Watch: The appeal of Peugeots in Japan - Peculiar, fancy, and French?
CY Foong · Mar 10, 2023 02:20 PM
Japan has a very healthy domestic automotive market though it is very protected much like its neighbour South Korea and in some ways, Malaysia. Foreign brands aren’t very popular among Japanese car buyers but they have an air of class since many are often purchased by the wealthy.
Head out of Tokyo and into the famous Daikoku Parking Area (PA) in Yokohama and you might also encounter some rare gems aside from the usual supercars and wild, modified JDMs that either have a star-shaped exhaust pipe, some anime waifu decals, extreme camber, or all three at once.
So, the Peugeot 308 might fit right in the streets of Japan. The French hatchback does not look odd like its older peers and in fact, it's pretty. It’s a shame that there are no plans for the latest generation of the 308 to enter Malaysia because it just looks so damn fine.
The French Lion is a foreign-looking brand even among Japan’s wealthy buyers who didn’t really mind if their Western import has the steering wheel on the left. Yet, it still has its fair share of fans as this video by Top Gear can attest.
At the end of the video and with the help of Google Translate, it seems that what draws French cars like Peugeot to a Japanese enthusiast is the Frenchness of the car. It’s the whole quirkiness in essence that is seen more on older classics like the Peugeot 405, Renault 4, or Citroen 2CV; some of which inspired some interesting JDMs of the past 30-40 years.
Nevertheless, modern French cars are more practical and in some ways, sensible to drive but they don’t seem to have lost those quirkiness. Even if the brilliant 308 is never offered here, you can sense some of those peculiar Frenchness in Peugeot’s locally-assembled (CKD) SUVs, the Peugeot 2008, Peugeot 3008, and Peugeot 5008.