Srinivas Krishnan: Is the new Citroën Ami a future classic?

The spirit of the legendary Citroën 2CV lives on in the new Ami. Is this the 21st century equivalent of the Deux Cheavaux? And is this a classic future? Srini certainly thinks so.

Once upon a time there was an ugly duckling. When people first saw him, at the Paris Salon in 1948, they laughed and insulted him. It was rather unfair to compare him to other beautiful swans who could take well-heeled people in exceptional comfort and speed. Quite simply because it was not designed for that, even though it was designed to meet extremely strict specifications. The Very Small Car (very small car) – designed long before WWII – was commissioned to replace the rural horse cart. It had to weigh less than 300 kilos, carry four adults, reach a speed of 60 km / h, deliver at least 20 km per liter, allow the farmer to drive with his hat, carry 50 kg of potatoes or a barrel , and that’s the killer specification – walk through a plowed field while carrying eggs, and most importantly, not breaking a single one. Sure, he was an ugly duckling, but he met those stifling demands like nothing else before or after. He would win hearts the world over for his rugged simplicity, clever engineering, never-say-nothing mind, and cheerful demeanor.

Do you think I’m doing too much? In 1958-59, two explorers around the world drove a 2CV on the ground to stop in the middle of the Atacama desert. The engine was out of oil. A native carrying bananas passed by and, on a whim, the adventurers peeled a few bananas and stuffed them inside the sump. And voila, the 2CV starts and rolls… Without incident for 300 kilometers more! This ugly duckling had absolutely no reason to turn into a beautiful swan.

Yes, the Citroën 2CV is a remarkable piece of world automotive history. I call it the “non-car”. This formidable innovation on four (thin) Michelin wheels now has a successor, and it is called the Citroën Ami. Successor, not in terms of replacing the legend, but because this back-to-basics spirit of innovation and engineering is now visible in the Friend. Compared to modern iterations of the Beetle, Fiat 500, Mini, and, lastly, the Countach, this isn’t a retro mobile that tries to evoke almost dead emotions and nostalgia. The new Citroën Ami is not a tribute to the original, nor a reinterpretation – it is an avatar that carries the noble spirit of its sacred ancestor.

Like the original, it’s also a non-car – technically a quadricycle, the Ami was designed around a new era of mobility that is rapidly unfolding in most parts of the world as we speak. . The Ami is essentially two doors on four wheels, and it’s hard to know if it’s coming or going! It’s built around a space frame that carries a 5.5kWh lithium-ion battery that takes three hours for a full charge from a standard electrical outlet. It offers a range of 70 km and, with 8 hp powering the front wheels, peaks at 45 km / h. With a super compact footprint, it still offers space for two tall adults with a bit of luggage space.

Combined with its remarkable turning radius, the Ami is a perfect fit on narrow city roads. The Ami was designed to offer a safe and weatherproof alternative to two or three wheels and to offer more flexibility and convenience than public transport. Citroën says that in the year the Ami was introduced in parts of Europe, customers included not only urban commuters, but also those in semi-rural or rural areas. It’s also an addition to multi-vehicle families for quick grocery shopping.

In terms of engineering, too, it’s smart. The body panels are all interchangeable, as are the doors. This means that one door is hinged at the back and one at the front! Like the original, the windows are divided horizontally and hinged upwards. Inside, too, there are a few smart touches. A single lever operates the wiper and turn signals, but the headlights are always on. Color customization is possible with removable media and storage locations. The way it’s built, financed and sold is pretty smart, with a commercial Ami Cargo version also on the way. The Friend could be a great inspiration for a 21st century Tata Nano.

Oddly enough, instead of riffing on Deux Chevaux or 2CV, Citroën named it after another classic in its heritage lineup – the Ami sedan, famous for its Z-shaped C-pillar profile. – to be the French word for a friend – am i – which proved irresistible for the car manufacturer to present its unique solution for micro-mobility. A friendly French revolution in a way.

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