1.6-litre petrol
List price when new £25,945
Price today £8500
Torque 203lb ft
Top speed 141mph
Fuel economy 42.1mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 159g/km
Price today is based on a 2011 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
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