10 Most Popular Cars in France (With Pictures)
France is one of Europe’s largest countries and one of the world’s largest makers of automobiles. But what kinds of cars do the French drive? Given their size and prominence in Europe, you might not be surprised to learn that the French buy and drive primarily French cars. Their market is completely different from the North American car markets.
Here are the most popular cars in France as of this year.
The data used comes from Best Selling Cars which is a data collection company that specializes in international car sales numbers. The list was compiled from their database, which ranked new car sales based on units sold in France for 2021. 2021 is the most recent data that has been compiled and verified.
If you want, you can also look at the number of overall registrations in France by brand. Looking at registrations by maker rather than by individual model yields slightly different results. Renault had the largest number of individual registrations, followed closely by Peugeot and Citroen. All three of France’s top automobile makers in terms of cars registered are French.
These are the ten best selling cars in France according to the available data.
Top 10 Most Popular Cars in France
1. Peugeot 208 II
The Peugeot 208 is a supermini sedan that topped the French sales charts in 2021. The car is an appealing mix of affordable, stylish, and energy efficient. The Peugeot 208 II began production in 2013 and has been a consumer favorite for years. This is the second generation of the 208, which began rolling off assembly lines in 2019. There are multiple engine options for the 208, including different amounts of horsepower, various gearbox configurations, and emissions levels.
In 2021, Peugeot sold an estimated 88,000 new units of the 208 II, which landed it at the top of the charts. Those 88,000 new vehicles represented roughly 5% of the market share, meaning that one in twenty cars sold in France in 2021 was a Peugeot 208 II. Not a bad showing for the French automaker.
2. Renault Clio V
The Renault Clio V nearly took the top spot on the 2021 sales charts but fell just short of the rival Peugeot 208 II. It is not surprising that the Clio V came in second place because it is extremely similar to the Peugeot 208 II. The similarity of the top two cars shows the French’s disposition towards economical supermini sedans. The Clio V is the fifth generation of the Renault Clio, which began production in 1990.
The current iteration has multiple trim packages, six engine options, including a diesel model, and the choice of four different transmissions. The size, affordability, and customization options make the Clio V an extremely popular offering. Renault sold an estimated 85,000 new units in 2021.
3. Peugeot 2008 II
The second-generation Peugeot 2008 (not to be confused with the 208) comes in third. This is Peugeot’s most popular SUV and the most popular SUV in France today. This subcompact hatchback has various options that appeal to a wide audience, including a petrol (gasoline) engine, a diesel version, and even a new electric offering that went on sale in 2020.
It is a five-door hatchback that continues to sit at the top of the sales chart in the European nation. The Peugeot 2008 captured 4.5% of the market share in France for 2021, giving Peugeot nearly just under 10% of the total market share for the nation.
4. Dacia Sandero 3
Dacia unveiled their third generation Sandero car in 2020, and it immediately became a hit. Dacia capitalized on the public’s demand for small and simple cars that do not add a lot to their monthly gas bill or to the environmental issues facing Europe. Dacia simplified their Sandero 3 and only offers three-cylinder petrol engines.
All of the new Sanderos come with I3 configurations. However, you can get a different trim package that can boost the horsepower from the baseline 60 HP up to nearly 100 HP. Dacia reeled in extremely healthy sales numbers in 2021 and sold over 72,000 Sandero 3s in France alone.
5. Citroën C3 III
The Citroën C3 is the third generation of the popular C3 model. The third generation was released in 2017 and got minor upgrades to its lighting system in 2020. The first C3s appeared in 2002, replacing the ailing Citroën Saxo. The Citroën C3 is a five-door hatchback that is manufactured in Slovakia.
The C3 has two options for petrol engines and two options for diesel engines. In 2021, Citroën announced it had sold over 1,000,000 third generation C3s worldwide and over 4.5 million C3s total. The car received a four-star safety rating from the European New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), which was better than its peers.
6. Renault Captur II
The Renault Captur II is an SUV based on the Common Module Family B platform (CMF-B). The CMF-B frame is the same base as the popular Clio V, which came in second on this list. The CMF-B frame was developed in partnership between Renault and Nissan and is also the base for the Nissan Juke.
Renault tried to make the Captur II more trendy and customizable. They launched the car with 90 different color combinations, including 11 different exterior body colors and 4 separate roof colors, along with multiple trim packages. Renault sold just north of 50,000 units of the Captur II in France in 2021. That means Renault sold over 137,000 units of their subcompact SUVs based on the same CMF-B frame.
7. Peugeot 3008 II
The Peugeot 3008 is the largest car on this list so far. The compact SUV is the larger version of the 2008 which landed third on this list. The second generation of the 3008 began shipping in 2016, and since then, it has racked up an impressive list of accolades, including Europe’s Car of the Year in 2017.
Since 2016, the Peugeot 3008 II has gained a large number of customization options. You can get the 3008 SUV with multiple gasoline engines, diesel engines, or an electric engine. You can choose from four separate transmission configurations, multiple color and style options, and trim packages. In 2021, Peugeot reported sales of 140,000 units in Europe for the 3008 II, and 50,000 of those units were sold in France.
8. Toyota Yaris
The Toyota Yaris is the first non-European car to make this list. It captured eighth place in total car sales in France for 2021. The Yaris is another supermini hatchback with a long track record of excellence. Toyota is the sixth biggest car brand in France and the largest non-European brand in the country.
The Yaris is on its fourth generation, which began selling in 2020. The fourth generation Yaris was only unveiled in Europe and Japan. The fourth-generation model was not put up for sale in the United States. There are multiple trim packages available, including one developed by Gazoo Racing, the GR Yaris. The latest Yaris is only available in the hatchback configuration in France, with the sedan model being regulated to Asia alone.
9. Dacia Duster II
The Dacia Duster is a subcompact SUV designed in partnership with Renault. The Duster II was unveiled in 2016 and began selling in 2017. It featured the same frame as the first-generation model but with upgrades throughout.
The latest generation brings the Duster into the modern age with a full camera system, an engine start assist for hills, hill ascent and descent assist, a fresh infotainment system, and keyless entry. Dacia sold over 30,000 Duster IIs in France during the fiscal year. The modern upgrades and the partnership with local Renault seem to be paying off for the Duster II.
10. Renault Twingo III
The Renault Twingo III is one of the smallest and oldest cars on this list. Twingo first launched in 1992 and is currently in its third generation. The first two generations of the Twingo featured just two passenger doors. The city car classification is the smallest size given to passenger cars in France.
Despite its tiny stature, the Twingo continues to sell well, especially in busy urban areas such as Paris. When the third generation Twingo was released in 2014, it won City Car of the Year in the UK. The latest iteration also received a four-star safety rating from NCAP, which is exceptional for cars of this size.
Unlike the United States, France features zero pickup trucks on its top ten best-selling cars list. In fact, pickup trucks do not feature at all in the 30 best-selling models in all of France for this year. Most of the cars on the top ten list are supermini hatchbacks. Four of the top ten best selling cars in France were SUVs, while the other six were small hatchbacks or sedans.
Supermini is the European designation for a subcompact.
In Europe, gasoline is referred to as petrol, and diesel is much more common for passenger vehicles than it is in the United States.
Nine of the top ten best selling cars in France were made by European companies. Only Toyota beat the trend in that regard. Seven of the top ten bestselling models were made by French companies. Dacia is a Romanian brand that captured two of the top ten spots, but they have been in partnership with Renault for some of their vehicles.
Peugeot featured three cars in the top ten, including two of the top three bestselling models in France. Renault also featured three models in the top ten.
No American cars are featured in the top ten. Tesla had the top American model with the Model 3, which ranked 14th in France in terms of sales. The second American car to crack the top 30 was the Ford Puma which snuck in at 25th.
Overall, the trends are completely different from those seen in the United States but are very indicative of a typical western European auto market.
The most popular cars in France are all small hatchbacks and crossover SUVs. French drivers value French cars, and they enjoy supermini hatchbacks most of all. Renault and Peugeot dominate France in terms of both sales and overall car registrations. France continues to be a world leader in automobile manufacturing and European car sales.
Featured Image Credit: ajgpforografia, Pixabay