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Peugeot RCZ Performance Tuning Guide

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Table of Contents


There are a couple of different engine choices for the RCZ.

The most common is the 1.6 THP. This four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine is available in different power outputs, ranging from 156 to 270 horsepower depending on the model.

Fun fact, the 270bhp version found in the RCZ R is actually the most powerful 1.6L production engine in the world!  

On the diesel side of things, there is the 2.0L HDi engine which combined fuel efficiency with solid performance. 

It is available in various power outputs, ranging from 163 to 200 horsepower.

Both engines can be tuned with some carefully chosen performance mods, however the 1.6 THP petrol engines do seem to respond the best to performance upgrades. 

Performance Exhaust

Upgrading to an aftermarket exhaust is a great way to increase the power and sound of your Peugeot RCZ.

With so many options available, there is a lot to consider when upgrading the exhaust system. 

Are you primary looking for additional sound? Or are you after as much performance as possible?

Let’s start at the back of the exhaust nearest the turbo. This is the downpipe and catalytic converter section of the exhaust. Replacing this section with an aftermarket downpipe and a high flow catalytic converter (sports cat) can increase performance and lead to a much more responsive throttle. 

The standard downpipe and cats are quite restrictive so opting for a more free flowing option can help the turbo and engine breathe better, decreasing back pressure and unlocking hidden ponies. 

If your RCZ is used for the track only, you could instead go for a decat instead of the sports cat. A decat is usually a bit cheaper than going for a sports cat but isn’t road legal. 

After the catalytic converter section of the exhaust we have the cat-back section. This is the backbox and is the section responsible for the sound your RCZ produces. 

If you are mainly after increasing the sound of of the car and having it produce a deeper and throatier exhaust note, then this is the section you will want to upgrade. You can get some small power gains from upgrading this section as well, but most power gains come from replacing the downpipe and standard catalytic converter. 

For maximum power gains, replace the downpipe, sports cat, and cat-back section with a free flowing aftermarket exhaust. This is often referred to as a turbo-back exhaust as it replaces the entire exhaust from the turbo.

There are also aesthetic touches you can have done with an aftermarket exhaust.

Some owners will stick on some aftermarket exhaust tips to give the rear of the car a real sporty edge. 

A quad tip exhaust is also a common upgrade. 

Panel Filter

There is always a lot of debate and discussion when it comes to talking about the best air intake for a particular car. Some owners will swear by a cone filter while others will insist on sticking with the stock airbox to maximise the cold air being drawn in. 

With these cars, many owners tend to opt for an aftermarket panel filter as an upgrade over the standard air filter. 

An aftermarket panel filter typically provides better airflow to your engine, allowing it to breathe more efficiently. This can result in a more responsive throttle. They also don’t need replacing as often as the standard air filters, so can be economical in this regard. 

On the other side of the coin we have the cone filter/CAI. It is generally accepted on the RCZ that these can cause the engine to actually lose power, although very marginal. This is due to the positioning of it in the engine bay where the air is likely to be hotter and therefore less dense. 

If you are looking for more induction sound, then these are the way to go however. You will get much more “whooshes” and turbo sounds from this than a panel filter. 

It all comes down to how much you value performance vs sound.

Peugeot RCZ Pipercross Panel Filter

Pipercross Panel Filter

For the Peugeot RCZ 1.6

Upgraded Intercooler

One of the main advantages of installing an aftermarket intercooler on your Peugeot RCZ is the potential for increased power output over a period of time.

The intercooler helps to lower the intake air temperature, resulting in a denser and cooler air entering the engine. This allows for improved combustion efficiency, which translates into increased horsepower and torque.

This becomes particularly useful when driving in areas with hot climates or participating in track days. 

In regions with high temperatures, the intake air can become excessively hot, negatively impacting engine performance and reliability. By installing an aftermarket intercooler, you can effectively combat this issue and ensure that you maintain optimal performance even in scorching conditions.

If you’ve took your RCZ on track, you’ll likely have experienced heat soak and a lack of power over time after pushing hard for a while. This is due to the standard intercooler losing it’s cooling efficiency. An aftermarket option with greater cooling capacity minimises these effects. 

AIRTEC who are a leader in aftermarket intercooler manufacturing have a bespoke intercooler for the 1.6 RCZ’s which you can take a look at below.

Airtec Intercooler

For the Peugeot RCZ 1.6


Are you looking for an easy and effective power boost for your Peugeot RCZ?

Look no further than a remap! A remap is one of the best value modifications you can make to enhance the performance of the car.

With a remap, you can unlock the hidden power potential of the RCZ. The engine control unit (ECU) is reprogrammed to optimise the performance settings, resulting in a significant increase in horsepower and torque. 

No other mods are required for a remap alone, which is often referred to as a Stage 1 remap. If you plan on fitting other mods to the car like an exhaust, then it’s a good idea to get the car remapped after fitting these mods to maximise their effectiveness.  

The gains you get from a remap alone will depend on the health of your RCZ and whether or not you have any other performance mods fitted. 

From a remap alone on a healthy engine and turbo, you can expect gains of the following:

1.6 THP 156:

Original: 156bhp    Tuned : 190bhp

1.6 THP 200:

Original: 200bhp    Tuned : 230-235bhp

2.0 HDi:

Original: 163bhp    Tuned : 200bhp

With the R version (270bhp) they are already highly tuned in standard form so you may not get large gains from a remap alone.

Boost Gauge

A boost gauge is designed to measure the amount of boost pressure generated by the turbo. By  displaying real-time readings, it allows you to monitor how much boost the engine is producing.

This is important information that can be used to ensure you are getting adequate performance, as well as diagnose any issues with the turbocharger or intake system.

This is especially useful if your RCZ is tuned and remapped to produce more boost than stock. Running more boost through the system puts additional stress on various vacuum hoses throughout the intake system.

Over time, this can lead to the hoses failing and cracking which can result in boost leaks costing you power. A boost gauge can help you keep on top of this and let you know if your RCZ is down on power. 

You can mount a boost gauge in a few different locations including above the dashboard, along the A-pillar, or integrated into the dashboard. 

If you want to preserve the OEM look of the interior, then integrating a boost gauge into one of the vents is great option. This can help add some personality to the interior as well as make it easily readable from your driving position.

Lowering Springs

Lowering the ride height of the RCZ reduces the car’s centre of gravity, resulting in improved handling and stability. With a lower centre of gravity, the car feels more planted and responsive.

Lowering spring can also help to minimise body roll by stiffening the car’s suspension. This leads to a more controlled and stable driving experience, especially when taking sharp turns or navigating winding roads.

Due to the RCZ sitting quite low in standard form, you won’t want to drop too much. Going too low vastly increases the hance of scraping issues with speed bumps and uneven road surfaces. 

20mm is a good common drop height that many owners go for.

This will make the wheels sit more flush with the car, reducing the arch gap as well as lower the centre of gravity and increase handling performance.  

30mm is another drop height that some owners go for, however your chances of scraping bumps etc are greatly increased along with extra stress on other suspension components like the shock absorbers. 

It’s a good idea to check the state of the shock absorbers before installing lowering springs anyway to ensure they are still in decent condition. If they are looking a bit worn, get them replaced before fitting new springs. 

Direnza make a fantastic and affordable set for the RCZ which you can check out below.

Peugeot RCZ Direnza Lowering Springs

Direnza 25mm Lowering Springs

For the Peugeot RCZ 1.6

Finishing Thoughts

While a quick car in it’s standard form, there are various upgrades that you can do to enhance the power of the RCZ and unlock it’s untapped potential. 

For the most cost effective power upgrades, install a turbo-back exhaust and then have it remapped which should see you 40bhp up! 

As mentioned earlier in the article, it’s a good idea to have the physical mods fitted on the car before remapping. Doing it the other way around can leave power on the table. 

Happy modding!