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The Low-Down on French Cars

France conjures images of great food, Parisian nightlife, beautiful women and San Tropez beaches. It has also been the source of some great cars.

Renault was absent from the US market for 20 years and had a less-than-stellar reputation due to such cars as the Alliance, 12 and Le Car. It has, however, since staged a comeback, thanks largely to the work of CEO and chairman, Carlos Ghosn, whom Ford attempted to poach.

The Renault Alpine is a sports car that was the successor to the Feugo in every way. A rear engine coupe, it was noticed after its success on race tracks in the early 1970s. The Clio is, without a doubt, Renault’s biggest seller. It has been acclaimed both commercially and critically and has been the best-selling car in Europe for three generations. The R5 Turbo is, quite simply, a fun car. The Avantime, meanwhile, was highly creative and has cult status. It was great for making an entrance, but less so for making a journey. It was not, alas, profitable, and despite being intensely-warmly received at the 1998 Paris motor show, was kept in production for a mere two years.

Famously, Sebastien Loeb raced in a production Citroën C4 Coupe, which he crashed in the Acropolis Rally of 2009. The car is not robust, but its tech-heavy interior features will appeal to your geekish streak. The aged 2CV is another car which has a cult following. It was very slow and just as ugly, but compensated for these with its character. The Citroen DS has been described as a “slithering amoeba,” but its appearance is striking, it handles very well, and it featured great innovation. The Saxo has been the saviour of many budget-conscious students, and is cool enough for this millennium, despite being more than a decade old.

The Peugot RCZ is a hybrid of a Peugeot and the Audi TT, and is visually extremely attractive. It was the first car to have a name comprised solely of letters. The 406 Coupe was curvaceous and even more beautiful. The Proxima had a space ship-like design, and looks like it belongs in 2086 and not the 1986 of reality. The Peugot 307 is a small, family car which was first produced in 2001. It was the European Car of the Year in 2002. It continues to be sold in China and some South American markets. A facelift in 2005 made it much more reliable.

The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 ought to appear on any list of the best cars in the world. It has great performance, technology and style. Fast, powerful and downright expensive, it is undoubtedly a legend.

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