Peugeot RCZ, the coolest car in Canton, China

Peugeot RCZ Asphalt Limited Edition

Peugeot RCZ Asphalt Limited Edition

What was the coolest not-made-in-China car at the Canton Motor Show? We thought you’d never ask. It’s the Peugeot RCZ, a 2+2 sport coupe. The award—officially the ““Imported Cool Car of the Year”—came Sohu.com, one of the most popular and heavily trafficked sites in the People’s Republic of China.

The RCZ was also named “Imported Sports Car of the Year” by the newspaper Southern Metropolis Daily, a major newspaper in Canton, and the Chinese edition of the magazine Top Gear called the RCZ the “Best Sports Car of the Year”

So what does it take to win such plaudits with a car you’ve probably never heard of? The Peugeot RCZ began life a concept at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, and was enough of a hit that Peugeot decided to put it into production. The first cars started coming off the Magna Styer production line in Austria in the spring of 2010, only two years after the decision to build it was made.

The Peugeot RCZ began with a special edition priced at €35,500. It’s the first Peugeot model with a name without a “0” or “00” in the middle. A two-door hatchback with a tight +2 rear seat, the RCZ is only about 53 inches tall. The design borrows from a number of sources, with an overall look not unlike the old Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia with a modern edge.

Peugeot RCZ Asphalt Limited Edition

The Peugeot RCZ Asphalt Limited Edition has an active two-stage rear spoiler.

The roof has a double-bubble contour, unusual for a 2+2 and not even particularly common for a two-seater. The rear deck of the Peugeot RCZ is capped with a two-stage active rear spoiler.

Three engines are offered, a 1.6-liter gas, a 2.0 diesel and a turbo 2.0-liter gas engine, the latter rated at 200 hp. With that engine, Peugeot cites a 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) acceleration time of 7.6 seconds for the RCZ and a fuel economy rating of 43.3 mpg.

In its first year, Peugeot sold 30,000 of the 2+2, celebrating with an “Asphalt” limited edition model, finished in matte gray. Peugeot is limiting the Asphalt to 800 cars, expecting to sell more than 20,000 of the Peugeot RCZ in 2011.

Your chance of being Canton cool here in the U.S., however, is somewhere between zero and zilch. Peugeot threw in the towel in America in August, 1991, having sold only 2,223 cars in the first three months of the year. Poor quality and a 151 store nationwide dealership network doomed the French automaker in the U.S. Unlike Fiat, however, there’s no push for Peugeot to return to North America. It’s infinitely more likely to see a Peugeot RCZ in China than in the U.S. Sorry, no cool for you.