Limited series of 50 copies
No longer for sale…for now
Received with some skepticism, the Citroën Ami has nevertheless achieved great commercial success, since it has sold more than 20,000 units in less than two years. Contrary to what one might think, it is mainly sold not in the city but in the countryside, where it attracts people who do not have (or no longer have) a driving license. Wealthy parents also like to offer it to their children, because they consider it much safer than a two-wheeler. Its reasonable price for a car without license plates, its spicy design and its reassuring shield helped it a lot, but it was above all its concept that seduced. In fact, it offers two beautiful seats side by side in a closed cabin, which opposes it to the Renault and its tandem seats.
In December 2021, citroen presented the Friend buggy concept, announcing that it would be limited to 50 numbered copies. Also, when the sales site opened in July, everyone left instantly despite a €2,000 higher price than the standard Ami, or €9,790.
Pay more to do without the doors, replaced by simple metal flaps reminiscent of gondola doors, it works! We are also entitled to a removable roof, in the form of a hood that we roll up, as in a 2CVin addition to a specific decoration: gold rims without hubcaps, khaki paint, large roof spoiler… Impressive!
Mechanically, that does not change: 8.2 CV, 5.5 kWh battery, 45 km/h maximum, 70 km of autonomy. Being a quad, the homologation standards are much more flexible: without ABS or ESP, without airbag, without central mirror…
This makes it possible to contain the selling price, which is much lower than that of a Twizy, as well as very clever manufacturing: for example, the front and rear faces are almost identical, which limits development and manufacturing costs. Speaking of manufacturing, Citroën is not ruling out relaunching production of the Ami Buggy. Think if you plan to buy a second-hand one for €25,000…
On the way: no, rather in the city
Joe the taxi, doesn’t go everywhere… El Amigo doesn’t either. She has no right to drive in car lanes, not even on the Paris ring road. No problem, we tried it in Le Touquet, in cool weather (17°C) but under beautiful sunshine. I was hoping to reproduce Jean Yanne’s driver’s license sketch (those under 40 won’t know) while envisioning the cramped cabin. Actually, on board, two big guys settle in without embarrassing each other. The impression of space is even surprising for a 2.40m long vehicle! It must be said that we sat almost glued to the rear window, so the windshield seems very far away. We shouldn’t have to defog it with a rag…
This is not likely to happen with the Ami Buggy because it is open to all winds due to the absence of doors. You pull the tab, the door opens, and you sit on (and not on) a seat whose discomfort is reminiscent of the wooden seats on Sprague-Thomson subways. Next, we appreciate the well-thought-out driving position. We turn the key, a beep sounds, we press button D, to the left of the seat, and… we start. The push is not violent, but enough to fit perfectly in urban traffic. We got to the promised 45 km/h pretty quickly and kept it uphill, even after a good lunch. Then, when it comes downhill, you press the N button, which shuts off the motor, and you can hit 50 km/h. Vertigo of speed!
Visibility is excellent, you can see all the dangers ahead, unless they appear behind the Ami – the mirrors are too small. For its part, the direction is quite well calibrated, so it is fast and light enough, but without ever compromising the stability of the vehicle. In addition, we are entitled to an ultra-short turning radius.
Road retention? Or rather street clothes… Salutary and not surprisingly, the Citroën remains firmly planted on its wheels pushed back at all four corners of the chassis. No unexpected tendency to roll over (which happens on cars without license plates), slight understeer at the limit. It behaves like a well-designed mini-wheel drive, and if you want to have fun, you can always pull on the handbrake (very effective), on a closed track of course. Even the braking is convincing, because it is powerful enough and easy to dose.
As for the suspension, it jumps but honorably filters irregularities, while reducing body roll. Only, again, the hideously hard seat manifests itself by hurting your butt. Does Citroën announce 70 km of autonomy? Impossible to check all at once, we have the compote base long before!
In any case, the Buggy is intended only for short trips along the coast, and exudes tasty sensations of the great outdoors. So what does it matter if the turbulence invades it, it’s made for that. It doesn’t matter if the metal fins rattle as much as they can, we won’t stay aboard for long. What does it matter if the support of the smartphone and the scratch pas… Ah non, ça c’est ennuyeux : on a peur de perdre son terminal quand la voiture passe sur une grosse bosse, voire de se le faire voler par une main rapide quand on est at the stop. It must be said that the Friend attracts curious and benevolent glances.
Last point, in our copy, the instrumentation block was poorly arranged and unreadable because its screen was totally lacking in brightness. Overall, the machine doesn’t seem that built to last. Perfect for teaching crafts to teens!