Bring Back The French Lion

20160601_101822Last month I was assignment in Bavaria, Germany.  I had a few days off to myself, so I made the most of my time by seeing as much as I could within the confines of Germany.  It was unfortunate that I was unable to trot through the Czech Republic being that I was so close to the border, but nevertheless, there was plenty to see.  The two major cities I visited were Nuremberg and Munich.  Both offered plenty of sights to a nomadic tourist, such as myself, with a curious eye and a thirst for some unique brews.  Bier Fest in Nuremberg offered some fine selections of local brands to recommend, but be advised that German beer packs a heavy punch, so allow yourself time to sober up or find a designated driver.  The architecture anywhere in Bavaria is magnificent.  Gothic style cathedrals line the streets of Munich and the famous medieval castle in Nuremberg offers incredible panoramic views of the city.  At the ground level where the once was a moat that encompassed the castle is where the Franconian Bier Fest is held.  For me, though, it wasn’t just highly potent German beer and Schnitzel that turned me on to Deutscheland, but the one thing that would arouse any car guy: the whips!

On my day off, I rented a Peugeot 2008 to take me down to Munich for some sightseeing.  The vehicle is classified as a compact SUV, otherwise known as a Crossover, but in my opinion there should be a new classification for its type.  It’s not an SUV, because you don’t feel like you’re in a Tahoe.  It’s not a compact car, because you don’t feel like you’re driving a Mini, and, not for nothing, it gets better mileage than one.  It averages almost 60 miles per gallon on the two gasoline powered engines and almost 80 on the diesel.  These numbers are staggering and I can’t help but wonder why the Peugeot hasn’t returned to the US market and will it ever return at all.  I hope so, and soon.

Peugeot SA made the decision to pull out of the US market in 1991 after sales plummeted to a mere 4,261 the year before.  Though Peugeot, Renault, and Citroën continued to thrive in the Mexican market, Japanese automakers were proving to be far more desirable in most of North America.  NAFTA had also made it easier and more affordable for the American manufacturers to make a comeback in their own market.   Simple, economic cars like the Ford Escort were proving to be reliable transportation that saved consumers money at the pump.  The French were forced to forfeit and exit like the evacuation from Indochina.  But could a return be foreseeable?  I don’t see why not.

The Peugeot 2008 handled smoothly and swiftly down the autobahn.  Between the city streets and the highway I was averaging over 50 miles to the gallon from Vilseck to Munich.  The whole trip was about 3 hours each way and I made it on less than half a tank.  At nearly 1.5 Euros a liter, it became obvious to me why the kind rental agent spoke so highly of this unit that she and upgraded me to free of charge.

The vehicle offers a roomy cabin.  It could easily serve the needs of an American mom with the two pre-adolescents and the sack of soccer gear in the back.  The 2008 will also stand out in the field parking lot among the crowd of Sedonas and Caravans. The Peugeot 2008 has a starting price of about 13,000 Euros, which equates to around 14,600 USD.  That’s about seven thousand dollars less than the Fiat 500X I had on loaner last year.  The French seem to have redeemed themselves and, in doing so, proved to me that they can not only stand a chance in the US market again, but perhaps lead in the numbers.  Si’l vous plait…Come back soon, Peugeot.


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