There was a time when concept cars remained concepts - they were no more likely to be seen on the A4040 than the Batmobile or a Red Bull F1 car. But things have changed. Alfa Romeo has brought the futuristic Brera into production. Land Rover has released the Evoque. And now Peugeot is at it too with the RCZ, which was first revealed as a concept in 2007.
Of all these manufacturers, the French company is in most need of the excitement that might come from such a move, its lacklustre model range being about as sexy as a lecture on the deficit from Danny Alexander. The good news is that the RCZ really does look special. From the back it vaguely resembles a Porsche Boxster. From the side, it looks a bit like the Audi TT. But the most striking bits - such as the 'double-bubble' rear windscreen, the sweeping aluminium roof rails, the self-raising spoiler - are original. Pound for pound, this must be the most glamorous car on the market.
The other piece of good news about the RCZ is that at speed it's fun to drive. The 1.6-litre engine the Peugeot shares with BMW's fast Minis is not lightning-quick, but it feels swift enough, the gear shifts are snappy, it has fabulous front-end grip, it feels smooth and agile on motorways, it is happy in high-speed turns and it comes to a halt well too, thanks to the large 340mm front brakes.
But, slow down a bit, pootle around town and the banality of this car becomes apparent. As a concept, this model was known as 308 RCZ, because it was based on the 308 hatchback, and once you get over the innovative styling, the posh leather, the smart clock, the low-slung seating position, the smattering of neat soft-touch materials, the roofline and the lovely exhaust note, that is what this Pug feels like.
The steering at low speeds is sticky like the 308's. The dashboard is still clearly 308-derived. And then there are the acres of cheap, hard plastic which reminded me more of the Ford Fiesta I learnt to drive in than the VW Scirocco or Audi TT the RCZ aspires to compete with. Sadly, this car is a demonstration of the fact that sometimes it is best not to make dreams come true. 3 OUT OF 5
Peugeot RCZ GT, £25,945
Engine: 1,598 cc, four-cylinder petrol, turbocharged
Power: 200 bhp @ 5,800 rpm
Torque: 203 lb/ft @ 1,770 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Fuel consumption: 42.1 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 emissions: 155 g/km
0-62 mph: 7.6 seconds
Top speed: 146 mph