Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: The French Go Back To The Clio

Matt Gasnier
by Matt Gasnier
best selling cars around the globe the french go back to the clio

Over the past weeks we have flown into Zimbabwe, New Caledonia, Iceland and The Entire World (yes Sir!), this week it is time to stop in my own country, France. Yes I know I am confusing you, I am based in Australia but come from France… Only the French…

Now if Paris, baguettes, berets and grumpy old men are not your tasse de cafe au lait that’s ok, rest assured I won’t be offended because I have prepared 159 additional countries for you to visit in my blog, so don’t be shy and click away, oui oui!

Well this year in France the best-selling model had not been in that position in 5 years…Oh la la!

French car sales are down just 2% in 2011 at 2,204,065 in 2011, which is an outstanding performance in the current economic context. For the first time since 2006 the Renault Clio 3rd generation is the best-selling car in the country with 123,827 sales and 5.6 percent share, stable on last year. Boosted by heavy promotions on its petrol version, the Clio hit the 3rd generation’s highest market share in September at 9.4 percent.

It is the 13th time in the nameplate’s 20 year-life that the Clio finishes the year in pole position in France, making it the 2nd most successful nameplate below the Renault 5/Supercinq (14 times). The first year the Clio was #1 was 1992 when it sold 233,209 units for a 11.1 percent market shareSee all the years the Clio ranked #1 here.

Losing its crown for the first time in a full year (it was #1 since its first full year in market in 2007), the Peugeot 207 is #2 with 103,321 sales and 4.7 percent share, down 19 percent. A difficult year for Peugeot’s best-seller but its successor the 208 has already been unveiled and will go on sale in March 2012.

Helped by the new generation of the model now if full swing, the Citroen C3 is up 8 percent on 2010, climbing up to #3 with 79,364 sales and 3.3 percent share. It is the first time a Citroen ranks on the French podium in 26 years! Since the Citroen BX was #3 in 1985 with 7 percent of the market

The C3 is only the 6th Citroen to claw its way onto the annual French podium since 1945 with the Traction Avant, 2CV, Ami 6, GS and BX.

It is followed by 3 Renaults: the Mégane at 78,861 units (-1 percent)..

Twingo at 68,265 sales (-26 percent)..

and Scénic at 66,360 units (-12 percent).

Boosted by a light facelift, the Peugeot 308 is up one spot to #7.

Best-selling foreign model for the 2nd year in a row, the VW Polo takes advantage of a fantastic end of year to gain 10 percent and 4 spots on 2010 to #8 at 53,582 units and 2.4 percent share. This is the highest year-end ranking reached by a foreign model in 15 years! Since the Ford Fiesta ranked #8 in 1996

The next two models make their first appearance ever in the French year-end Top 10: the Peugeot 3008 continues to progress at +7 percent and +2 spots on 2010 to #9 with 53,297 sales and 2.4 percent share. It broke into the monthly Top 5 for the first time in May at #5.

The Dacia Duster is the success story of the year: it sells 51,612 units for its first full year, landing at This is the first time in the history of the automobile in France that an SUV/4WD ranks within the year-end Top 10. The Duster ranked #1 for one week in April and broke into the monthly Top 5 for the first time in November at #5.

The new generation Citroen C4 ramped up all through the year to break into the Top 10 in December, finishing 2011 at

Excellent performance of the Citroen DS3 up to #17 with 33,015 sales and 1.5 percent share…

…and the Nissan Qashqai breaking into the French year-end Top 20 for the first time at up 17 percent. It is one of only 5 foreign models in the Top 25 below the Polo, Ford Fiesta, VW Golf and Opel Corsa (Owned at 100% by Renault, Dacia is considered a French brand). It is also the first time ever Nissan manages to place a model in the French year-end Top 20.

All-new this year, the Peugeot 508 lands directly in Top 20 with 28,507 sales, already leader in its category ahead of the Citroen C5 ( Renault Laguna ( and VW Passat ( Further down the ranking, the Ford C-Max up 67 percent to the Nissan Juke landing directly #32 and already flirting with the monthly Top 20 and the Audi A1 the brand’s best-seller straight from its first full year at

France Full Year 2011 Top 30

Model2011%/102010%PosRenault Clio123,8275.6%0%123,7305.5%1Peugeot 207103,3214.7%-19%126,8545.6%2Citroen C379,3643.6%8%73,5933.3%6Renault Mégane78,8613.6%-1%79,5073.5%4Renault Twingo68,2353.1%-26%92,1674.1%3Renault Scénic66,3603.0%-12%75,4593.4%5Peugeot 30862,2742.8%-2%63,3952.8%8VW Polo53,5822.4%10%48,8052.2%12Peugeot 300853,2972.4%7%50,0272.2%11Dacia Duster51,6122.3%166%19,4370.9%31Citroen C4 Picasso46,9822.1%-9%51,6322.3%10Citroen C446,3912.1%772%5,3190.2%n/aFord Fiesta45,0142.0%-1%45,5122.0%13Peugeot 206+44,1802.0%-21%56,1352.5%9VW Golf43,9742.0%2%43,1541.9%14Opel Corsa38,6671.8%2%38,0161.7%15Citroen DS333,0151.5%25%26,4171.2%23Citroen C3 Picasso31,1391.4%-2%31,7031.4%18Nissan Qashqai29,7011.3%17%25,4681.1%24Peugeot 50828,5071.3%new3970.0%n/aPeugeot 500827,8971.3%3%27,0051.2%22Dacia Sandero27,3231.2%-60%68,0163.0%7Renault Modus27,0381.2%-1%27,4291.2%21Citroen C526,0171.2%-7%27,9321.2%20Renault Clio Campus25,2171.1%-33%37,6791.7%16Renault Laguna23,7981.1%6%22,4131.0%26Ford C-Max23,1011.0%67%13,8660.6%42Citroen C122,9451.0%-27%31,4671.4%19Mini21,7001.0%21%18,0070.8%35Toyota Yaris21,4841.0%12%19,1010.8%33

You can see the Full Year 2011 French Top 392 here

You can see each year’s best-selling models in France since 1949 here. (Scroll down to the table and click on the year to see the detailed ranking)

Join the conversation
2 of 25 comments
  • ManuelFaber ManuelFaber on Jan 20, 2012

    Salut, je savais pas que tu étais français, je te félicite pour ton blog, bravo !

  • Rayb2403 Rayb2403 on Jul 21, 2013

    i love old french cars have owned many peugeots and citroens in the past, however i think modern french metal is getting a little to mainstream, however i guess thats what the masses want, a lot of the french cars lately have a reliability record which is shameful. The peugeots and citroens of old were most reliable....espeially the old xud diesel units.

  • 28-Cars-Later "Honda and Acura haven’t yet released an EV in the United States"Ok..."The 2024 ZDX rides on GM’s Ultium Platform and will feature Google built-in services. "Waht?
  • Theflyersfan I was just at the Mazda dealer getting one of the free scheduled maintenances taken care of and saw a couple of these on the lot (inventory...I know!!! No Mazda3s or MX-5s, but had some CX-5s and CX-50s). They are even nicer in person - the paint especially stands out. Plus the terracotta interior treatment isn't something done by Honda, Toyota, or Nissan so you can get something different. The slight price hike is worth it and it's worth it just to have something that isn't white, black, or a million shades of gray. Or get the Soul Red. You can never go wrong with that color. I just with the terracotta interior was offered with that.
  • VoGhost This new SLX looks to be quite a trooper.
  • Wolfwagen I would rather have an annual inspection that may catch something early or at least the driver can be informed of an impending issue. Government vs private is another issue and unscrupulous mechanics is another.On a slightly different topic is the inspection of salvage or rebuilt cars. In NYS it is strictly to ensure that stolen parts were not used to rebuild the vehicle. I would rather see an inspection to ensure that the vehicle has been properly put back together.
  • PeterPuck For years, Ford has simply reworked existing designs originating from Europe and Japanese manufacturers, not being capable of designing a decent car in the USA.What’s the last clean sheet design from the USA? The 1986 Taurus?And they still can’t manage to get things right.why is this? Are they putting all of the competent engineers and designers on the F150? Is woke diversification affecting them, as some rumours suggest? Are they rewarding incompetence?