By on September 19, 2017

Peugeot Bipper Tepee, UImage: PSA Group

Yesterday, we brought you the latest update on PSA Group’s long-term plan to return to the U.S. market. The company will start producing U.S.-compliant vehicles starting in three years, with the French automaker able to turn on the product taps anytime after that, should buyers (and more importantly, a dealer network) fall into place.

No, there’ll be no Renaults, no slinky Alpine A110 coupe, but there could be Citroëns, Peugeots and DS models available within the decade should PSA’s plans come to fruition. Forget Germany, Japan, Korea and Sweden. Forget Ford. Is there a French car in your future?

To some, the thought of owning a French car — the pinnacle of automotive quirkiness — is a dream only attainable by snapping up something at least 26 years old from the murky depths of eBay or, if you’ve got a few more bucks to rub together, importing something straight from the Tricolor country itself.

While our minds quickly turn to thoughts of the classic Citroën DS and SM, and perhaps the CX, 2CV or Ronin-featured XM (and Peugeot 505, 504, etc.), we’re not here to talk about old French cars. No one’s resurrecting these models, and there’ll never be a no-mile Déesse appearing in a showroom near you. Current lineup only.

Maybe you’ve perused PSA and Renault’s websites. Perhaps a French car currently in production caught your fancy, prompting you to say, “I’d lay down cash for that if it would only make its way across the Atlantic.” They have MPVs, you know.

If so, what is it? What model makes you pine for a Franco-American romance?

[Image: PSA Group]

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38 Comments on “QOTD: Are You Holding Out for a (French) Hero?...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    I read this article’s title in the singing voice of Bonnie Tyler, with the drum machine’s prominent, glorious beat in the background. Not so much Footloose, more like the scene from Short Circuit 2.

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    “the pinnacle of automotive quirkiness”

    Not any more. Peugeot’s 2017 range is dull and generically styled. They’re like Korean cars, but less well-assembled.

    Peugeot-Citroen made some great cars in the 80s and 90s – the 205, 405, BX and XM were much loved, and low mileage 205 GTIs are highly prized by collectors (https://www.pistonheads.com/news/general-pistonheads/the-30k-205-gti/34702).

    But the current range is nowhere near as good. I can’t think of a single current Peugeot that a North American buyer might want. You already have a great choice of compact and subcompact cars at prices we Europeans can only dream of.

    In the UK, Peugeot maintains respectable sales figures by the same means as FCA in North America – finance offered to anyone with a pulse, combined with deep discounting.

    • 0 avatar
      karonetwentyc

      This is the absolute God-honest truth. PSA just doesn’t make cars right now that give anyone a reason to buy them beyond price, and their models of the ’80s and ’90s absolutely were their recent pinnacle.

      I grew up driving Peugeots and Citroëns before moving to the US, and we’ve had them in our family since before I was born. But I just can’t care about the current range, despite having some fairly deep connections to both marques. And if I, being somewhat predisposed towards liking their vehicles, can’t be bothered to care, who in America will?

      One piece of commentary regarding the article itself: “we’re not here to talk about old French cars,” has been taken as read. But in the context of French cars in America, discussing past models is unavoidable as, with the exception of a few Twizys brought in under EV import regs, there aren’t any new French cars to compare with. And even in Europe, the comparisons with older models still hold up because there’s just no escaping the fact that PSA’s cars these days are about as exciting as damp cardboard.

      However, in an attempt to add a model that is contemporarily-relevant to the French motor industry into the discussion, I’ll offer the Citroën e-Mehari. Sliding momentarily into reminiscence, it reminds me fondly of the 2CVs and Meharis that I’ve had, and at least piques my interest somewhat. But I can tell that it would be a lot more appealing to me with a petrol-powered flat-twin up front (as a concession to modernity, it can be water-cooled), and that there aren’t enough people like me out there to make it worth bringing to the US in either electric or fossil fuel form.

      The next car will probably be another Volkswagen. The Germans have continued to do a better job of making cars with a German character to them than the French have attempted with theirs over the past 15 years or so.

      • 0 avatar
        BobNelson

        I agree that the current Peugeot lineup is boring. Competent, but boring. The thing is, there are a lot of people who desire “competent and not challenging” which is kinda sorta the same thing. “Daring” is applauded by pundits… but doesn’t usually sell all that well.

        The world champion of “competent and not challenging” is of course Volkswagen, which you declare to be your next purchase. So you might actually be a potential Peugeot buyer! ☺️

        • 0 avatar
          karonetwentyc

          Regarding buyer desire for compentent but boring cars: wholeheartedly agree. Most buyers are more accurately termed consumers in the sense that they don’t care how the car does what it does qualitatively as long as it does it quantitatively and they can go get a new one once the current one is paid off or out of lease. And that’s fine; not everyone needs to be (or should be expected to be) an enthusiast.

          But that comes back the question of ‘daring’ cars. Peugeot, historically, has arguably been the most conservative of France’s Big Three manufacturers, even accounting for their ownership of Citroën. That isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, and hasn’t prevented them from making cars with excellent dynamic qualities that override the outward (or even inward) appearance of the car. We’ve got a 505 in the driveway right now that’s a good example of that.

          The problem is that they’ve lost those dynamic qualities that made their cars appealing. A competent vehicle is one I can generally live with: the diesel Jetta parked next to the Peugeot is a good example of this, and part of the reason that I ended up signing a contract for it was that it reminded me of Peugeots past in that it’s better at what it does than appearances may suggest. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough out of the box at what it does to be eminently liveable. There’s even a bit of character to it. It’s small, but there.

          But competent *and* boring? Can’t do it. More power to everyone who loves their Camrys, Accords, and Taurii, but it’s just not me.

          That said, both would be swept out of the driveway in a heartbeat for an Alpine. Nissan-Renault just needs to get its act together on Federalising that one (for which I will not hold my breath) and PSA can go sell as many beige boxes as it can manage.

          • 0 avatar
            BobNelson

            Only one of the dozen cars my wife and I have owned over the last four decades has been a Peugeot… and that was a special case: the 104 ZS was a pocket-rocket competitor for the 1st generation Golf GTi.

            We have owned several Citroëns, although nothing too strange. My wife’s C5 twenty years ago was a comfy barge (by European standards), her first automatic transmission. It had pneumatic suspension all around.

            Our ten-year-old Picassos have pneumatic (self-leveling) rear suspensions, and fixed-hub steering wheels.

            Today’s Citroëns are Peugeots under the skin. :-((

  • avatar
    Eggshen2013

    I once owned a Renault, once.

  • avatar

    Drove a Renault minivan in Spain….the US equivalent would be an FCA product. Toyota, Honda and even Nissan would be a better choice.

  • avatar
    greatpaper

    The pictured vehicle looks like what Honda should have done with the element.the sliding door is a great idea.if it ever gets here sign me up.now that assumes my ’04 200k mile element ever fails me.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I rented a C4 Cactus in England. When the rental place in France tried to throw me another one I raised hell and got a Focus wagon (brown + diesel). I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from that.

  • avatar
    BobNelson

    My wife and I both have ten-year-old Citroën C4 Picasso MPVs. Great cars!

    But I don’t see anything in today’s PSA lineup that is particularly competitive, compared to the other vendors. No worse, either.

    If one of our Picassos dies, the replacement would be a Renault Captur.
    https://www.renault.co.uk/vehicles/new-vehicles/new-captur.html

    Our stateside car is a well-appointed Buick Encore.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    The only people wanting French cars are those too young to remember the last batch. Have you learned nothing from the Alfa/Fiat fiascoes?

    • 0 avatar
      BobNelson

      Do you really think cars, French or others, haven’t evolved since then?

      Do you actually know anything at all about modern French cars?

      PSA competes with all the other European manufacturers, plus the Japanese and Koreans… in the ultra-competitive small car segment.

      Oh, and… GM recently waved the white flag in that same market…

      • 0 avatar
        slap

        Your arguements are similar to the ones floated when Fiat returned to the US.

        “PSA competes with all the other European manufacturers, plus the Japanese and Koreans… in the ultra-competitive small car segment.”

        And so does Fiat.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Small sample size and going *way* back, but the two Peugeot owners I know got good service from them: a colleague in London who had a 205 (not a GTI, alas) and a 307 CC, and a friend in the US who drove a 505 for over 15 years.

        [shrugging]

  • avatar
    NoID

    If they offered a small 6- or 7-seat MPV, you bet your buns I would.

    I was cautiously optimistic that Fiat would offer the 2018 500L Wagon here, but my dreams were dashed on the rocky shores of reality.

    • 0 avatar
      BobNelson

      Yup.

      Both Peugeot and Citroën offer 5 and 7-seat MPVs.

      Google “Peugeot UK” or “Citroen UK”.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      The Transit Connect Wagon isn’t MPV enough?

      Your best actual hope was the Grand C-Max, but Ford put a bullet in that one…

      • 0 avatar
        NoID

        The Transit Connect Wagon is more of a miniature minivan than an MPV in the Kia Rondo / Mazda 5 / Ford Grand C-Max / Chevrolet Orlando mold. You are however correct in that it’s about the closest thing I could hope for in today’s market unless/until RAM puts a third row in the ProMaster City Wagon.

        The only thing reasonably close to what I need in the corporate stable is the Dodge Journey with 3 rows. I suppose I could lower it and pretend it’s a car, right?

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          Where does miniature minivan end and MPV begin? Aren’t they the same thing? The TCW isn’t as nice to drive as the C-Max, so there’s that. Otherwise, they are both big Foci with different hats.

          The Mazda5 is a minivan.

          • 0 avatar
            NoID

            I beg to differ. My Mazda5 could fit inside the minivans I’ve owned, and is built on the Mazda 3 platform.

            I’d say the difference between MPV and Minivan may just be market posturing. The ProMaster and Transit Connect are clearly small car-based work vans that come in passenger flavor, minivans are built as a sleek yet cavernous space into which people and cargo can be alternately stuffed, while MPVs are small cars with a 3rd row shoehorned in.

            It’s like of like the hair-splitting that’s been occurring of late, with automakers building hatches, but adding 1″ of clearance and calling it a CUV.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “What model makes you pine for a Franco-American romance?”

    Sophie Marceau

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    If I could get a brand new Citroen DS or CX with new car warranty, serviced by a local dealer, etc…

    Yes. Otherwise – Meh.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      …or a brand-new Renault Dauphine. Forget the warranty or local dealer service (they were terrible way back when) and accessorize with a kit containing Bondo, some untwisted coat hangars, a set of slip-joint pliers, a couple screwdrivers, and a test-lamp. I pine for the days of leisurely motoring, listening to the sound of gentle summer rain on the roof that sounds as if I were sitting in a galvanized trash can with pebbles hitting the lid (but without the corrosion protection of the galvanizing), and sounding my city/country horn at those I pass by. AHHH! Those were the days!

    • 0 avatar
      BobNelson

      How well do you know the current PSA lineup?

      Tell us what you like / dislike about the C4 Picasso? Or the DS4?

      I very much suspect that you haven’t any idea… but that doesn’t prevent a vehement opinion, does it?

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        DS3 is like the Opel Adam: a MINI Cooper wannabe that fails miserably at it, and isn’t even attractive, despite being not hampered by MINI’s requirement to harken back in looks to the original. DS4 is an improvement in all ways (thanks in no small part to BMW’s contribution).

        I found 2000s-era Peugeots to be more interesting than today’s, which seem more like appliances. 3008 is getting great press though.

        Nothing PSA sells these days seems lust-worthy though. As much as I support the idea of PSA returning, if I were they, I’m not sure it’d be a worthwhile effort, their egos aside. Too late. They should have come back 15 years ago, like they’d previously teased, but didn’t do.

        • 0 avatar
          BobNelson

          You’re entitled to your opinions, but the market doesn’t agree. The DS3 has had a pretty good career. It’s a bit pricey (although not as nonsensically expensive as the Mini) but has sold well enough to convince PSA to make DS a separate marque from Citroën.

          The DS4 is in an entirely different market segment. While I personally like it, the market doesn’t agree. Citroën risked a shorter, taller shape than the competition, and customers have not been kind.

  • avatar
    mleitman

    Here’s a pretty nice SUV:
    http://www.peugeot.co.uk/showroom/5008/gt-line/

    Or this one (thought it looks Acura-esque)
    http://www.dsautomobiles.fr/modeles-ds/ds-7-crossback.html

    I drove a C5 a few years ago. I liked it a lot.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    Will the cars go on strike every 6 months?

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The Citroen C5 and C6 are the only semi-appealing products, the rest are just small, boring, and slow little rental cars.

  • avatar
    vrtowc

    As you put forward french quirkiness, why on earth the picture shows a purebred Fiat, rebadged and sold as Peugeot?

  • avatar
    AKM

    Must be said that since Carlos Tavares became CEO of PSA, he “cleaned up” the lineup, removing most halo products, chiefly the RCZ.
    POeugeot has always had a reputation forgood driving dynamics, and as such comptes quite directly with Ford.
    I personnally do not like te 308 and 3008, but they are very good entries in their respective compact car and compact SUV segments.
    I drive a 208 regularly for work, and it is decent, or even pretty good.

    DS is an interesting attempt to move upmarket, but one that I find unlikely to succeed beyond (or even in France), as they are just too many entrants, none of which has truly become competitive against the Germans (Alfa, Volvo,…), except for Lexus. Speaking more about the european market than the american one here, which condemns DS in the US all the more.

    Overall, the only quirkiness left in peugrot card are the very small sterring wheels…

    Disclosure: I’m a frenchman, currently living in France after a long spell in the US.

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