Peugeot and Renault do have fast cars, some of the quickest hot hatches on the market in fact. But the truth is, most people just favour cheap running costs over performance these days. A lot of Europe is plagued with high fuel prices, taxes and urban traffic, most people have the common sense to realise and average speed of 4 MPH is the same in a big car as a small one
No such common sense in the US. Marketing and car reviewers have convinced the people that 0 to 60 in less than 10 seconds is slow. A friend's old V6 Camry is in the same acceleration bracket as the classic pony cars available when he came of age, and I'm not referring to the base stock Mustangs and Cameros.
The common sense in US marketing is to make money for the share holders etc. - Its up to each individual to use the best tool for the job (which doesn't always happen)
I would think that marketing in other countries may be the same unless companies in other countries try to lose money for their shareholders I know in Canada companies make money because my investments are going up.
For buying a car I believe a test drive of different manufactures is still the best tool, but always surprised that most people in the US do not test drive several cars prior to buying. Canadians are also starting to buy without driving as well, lured by low interested costs and whether or not their phone will work
Just came back from a short trip and even the Versas tried to get up to 100KM in less than 10 seconds when leaving the ferry