Citroën Ami: Autos Community Editors’ Car of 2021
It has its lovers and haters, and while I belong to the first camp, I have to admit that the danger of knowing that it could be a big flop in many ways only adds to its appeal. I am, of course, talking about the oh-so-polarising Citroën Ami, the most ridiculous yet charming vehicle to have come onto the market in recent times, and possibly one of the most significant because of its singular purpose.
To cut a long story short: This would-be Dinky Toy has eight hp, a top speed of 28 km/h and room for two people. Technically, it is a four-wheeler, not a car, offering much less impact protection.
It is so dedicated to the art of reductionism that its door handles are made of fabric cords, and one of the doors is hinged at the back so that the panels can be replaced sideways or forwards and backwards.
Often you will be peering through the window and looking for the steering wheel to guide you so that you are getting in on the wrong side and facing the wrong direction.
And so, in many ways, the Yank looks and feels like what its price tag (around £6000: £2500 plus £20 per month or 25p per mile) suggests. (Although some rational souls will argue even here that you could have many used cars for those figures).
But the point is not the hard plastic, the cramped conditions or the low top speed. The fact is that all this is wrapped up in something more than the sum of its parts, quirky, witty and unadulterated in design, charming enough to make you smile, and with a sense of distilled utility (short city jumps) that it delivers with oodles of fun but really without frippery. Nobody needs a Yank – but many of us want one.
Whether that’s enough to sustain sales success remains to be seen. The initial enthusiasm certainly seems to be there, as does the lateral thinking to broaden that appeal (modifications range from turning it into a self-driving Boris Bike to adaptations to make it a micro-van for zero-emission last-mile deliveries), but many a niche vehicle has still fallen.
I think the Ami embodies all that Citroën is about, and I hope the Citroën Ami has just enough success that I will not be able to afford a used car in a few years.
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