Merger on! Here are 5 PSA vehicles we’d like to see in the U.S.
An FCA merger with PSA could give the French automaker a foothold in the U.S. — and us some interesting new vehicle options
An FCA and PSA merger would create one of the world’s largest automakers, pairing Peugeot, Citroen, DS and Opel/Vauxhall with all the brands that FCA has collected over the years. That includes Chrysler, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Lancia, Maserati, Ram and Jeep. Besides awkward rebadging exercises like the Fiat Freemont, which started out life as a Dodge Journey, the FCA brands have generally stood out of each others’ way. For example, we haven’t seen a Jeep Wrangler in Italy wearing a Fiat badge, which is already good news. And the Fiat 500X, based on the Jeep Renegade, has been a modest success for Fiat in Europe, if not in the States.
A possible PSA merger, first and foremost, would give the French automaker a foothold in the U.S., which it abandoned in 1991 when Peugeot left U.S. shores. Since that time, Peugeot has made periodic noises about a comeback, even bringing some 406 sedans to former U.S. dealers in 1996 and recently setting up an office in Atlanta. But it has always run into the same problem: the lack of a dealership network. A merger with FCA would likely solve that problem, hastening the launch of PSA brands in the U.S. a couple of years after the PSA announced plans for a North American comeback that would start with a car-sharing venture.
PSA likely won’t need to start with car sharing if it were to merge with FCA, but what could it offer U.S. consumers? Here are five PSA vehicles we’d like to see here if PSA and FCA work out a merger deal.
1. Peugeot 208
The 208 is the spiritual successor to the legendary 205 hatch, which Peugeot kept out of the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s. The Golf fighter was famous for its handling and power in GTI trim, and the new 208 hatchback is a nod to that classic model, combining a potent chassis with a relatively compact body, and reflexes to match.
Revealed at the 2019 Geneva motor show, the 208 debuted with a turbocharged 1.2-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine and a 1.5-liter four-cylinder diesel engine. These are small engines by North American standards, but the upcoming 208 GTI is expected to use a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder, good for 200 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque, paired with a six-speed manual transmission.
What makes the hatch even more appealing is that it’s also offered as an EV, badged as the e-208.
“With a 100kW electric motor and a 50kWh battery producing a range of up to 211 miles according to WLTP procedures, the all-new 100-percent electric Peugeot e-208 comes with three driving modes: eco, to optimize range, normal, optimizing comfort, and sport, allowing the driver to prioritize performance. The battery is covered by an 8-year, 100,000-mile manufacturer warranty,” the automaker says.
2. Peugeot 5008
Yes, Peugeot has a seven-seater in its lineup, and it’s the 5008. It’s also the largest SUV the brand offers, so it makes sense that it would be offered stateside if PSA were to return to the U.S., if only to please the expectations of American buyers. But this giant (by European standards, anyway) SUV doesn’t have giant engines: In Europe, it’s offered with a choice of 1.2-liter and 1.6-liter gasoline engines, both of which are reasonably quick, as well as with a choice of 1.2- and 2.0-liter diesel units.
“One look will recognize that the all-new Peugeot 5008 is a real SUV. All the hallmarks are there: long, horizontal bonnet; vertical face; and raised body line. The inspired design conveys power and respect,” the automaker says.
Engines aside, the more important factor here is the body style and the seven-seat layout, which is all the rage in the U.S. crossover market at the moment. You can bet that if Peugeot returns stateside, we’d see some version of the 5008 here as a crowd-pleaser, perhaps with beefier engines.
3. Citroen C4 Cactus
Sparked by an innovative concept car with soft exterior panels that resist dents, the Cactus has proven to be a popular compact crossover in Europe. The famous Airbumps, which used to line the doors of the first-gen Cactus, have shrunk to the bottom of the doors, but the small crossover hatch still retains its funky profile and the famous Citroen hydraulic suspension. Engines are still small, but Citroen’s 1.2-liter three-cylinder from one of the base models churns out 110 hp. If it’s enough for Europe’s autoroutes, it’s enough for U.S. highways.
“Citroën took inspiration from its technological heritage in terms of hydraulic suspension systems, reinterpreted this technical expertise and has now created a solution that is accessible to the greatest number of customers,” the automaker said during the debut of the latest Cactus. “New C4 Cactus is the first model in Europe to be equipped with the Citroën brand’s new suspension system with Progressive Hydraulic Cushion (PHC), and the first in the world to feature Advanced Comfort seats.”
4. Opel Crossland X
We know what you’re thinking: We just had a bunch of Opel models in the U.S. as Buicks. But Opel’s lineup back home is absurdly huge, ranging from sedans to vans to hatchbacks. (Remember hatchbacks?)
If Opel were to land stateside, the model most likely to make it here is the Crossland X, which is, (surprise!) a subcompact crossover. And it’s not some old GM platform: the Crossland X uses PSA’s architecture, shared with vehicles like the Citroen C3 and the Pug 2008. More importantly, it’s a small crossover, demand for which is still strong stateside, especially as demand increases for less expensive models. As the Crossland X is based on a PSA platform, the engines are still small, with base versions offering 1.2-liter three-cylinder units, but a 1.6-liter four-cylinder diesel engine is also on the menu in Europe.
For this to happen, PSA would also have to introduce the Opel brand stateside as a budget German car brand, but it wouldn’t have the “baggage” of being a French car. And that’s worth quite a bit in itself.
5. DS 3 Crossback
The DS brand is Citroen’s luxury division now, named for the classic DS sedan, and its offerings are a bit different from those of Peugeot and Citroen models. And the designs are pretty wild. If the DS brand were to make it stateside, PSA would be tempted to offer (once again) a large crossover, such as the DS7 Crossback, but the smaller DS3 Crossback would make a much more interesting offering with the body style of a compact crossover.
A 1.2-liter gas engine is the base powerplant, but the DS 3 Crossback is also offered with a 1.5-liter inline-four diesel — engines shared with much of the rest of the PSA lineup. A diesel probably wouldn’t make it stateside, but the small gas engines could be interesting, especially with their efficient gas mileage targeted at European markets where gas is still expensive. The DS brand would be a luxury offering stateside, but it would not be a performance brand — PSA just doesn’t have big engines in its passenger cars.
But there’s also an electric version of the DS 3, and that could be an effective selling point in the States.
“Positioned to compete in the Premium B SUV sector, DS 3 Crossback is both an urban car also at ease with long-distance journeys,” the automaker says.” It opts for spectacular technologies including DS Matrix LED Vision headlights, flush door handles that deploy automatically and fully digital instrumentation. These avant-garde features go hand in hand with a sense of refined comfort, a rich array of safety equipment and driver assistance functions with unrivaled acoustic excellence.”
What is the DS brand about, essentially?
“Its ambition is to embody, in the automotive industry, the French luxury know-how,” the automaker says. “Driven by its outstanding product heritage and avant-garde spirit, DS perpetuates the values of innovation and distinction inherited from the first DS, launched in 1955, and opens a new territory in the premium automotive market.”
Hopefully that clears things up.