Test drive Citroën Ami: made for the city

What is a ‘real’ Citroën? Of course, There are many answers to that question but the brand’s DNA includes ingenuity, original technical solutions and a quirky side. From that point of view, the Ami is indeed a real Citroën, in the tradition of the Goddess and the 2CV.

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The Ami looks like no other… It could have come straight out of Cars movie! False eyelashes and a mouth sticker are just what’s needed to make it more human.

A tiny four- wheeler for inner cities

The Ami One concept was introduced back in February 2019. The Ami is the car for grown-up teenagers, young city dwellers or… older, trendy people. However, whoever drives it, the city is its favourite playground. It slips in and out of the traffic flow, swallows the tarmac at 30 km/h without any problem and goes everywhere. Is it its friendly face? Its size? Its quirky shape and colours? In any case, it is a bit of a UFO in the urban landscape and never fail to amaze and surprize ! During our test drive, we were treated to many smiles and glances that were sometimes intrigued, sometimes amused but always friendly ! For the record, we were even followed and caught up by a scooter driver who was desperate to check the Ami’s interior.

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Front and rear are nearly identical… Body parts are symmetrical; it’s the shape of the roof and the headlights or lights that indicate which way the Ami goes.

Measuring just 2.41m long, 1.36m wide and 1.52m high, it weighs in at 482kg unladen and 562kg in running order. Its 5.5 KwH battery allows a 75 km range. Its maximum speed may be just 45 km/h but it’s more than enough for short city trips. A complete charge using a standard 220V socket takes only about 3 hours. An adapter is available as an extra and allows it to be charged on a wallbox or from a public charging box. The gearbox is clutchless and controlled via three buttons (D, N, R) located on the left, behind the driver’s seat (not the most logical or practical location, though…). Its 7.2 m turning circle allows easy U-turns in the smallest streets. Steering and brakes make do without any assistance. The steering is direct and very communicative, you could even say it has a Lotus feeling to it! Brakes use discs up front and drums at the rear. They are quite progressive and adequate for the Ami’s intended use. The suspension is rather stiff (no typical Citroën “floating” here) but is far from being uncomfortable.

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100% electric… it’s what it says on the tin! Admittedly, the Ami is a city car, limited both by its range and top speed (75 km and 45 km/h maximum), but it is easy and fun to drive, bringing a smile to the face of its driver as well as to passers-by attracted by its quirky look and colours.

Minimalism

The Ami gets back to basics… and features only what’s essential. Its original design emphasises symmetry: the doors are identical and open in both directions: from front to back on the driver’s side and from rear to front on the passenger’s side. The front and rear bumpers are identical, as are the side panels and the side windows. The entire bodywork is made of coloured composite panels that are easily removed and replaced. That aspect is also reminiscent of the Th!nk City, a Norwegian car produced between 2008 and 2011 (2,300 units only).

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This « airbump » is a nod to other Citroëns. You quickly get hooked and spend time looking for other references to Citroën’s history and tradition!

The Ami is both an example of Citroën’s spirit and tradition, as it interprets the TPV and 2CV concept highlights in a modern way . The typical Citroën touches are, of course, numerous: airbumps on the lower part of the doors, 2CV-style half-opening windows on the doors, visible crossbar and welds inside, the bag holder on the dashboard… or the storage set on the dashboard.  Its bottle holder is reminiscent of a baby bottle warmer and there’s a nod to the famous Lego brick on the right-hand side. No shortage of tricks to put a smile on your face! Everything is made from plastics, no piano black or fake carbonfibre… all the better for it.

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Just what’s needed and nothing else: the indicators and two simple circular headlights are used at the front.

Zen atmosphere

Once inside, the feeling of space is huge : the passengers are seated quite away from the dashboard, the driver seat being the only one adjustable in length. These are not uncomfortable, even though they are pretty basic and light. Another nod to the original Lotus Elise, with its 2mm thick seats and fixed passenger one! The glass roof can’t be opened, unfortunately.

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The basic interior is reminiscent of the 2CV. The dashboard is down to just one pod and your smartphone will do the rest: music, satnav… The orange strap opens the door and reminds us of a certain 911 GT3…

However,  it enlarges the passengers’ vision as well as improving the perception of the interior space. The lack of an adjustable shade and windscreen tinted top strip means sunglasses and/or a cap are compulsory when the Sun is out, though. Compared to a Renault Twizzy, the Ami offers its passengers complete protection from the elements as well as a more convivial side-by-side interior arrangement, instead of being seated one behind another.

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We love the front storage pack! The bottle holder looks like a baby bottle warmer, there’s a LEGO brick on the right… It’s original, fun and alludes to childhood with a definite « Fisher Price » feel.

The Ami‘s dashboard is also minimalist, of course. Apart from the display showing the charge level, speed and range, there is a single blower control, a USB socket for the phone and… that’s it! The interior handles are simple straps, a nod to the 911 GT3 this time… In front of the passenger seat there’s a 64-litre storage space. No real boot but enough for a few groceries, bags or even an airplane cabin-sized trolley. The Ami’s intended use is definitely not long holydays motorway journeys. A small space behind the seats also allows you to store jackets or soft bags.

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This hook is located in front of the passenger and prevents a handbag from moving around when driving. It’s just one of the many little details making the Ami a tempting proposal.

A complete range

Citroën offers four basic ‘My Ami’ packs in Blue, Grey, Khaki and Orange. These are even intended to be fitted by owners! Those old enough will remember that, back in 1981, Citroën introduced a limited edition of « 007 » 2CVs, at the time the James Bond movie « For Your Eyes Only » was released. They were sold with a fake bullet holes stickers’ sheet that owners could place wherever they wanted on their car, making it a truly unique one. The Ami gets you back to infancy with its unmistakable « Fisher Price » aspect… « My Ami Pop » even includes a rear spoiler and « My Ami Vibe » (Miami Vice?) gives it either a young, sporty and fun character or a posher and graphic one.

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The Ami’s seats are inevitably reminiscent of the Lotus Elise S1 ones… thin, plasticky, and only the driver’s one is adjustable. Some may even think that the passenger seat located well back, behind the driver, is a nod to Citroën rally cars! The gearbox buttons are located on the left of the driver’s seat. Accessibility is not always easy… then, you don’t have to fiddle with them all the time so it’s fine.

The Ami can be driven without a licence or, from the age of 16, with an A, AM or B licence. Priced from €7,690, the Ami is available in some of the brand’s dealerships as well as from Fnac shops! This new approach to marketing has even prompted Citroën to create tutorials allowing DIY- minded owners to carry out some maintenance operations themselves, through a partnership with Mister Auto.

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The half door window that goes up is a nice 2CV touch! True, it’s all or nothing, being either closed or wide opened, but it’s so quirky… and typical of the brand.

In conclusion, the Ami is a very fun and honest car, it does not try to deceive buyers about its real possibilities. Like all “real” Citroëns, either you love it or you think it’s hideous right from the start. However, one thing is for sure, it does not leave anyone cold and, we think it is a real Citroën, deserving a place in the brand’s hall of fame right from the start. (Text: Dimitri Urbain, pictures: Pierre Fontignies for Stellantis Belux)

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The Ami uses identical doors on both sides, they simply open in opposite directions!

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