Five reasons why you should (not) buy a French car

Just as one swears by a holiday in La douce France, the other curses the ‘unfriendly’ French. Hate and love are closely linked in France, and so are the cars from that country. They are often praised but also loathed for their unreliable nature. We give you five reasons why you should (not) buy a French car.

Plus: quirky design

As boring and predictable as German cars are, so exciting and sexy is the French car. There are exciting candidates, especially if you are looking for an apartment or a vintage French car. That’s how Godin comes from France, because it was the nickname of our very first cover model. That Citroen DS seemed to come from another planet then and now and was incomparable. Now with the big game of platform parts and universal turbo engines under the hood, stubbornness is increasingly a thing of the past. But the French have a great history with great models. So look for a classic or used model, because then you can still buy something truly French. A first Twingo costs almost nothing, is very spacious and functional and already almost classic with an original design. A C6 is more expensive and technically quite complex, but a great big Citroen. Another uniquely designed limousine is the almost forgotten Renault Vel Satis. Or how about the very first Renault Espace, which is a real French cult bus.

First test Citroen DS from 1956
Citroen DS as the very first car that Autovisie tested.

Plus: comfort and special technology

The French made history with ground-breaking cars, including the DS, which you can safely call a floating type with its spring balls. The hydropneumatic suspension system was very innovative. The Ugly Duck or 2CV also had a very special chassis and a brilliant construction that excelled in simplicity. Deux Chevaux had to be able to serve the farmer and drive across the country with a basket of eggs on his back without breaking them. The French car passed the test and lived on for many decades as a classic in all possible guises; from Dyane to Mehari. And what about exclusive brands such as Matra, Panhard, MVS or Bugatti? Very tempting French….

French car Citroen C6
One of the last real French limousines: the Citroen C6

Plus: sporty variants

The French temperament is reflected in the rich hot hatch and GTI past. It started with fast Gordini versions of the Dauphine and R8 and later continued with hot versions of the Clio. There were the sixteen-valve versions and the spicy (now also priced) Clio Williams. But the much later RS ​​versions of the Twingo, Clio and Megane are also not to be missed. In between are true white ravens that are hard to find and expensive. The Megane R26R is such an exclusive type, but there are also affordable and really good driving cars, just look at a Twingo RS. Peugeot has a good reputation when it comes to GTIs. Of course you have the legendary 205 GTI, but also a 306, 309 or 106 was there as a GTI. Each and every one of them sharp steering cars with relatively simple technology and a lot of experience. If you really just want to drive a French car and don’t need luxury, choose the pure Rallye versions. Citroën also had the rally-like versions for some time. Just look for one on Visa Chrono or AX Sport.

The pure Peugeot 205 rallye

Minus: build quality

The design of the bodies can often be seductively beautiful, but the build quality of the French car often left a lot to be desired, especially in the acclaimed decades when design reigned supreme. Like wine, you had good years and bad years, some years were extremely susceptible to rust, others almost not. The atmosphere on board is always good because the design is usually surprising and stylish, but the materials are often of lower quality and not durable. With more modern Citroëns and Peugeots, you’ve seen a revival of great design in recent years and the build quality and materials are at a much higher level than before. Furthermore, the brands are stubborn again with, for example, the i-cockpit, but also the exterior design.

French car
Many early visas did not last long due to mediocre build quality

Minus: less timeless

Bold and fast-changing design styles have the downside that you don’t easily buy a used car because it has clearly been overtaken by new fashion trends. The durability of the materials used is less than with most German used cars, which is often reflected in worn interiors. In terms of technology, the French car has roughly matched the cars from other countries for years. Some types have obvious weaknesses. Take a look at our buying guides on this page.

Dreamoccasion Renault Megane R26 Radical 008
This R26R is rare and desirable, the regular versions looked out of date quickly and you hardly see it anymore.

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Five reasons why you should (not) buy a French car

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