It may be a country of cheese, wine and funny shrugs, but French cars can be pretty good too. We’ve come up with four of the best you can buy right now.
The old Peugeot 3008 was, frankly, terrible. A naff hybrid system and iffy looks put it straight in at the bottom of the pile in the increasingly competitive SUV market. This new version, though, is brilliant. The snazzy cockpit, modern styling and solid engine range put it leagues ahead of its forebear, as well as making it a characterful option in a mire of dull SUVs such as the Renault Kadjar, Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Tiguan.
DS 3 Performance
Since DS split away from its Citroen mothership – a move that brought with it the ugly grilles and lack of Citroen badging – the brand has been kept afloat by its Mini-rivalling 3 hatchback. These days it’s getting old, but DS has shown that there’s life in the old dog yet by popping a go-faster engine under the bonnet and some sports seats in the cabin. It isn’t the most convincing of makeovers, but then it didn’t need to be – they’ve simply given an already sporty car more sporting credentials.
Forget the boxy people-mover of days gone by – the new Scenic is something rather different. Described by Renault as an “apres-SUV” and designed for people who think SUVs are a bit ‘last year’, the new Scenic is a five-seat cross between an SUV and a hatchback. As such, its rivals are more or less limited to the Ford C-Max and VW Golf SV, but the Renault exudes far more cool than either of those roomy family buses. It backs that up by being a damn good car, too.
Peugeot 308 GTi
The French automotive industry is known for its comfortable saloons and practical superminis, but hot hatches have always been a part of the landscape. The normal Peugeot 308 – the one with a diesel engine and a boring paint job – is a very good family hatchback, taking the fight to the VW Golf, but the go-faster GTi version runs its German rival even closer. Customers can choose between 250 or 270 horsepower versions, both of which squeeze that power from a 1.6-litre engine that gives the car a fizzy, hustling character.
Main image: Joe deSousa/Flickr