Home Reviews EVs 2021 Citroën Ami: Speak ‘Friend’ and Enter.

2021 Citroën Ami: Speak ‘Friend’ and Enter.

The Citroën Ami is a unique quadricycle offering from France under the Stellantis umbrella. Though undoubtedly small and quirky, it has tremendous purpose within its segment and offers a surprising experience behind the wheel. When face to face with the new Ami, there is so much to take in, and you may be met with many potential questions. So let us take a look at the history and peculiar existence of Citroën’s new pièce de résistance, more or less.

History: Another One

Ami is the French word for ‘friend’, and this is actually the second iteration of the term used on a Citroën. The 1960s and 1970s featured the original Ami, an equally quirky car that was revolutionary at the time. Following in the footsteps of the 2CV, both Citroën and Renault had plans for a slightly larger and less rustic offering to appease more of the current mass market. The Ami arrived, with more power, bigger dimensions, and more capability. It was actually nicknamed the 3CV due to it being too large for the prior 2CV nomenclature. It was also a pioneer of new technology, including the first headlights to be oblong-shaped rather than the standard circular headlights of decades past. In fact, this was illegal in the US for the first 10 years of its existence, as circular headlights were mandated by law.

The modern Ami has reverted to the opposite direction from the original. Instead of going larger still, akin to the rest of the world’s love for CUVs and the like, the new Ami is now a microcar of sorts. Very little is shared with the original Ami aside from the name and perhaps the same quirky mindset tied to its existence. Now fully electric and adhering to quadricycle standards, it attempts to pioneer further in this unique form of mobility. 

Design: Rotational Symmetry

What is rotational symmetry? The Ami is symmetrical in a different way from most cars, having the front and sides being identical as rotated around the central axis. It is perhaps a unique choice of design, but it is furthermore an opportunity to keep its cost down and simplicity maximized. The driver door opens antagonistically, akin to a Rolls Royce “suicide door”, with the passenger door opening in a standard fashion. This allows both doors to be identical parts with even the hinges and affix points being shared. Similarly, the front and rear fascia are also identical, with only the lights being exchanged. The front features headlights and turn signals, while the back has taillights and reverse lights. Other than luminance, the only way to immediately tell the back from the front is via the roof curvature and extended rear window, effectively giving somewhat of a spoiler design on the back, though I can’t imagine it is functional. The door handles are matched with the opening of the door, so the driver will look to the front of their side of the car, while passenger reaches for the rear.

Inside the surprisingly spacious cabin, you’ll find an adjustable drivers seat with a statically mounted passenger seat. The dashboard is far from the seating position, providing ample space for both passengers. We felt that it provided a more spacious feeling than many larger cars, especially with the windshield being so far forward. There is also a large glass section in the roof, allowing for plenty of light to enter the cabin from all angles. You will find no exterior openings for luggage or otherwise, so there is a bit of room behind the seats accessible from the cabin. There is also space for luggage in the passenger footwell, even designated by an image of luggage to remind you of its capability. 

The windows open by hinging in half rather than retracting into the door. This allows for a slim door, maximizing interior space, and pays homage to the Citroën 2CV windows at the same time. The front window has one small wiper blade. The design is marvelously simple, and you have to admit the convenience of replacing body panels that have multiple uses around the car. Instead of sourcing a “driver side door”, you simply find a door. Ironically, the new electric Ami reverts to the concept of circular headlights. But that perfects the character of the package, giving the Ami personality, inside and out. 

Performance: Single Digits

That’s right. The Ami amasses a whopping 8 hp from its electric motor. A 5.5 kWh battery pack is built on a 48V system and sends power to the front wheels via belt drive from the 6 kW electric motor developed by Valeo. Top speed is 28 mph as limited by quadricycle rules, and the range is roughly 47 miles. In our drive, it was actually chip-tuned to an impressive 15 hp and top speed of nearly 50 mph. The regenerative braking is capable of the same input as its output, allowing for excellent deceleration with throttle lift-off. 

Technically, it is quite slow. But the point of the Ami is not to set miniature land-speed records. It is a vastly simplified existence of a car. In a world obsessed with 0-60 times, Citroën shows off a vehicle that won’t even approach those speeds. A unique factor of the Ami is the fact that 14-year-olds can drive it, and if you were born before 1988 you don’t even need a license to operate it. Weighing in at approximately 1,000 pounds, give or take depending on battery installation, it is nimble and useful for many city-dwellers. The wheels are, as you guessed, also very small with 14” diameter and 155 width tires. 

The charging cable is hidden in the passenger side door near the door handle, a strange but functional location for it. Charging on a 230V house outlet will generate 80% battery in roughly 3 hours. Overall, performance is not the best word to pair with the Ami, but it can be an enjoyable ride nevertheless. Kyle took the tuned variant around the streets of Las Vegas and felt that anything less powerful might be disappointing to most. That being said, the standard 8 hp model still holds its own against a bicycle or other micromobility. 

Conclusion: Best Friend

In part, what’s not to love? We sometimes need a mental reset in the world of growing complexity on vehicles. Some offer incredible ADAS systems and self-driving, others bring augmented reality to the driver’s seat. And then there’s Citroën, returning to the roots of a simple vehicle that moves forwards, backwards, and turns on a dime. There is no infotainment or audio system of any kind, perhaps forcing you to interact with your passenger or your own thoughts. The door pulls are reminiscent of a Porsche GT3 RS, and the seats have holes like the carbon buckets of a BMW M3 Competition. Yet the Ami stands on its own, creating a unique experience in city commuting and turning heads at every corner. It may not hold a candle to the performance or prowess of the aforementioned comparisons, but it will likely give you a reason to glance back as you walk away from your parked Ami, your friend.

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