For some strange reason, for most of us people, France and the French are seldom associated with great cars. Perhaps it is our image of them producing the best bread that overshadows their forte in creating great cars. Or maybe it could be our own ignorance. Either way, the fact remains that some of the sexiest and most coveted cars come from France. The best brands of French cars are not too hard to find as they are in fact, global names.
Photo by AlainDurand
Renault – Founded by the Renault brothers this French automaker post its alliance with Nissan has become the world’s no. 4 largest automaker.
Peugeot – A product of the Peugeot family business, this company was founded as early as in 1810. Currently, it is the second largest car maker in Europe.
Citroen – This French automobile company was founded in 1919 by Andre Citroen. Though originally a mass-production car manufacturer it has also come up with many innovative car designs such as the Traction Avant.
Bugatti – Founded by an Italian immigrant, Ettore Bugatti in Molsheim, France it is a manufacturer of high performance automobiles. In fact, the original company is famed for producing some of the fastest and most exclusive cars in the world.
Venturi – Born under the name of Manufacture de Voitures de Sport, when translated it simply means manufacturer of sports cars. The original company is known for making mid-engined sports cars such as the Venturi Atlantique. However, it filed for bankruptcy in 2000 and after being bought, it is now located in Monaco producing only extremely limited electric vehicles.
A countdown of the top 15 French cars seems harsh business as all the cars that fit the bill are top cars in their own. Hence, the following list is not ranked according to any particular order.
1. Renault Alpine
This is a break-away from the usual everyday cars that Renault is famed for producing. The Alpine is a sports car that succeeded the Feugo and in all areas. It is a rear engine coupe that got noticed post its success on the race tracks during the early ‘70s.
This is undoubtedly the biggest seller of the Renault production house. The Clio has received both commercial and critical success and has been around as Europe’s top selling car for 3 generations.
Photo by nordschleifenfan
3. Renault R5 Turbo
This is quite simply a fun car. An evolution of the R5, it has 158 horsepower and 1.4 litre turbo making it a mid-engine, rear-drive which is indeed a step up from its muse.
Photo by spork_spelunking
4. Renault Sport Spider
This was the company’s come-back in the late 1990’s after being missing from the American markets for about 20 years. This mid-engine car is a perfect blend of great driving experience without being drowned in such comforts.
Photo by dj_edob
5. Renault Avantime
Called a ‘glorious failure’, this car scores points on creativity where it could not score on profitability.
Photo by Mick Travis
6. Bugatti Veyron 16.4
This car should easily make the list of best cars in the world. The Veyron is one of those cars whose looks tell you exactly what it is capable of which include superb style, technology, performance and exclusivity. Fast, expensive and powerful are some of the adjectives one can use for the Veyron. And unquestionably, the Veyron is a legend in its own right.
Photo by Jeroenolthof.nl
7. Bugatti EB 110
Produced between 1991 and 1995, the EB 110 can be called the great predecessor of the Veyron. This car has everything in the extreme being built with a mid-mounted, quad-turbo V-12 with up to 592 horsepower; a 0-60 reaching speed in as little as 3.2 seconds; and, a top speed of up to 216 mph.
Photo by Pro Photo Photography
8. Venturi Fetish
Aptly named the fetish considering the sensations this car gives you when driving this car is just plain hot and priced at $427,000, it better be! The French counterpart of the American Tesla, it is way costlier and with its low profile it is doubtable how many have actually been sold.
Photo by big-ashb
9. Citroen C4 Coupe
Though the C4 Coupe is really built to raze the roads, the tech-heavy interiors and the optional hybrid drivetrain configurations push it up into the list of best French cars. An additional fact, this is the car that was famously raced and crashed in the Acropolis Rally 2009 by Sebastian Loeb.
Photo by Exosphere
10. Citroen 2CV
The Citroen 2CV is one car that is so famous in France that it has its own cult following. Perhaps the slowest car and easily one of the least best looking, the 2CV makes up for all this in its character.
Photo by rbpdesigner
Approximately having about 12 car parts which include the engine and the wheels yet it makes up for one fun driving experience.
11. Citroen DS
A creepy looking car, it has been appropriately called as resembling a “slithering amoeba”. It is precisely this reason that makes this car so cool and of course, good handling and innovation play their parts as well.
The Peugeot hot hatch though not so well known can absolutely be considered as fun as the more famous VW hot hatch. The original 205 GTI which was built in the 1980s came with a 1.6 litre engine that thrived on revving and had great balance despite a front drive layout.
Photo by Philandthehounds
13. Peugeot RCZ
A hybrid between the Audi TT and a Peugeot, this car is probably one of the best looking ‘Pugs’ in the car market. The RCZ is the first car to use letters in its name than numbers.
Photo by SuperCarFreak
14. Peugeot 406 Coupe
One of the three body styles in the 406 range, the coupe had a curvaceous profile and is easily the most beautiful and graceful of the lot.
Photo by *vlad*
15. Citroen Saxo
The Saxo makes it to the list simply this funky, urban car has been a savior for most students on a budget. And though it is more than a decade old, it still looks cool enough to be in this millennium.
While this was the top 15, there are a few others that deserve to be mentioned such as:
Renault A610 – Although only 65 A610s were made, this rear-engined car could easily Porsche’s 911 due to its great handling, performance and looks.
Renault A160 – The first generation Twingo (a combination of twing, swing and tango) was indeed a masterpiece with a brilliantly designed interior as well as exterior.
Citroen Activa – A glassy and classy design that had oodles of technology and did much to give Citroen its name.
Peugeot Proxima – The Proxima had a twin-turbo mid-mounted 2850cc V6 giving 600bhp and a top speed of 200mph. What makes it stand out is it space-ship like design making it look like a car from 3000B.C rather than from 1986.