After nearly 10 years and just over 200,000km, I gave up the ownership of my Peugeot earlier this week. 10 years of ownership, driving and daily use have given me lots of time to think about our experience with this car. More specifically, it's given me an insight in owning a French car.
Let me start by saying, in so many ways I really liked the car. REALLY liked the car.
For it's year and model it was quite simply the best diesel wagon we could buy. I was adamant that we'd get a diesel and I don't regret it... mostly. The fuel economy, even after 10 years of use, was better than most smaller cars. I do not exagerate one bit when I boast that it managed sub-6.0 litres/100km fuel economy over and over. Of course it needed to be driven carefully to do this, but it wasn't that hard.
We drove to Brisbane on ONE TANK OF FUEL, doing 5.4l/100km.
The boot area was 150% larger anything else on the market when we bought it. It swallowed huge amounts of luggage, car parts and music gear. It had lots of cool compartments to store tools and other bits. It was really, good to us. That said...
I'm never buying a French car again.
You might be shocked, but this is conclusion we came to. There are some good reasons for this. Let me list the big issues in the middle of all this...
1. French cars are famous for intermittent electrical issues, especially as they age.
Headlights, exhaust sensors, half the airconditioning, tail-lights, and of course a weird engine sensor issue that we're still yet to find a useful answer to. All were looked into by competent french car techs and specialists. The worst one involved being on holidays towing a camping trailer with the engine in limp mode and NO TAIL LIGHTS AT ALL = Holiday from hell. Even the local dealers could do nothing to help us.
2. French car parts of nigh on impossible to get through the regular channels.
A particular exhaust sensor took 4 months to arrive on our shores. Even the dealers were astounded by this issue and at a loss to know what to do about it. I needed new connectors for the headlights to replace the burnt out contacts. Yeahnah, not in Australia and certainly not outside of a dealership. What it comes down to is most of the parts are made in Viva La France. Good on ya France, but surely it should be easier to get them.
3. French car parts are a total rip-off through the regular channels.
ALL the parts were expensive. All of them. For instance, a new clutch cost $3500 (before installation). When my wife complained about my old beetle, I informed her my whole gearbox and clutch cost less. It's chock full of custom bits and hand built. Tail lights were $500 each after Peugeot designed the earth tag so it melted under load. Even after we found a specialist who has contacts that don't go through the dealers, the parts still cost a LOT of money. Starter motor, $600 installed. You get the picture.
I'm not hammering the dealers or our French car specialist. Both were very good to us and did their best to address all our issues. The dealers once replaced the whole steering wheel under warranty because the leather was starting to blister a little. Very good customer service.
Don't get me wrong, if I lived in the UK or Europe I'd love to own another Peugeot. I like their styling, motorsport program and aesthetic. I just can't live with a car I can't fix or get parts for without selling a kidney to terrorists.
Sorry, not again.