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Friday, October 3, 2008

If I were a Rich Frog- all day long I'd.....

Peugeot RCHyMotion4

Hall 1 at Paris is a bit like visiting Mars, dominated as it is by the French Big Three brand names Peugeot, Citroen, and Renault. They're not sold in the U.S., and they don't sell all that well in the rest of Europe so most of their offerings appear completely unfamiliar. So it's fun to pretend to be a patriotic Frenchman with no preconceived notions about or knowledge of cars and simply shop based on emotions. Might as well pretend to be rich, no?

My first stop was the Peugeot stand where the stunning low-slung RC HyMotion4 concept was twirling around on the turntable. So low-slung, it could compete with Aston Martin's Rapide sedan on looks alone (at least amongst rich French patriots). Sadly, it's not for sale.

Peugeot 607

The big Pug sedan that is for sale is the 607, which just looks way too conventional and boring both inside and out. This is France, man, vive la difference! And sacre bleu! 46,000 Euros with a lousy four-banger diesel? I don't think so

Peugeot 407

The 407 Coupe at least appeals to the eye, and a nice one like this goes for 47,000 Euros but at least packs a 2.7-liter diesel good for 28 mpg. (Remember these prices include the incredibly steep French taxes.)

Renault Ondelios

The Renault stand was an almost total disappointment. If I were patient, I might try to wait for something to come of the wacky Ondelios concept, which packs six bizarre LaZBoy recliners into a two-box shape that looks like it has a load in it's drawers. (The middle row is shown pushed back against the third row for max lay-back.)

Renault Laguna front
Renault Laguna Coupe rr

Renault has stopped making its quirky Vel Satis D-segment luxo-cruiser, so the best I could do here was the new Laguna coupe. Similar, slightly awkward new face as the rest of the Lagunas, but the rear saves it.

Citroen C5

There's much more to love at the Citroen stand. It's tempting to go straight for the top-of-the-line C6, with its concave rear glass that pays homage to all the great Citroen flagships of yore, but I was drawn to the more sporting new C5 Berline. Its steering wheel hub remains stationary, and houses controls for everything you use frequently, its dash features reconfigurable displays, the headlining is alcantara, it's just way cool. Prices start at $38K, but "mine" is $46K with a V-6 diesel and all the trimmings. C'est si bon.