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buying advice

Going continental: 4 French and Italian motors that are surprisingly reliable

The brands ditching the ‘style over substance’ stereotype.

THAT NOTION THAT French and Italian cars bring with them a world of unreliability has been going for years.

Certainly, there have been models in the past that frequently suffered chronic mechanical issues, but tarring an entire nation’s automotive output makes little sense these days.

After all, with collaborations between various manufacturers, along with the sharing of platforms and parts, cars of all origins are increasingly safer and more roadworthy.

Here’s a look at some French and Italian brands that are more ‘ooh la la’ than ‘quelle dommage’…

Renault Kadjar (2015 onwards)

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This stylish five-seat crossover has quickly become a popular choice in Ireland, and it’s easy to see why. Its curvy lines add to the Kadjar’s appeal, and it has a good amount of presence, appearing larger than it is.

Along with that higher driving position, there’s a roomy interior and a 472-litre boot. Under the skin is a lot of the same technology as the hugely successful Nissan Qashqai, the car that defined the crossover segment. You can choose between a front or all-wheel drive – the former is more common in Ireland.

Citroen C1 (2014 onwards)

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The French have a long history of building small cars, and the C1 is the smallest of its current output. A 2014 revamp means the C1 no longer resembles the Porg from Star Wars it once did.

This current generation is one of a set of triplets that also includes the Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo. While each of the cars has its own styling, mechanically they’re all identical, and most of the hardware was developed by Toyota.

Fiat 500 (2008 onwards)

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Not only has the Fiat 500 sold in significant numbers both here across the rest of Europe, it has also gone some way to improving the image of Fiat. The brand’s modern take on a design classic made for a new generation bambino that’s won plenty of design and tech awards.

The cute supermini is good to drive and makes navigating towns a cities a cinch. This car also served as the basis for the previous Ford Ka. As it reaches its tenth anniversary, Fiat has worked on keeping the car fresh, with newer models gaining improved infotainment systems.

Fiat Fullback (2016 onwards)

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Fiat’s range of commercial vehicles already included passenger versions like the Qubo, but with the pickup segment becoming increasingly popular, the Italian brand wanted in on the act.

Rather than going to the hassle and cost of developing its own model, it joined forces with Mitsubishi to create its version of the Japanese company’s L200.

More: Looking for a great family hatchback? 3 must-see models that often get overlooked

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