Bugatti isn’t the only French brand that can conjure a fast car

Normally the subject of French performance cars is spent with the mention of Bugatti models, which for decades have been making some of the fastest and most exquisite road-going cars in the world. But what if we have to think about fast road-legal French cars that aren’t from that brand? Believe it or not, there are more than a few such examples, ranging from mass-produced compact sports cars to quirky exotics with a very limited production run.

Peugeot RCZ-R

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The Peugeot RCZ is a compact front-wheel-drive sports car based on the 308 model. The car was assembled in the Magna Steyr factory between 2009 and 2015. The facelift came in 2013 and with it the most powerful version – the RCZ-R. It used a 1.6-liter turbo-four petrol engine, like the rest of the petrol versions. However, it now produced 270 horsepower at 6,000 RPM and 243 pound-feet (330 Nm) at 1,900 RPM. Power was sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual.

With a curb weight of 2,822 pounds (1,280 kg), the RCZ-R was able to hit 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.5 seconds on its way to 155 mph (250 km/h) top speed.

Read our full review on the Peugeot RCZ-R

Aixam Mega Track

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Here’s a weird one. It’s not the first time we’ve talked about the Mega Track. Upon its introduction in the early 1990s, it stretched the definition of a supercar and what I can be considered one. To this day, the Mega Track is the only production supercar with actual off-road capabilities. It had a minimum ground clearance of 8 inches (203 mm) which could be adjusted up to 13 inches (330 mm). It was rear-wheel-drive only, but that didn’t stop it from going off the asphalt. The car was wider than a Hummer H1 and had a dry weight of 5,027 pounds (2,280 kg). Power was sourced from the M120 6.0-liter Mercedes V-12. It produced 389 horsepower ad 5,200 RPM and 420 pound-feet (570 Nm) at 3,800 RPM. This allowed the behemoth to hit 60 mph in around 5.6 seconds on its way to 155 mph (250 km/h).

Read our full review on the Aixam Mega Track

Alpine A110S

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If the previous entry was a heavyweight, this one is at the other end of the scale. The successor to the original A110 1600 S weighs just 2,443 pounds (1,143 kg). At the same time, the 1.8-liter engine in the A110S develops 288 horsepower at 6,400 RPM and 236 pound-feet (320 Nm) at 2,000 RPM. This allows for a 0 to 60 mph sprint in just 4.3 seconds on to a top speed of 163 mph (263 km/h). Power goes to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The new A110 is one of the best examples of how a classic car would look if it had been introduced today.

Read our full review on the Alpine A110S

Alpine A610 Turbo

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The A610 could be considered the flagship of the Alpine brand back in the day. Unlike the A110, it still doesn’t have a modern successor. Despite being an evolution of a 1980s model, the A610 held up rather well. Its quirky exterior design made it quite distinctive. The same held true for the interior. The most notable layout was the rear-mounted engine, just like in a 911. This meant the car could seat four people in relative comfort.

The A610 Turbo used a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 with 2 valves per cylinder.

The PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) unit was good for 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet (350 Nm). This gave the French coupe a 0 to 60 mph time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 166 mph (267 km/h). Power went to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual.

Venturi 300 Atlantique / 300 Atlantique Bi-Turbo

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Venturi is a Morocco-based automotive company that focused on making GT cars. The emphasis was performance, but also luxury. The 1995-2001 Atlantique 300 was one of their most notable cars. It was a successor to the Venturi 260 Atlantique from 1991.

The 300 featured a 3.0-liter SOHC turbocharged V-6 with 278 horsepower at 5,300 RPM and 310 pound-feet (420 Nm) at 2,500 RPM.

This was enough to propel the mid-engine GT to 60 mph in around 5.0 seconds, on to a top speed of 173 mph (279 km/h). In 1998 came the Atlantique 300 Bi-Turbo. It now featured a DOHC valvetrain and two turbochargers. This resulted in 306 horsepower and 291 pound-feet (394 Nm). The sprint to 60 mph was now possible in 4.5 seconds and the top speed was 167 mph (268 km/h).

Aixam Mega Monte Carlo

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Monte Carlo is the other high-performance model of Aixam’s sub-brand. Unlike the Mega Track, the Mega Monte Carlo is meant for on-road use only and does not boast any off-road capabilities. It does share an engine with the Track, as it’s powered by the same 6.0-liter Mercedes V-12 with 389 horsepower and 420 pound-feet (570 Nm).

At 2,859 pounds (1,297 kg), the Monte Carlo is significantly lighter than the Mega Track, which makes it a lot more athletic.

The sprint to 60 mph (97km/h) happens in around 4.2 seconds and the top speed is 187 mph (301 km/h). Power goes to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.

Venturi 400 GT

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The Venturi 400 GT was produced between 1995 and 1997. It was a road-going version of the Venturi 400 Trophy competition car, which was based on the tamer 260 Atlantique.

In order to stand out, the 400 went balls-out with the styling, utilizing an aggressive body kit, with a lower front fascia, accommodating a large air intake, larger wheels, large air vents behind the doors, and a big rear wing.

It was powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 with 24-valves. The unit produced 402 horsepower at 6,000 RPM and 390 pound-feet (530 Nm) at 4,500 RPM. With a curb weight of just 2,425 pounds (1,100 kg) the car could hit 60 mph (97 km/h) in just 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h), despite the big rear wing. Power was sent to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual.

Peugeot 907

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This one is a bit of a stretch, as the 907 was a concept car that never made it to production. However, the one prototype they made was fully functional and road-legal, so it counts. The car was meant to show what a Ferrari competitor from Peugeot would look like at the time of its unveiling in 2004. The car featured a 6.0-liter normally aspirated V-12, mounted behind the front axle. The engine was essentially two Peugeot ES9 3.0-liter V-6 units merged together. The result was 500 horsepower and 443 pound-feet (600 Nm). Different sources claim different performance figures, but the 0 to 60 mph sprint is said to be in 3.7 to 4.0 seconds, while the claimed top speed is 222 mph (360 km/h) after removing the 180-mph limiter.

Read our full review on the Peugeot 907

Monte Carlo Automobile (MCA) ALA50 Stradale

11 Fast French Cars That Aren't Bugatti
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This one comes from an obscure brand based in Monte Carlo, Monaco. The company built its first car in 1989 using a Lamborghini powerplant. In 1995 the company was bought by Aixam Mega Group – another French car company. About two decades after their first car they revealed the MCA ALA 50 Stradale.

Two generations, from 2009 and 2014, were made.

The first uses a 4.5-liter V-8 with 650 horsepower. The 2014 model used a 6.0-liter W-12 twin-turbo engine producing 750 horsepower 578 pound-feet (783 Nm). This allowed for a 3.2-second sprint from 0 to 60 mph and a top speed of 350 km/h. Power went to the rear wheels.

Citroen GT / GT by Citroen

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Some might recognize this last entry from the Gran Turismo game. The car was actually developed by Citroen together with Polyphony Studio, which developed the Gran Turismo game.

The car was unveiled at the 2008 Paris Motor Show and despite its futuristic looks, six road-going versions are said to have been built.

We know for a fact that there is at least one road-legal version roaming around. Each of the six cars is said to have a price tag of $ 2,100,000. For such a price it better pack a serious punch. And packed it did! The real-life version used a 5.4-liter Ford V-8 with 646 horsepower and had a curb weight of 3,086 pounds (1,400 kg). The gearbox is a seven-speed sequential. Some sources claim a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.4 seconds and a top speed of (211 mph) 340 km/h.

Read our full review on the Citroen GT / GT by Citroen

Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read More
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