Containment in a Citroën Ami

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Citroën Ami, act III. After his presentation in Nanterre in February 2020 then our first test in Paris last August, I thought I had toured the Citroën Ami. Nay: many questions remained in me, the biggest of which is undoubtedly: what is the point? I used the 10 km allocated by our dear President in this umpteenth confinement to try out the experience of everyday life behind the wheel.

We are at the beginning of April, on the Stellantis production site in Poissy. "Here it is. I suppose I have nothing to teach you about the car? ”, The Citroën fleet manager tells me, handing me the keys. Indeed, I am beginning to know the beast, if only by its exposure to the Fnac closest to my home. But circling around and drinking in just about every article and forum about the Friend hasn't quenched my curiosity about him. Who is it for, what is its use? The period being conducive to teleworking, I took refuge at my parents in my second home, ideally located less than ten kilometers from the said factory, in the north-east of Yvelines. The land: a set of cities, sometimes dense, sometimes not, of suburban neighborhoods and extra-urban roads to connect everything. Let's go.

A new interesting environment to explore as a Friend. Firstly because, following my test last August in the heart of Paris, I had agreed with myself that the Citroën really did not add anything to the hyperdense fabric of subways, buses, RERs, bicycles. , scooters, scooters and many other things already present in the capital. In my little corner of Yvelines, on the other hand, a car is pretty much vital on a daily basis: shopping, going to class, to sport, to your friends' house and so many other everyday things are quickly unlivable if we refer to it. only to public transport, while bicycles and scooters quickly admit their limits in terms of practicality, versatility, comfort and safety. I am convinced of it: there is a gap to be filled and it seems to me to be within the grasp of the Friend.

Let’s take a seat. You unlock with a key, the opposing door opens, welcome aboard. Driving a Mini on a daily basis, I must admit that the Ami's driving position is, to say the least, astonishing: you sit high up, your back straight like an I, with a steering wheel very far and very tilted – it goes from Obviously, the latter is absolutely fixed, the only adjustment available to us being the forward movement of the seat. Second surprise, we have the impression of being seated far back in the cockpit: the almost vertical windshield is completely out of reach of our little mimines, which is surprising given the size of the beast. We understand better suddenly the interest of the glass roof which allows to have a minimum of visibility in height …

For the rest, it is always astonishing to compare the size of the Friend to any other rolling object. I don't think my Clubman is a street monster, but the Citroën seems on a different scale: with its 3.28 m² of floor space, finding a more compact four-wheeler is a challenge. Yes, we will find well my adored Renault Twizy with its 2.88 m², but its two places in tandem still place it in another category. The globally limited photogenism of the little Citroën is certainly atomized by the absolutely unbeatable sympathy of the Twizy, but it allows itself to be infinitely more practical than the Renault, if only by its completely closed interior.

But hey, it's time to leave the parking lot. We start with the second key (yes, as in a Bugatti, there are two keys to use the Friend), a small beep indicating the animal has woken up, we select the Drive mode at the seat of the seat and let the music. The first event, in the form of a superb departmental 70 km / h, awaits me as soon as I leave the factory. I set off and the first kilometers per hour are reached with a certain liveliness (we stay on something of 8 hp and 40 Nm of torque, let's not get carried away) … before the Citroën cuts all the throttle once arrived at 45 km / h. I would be curious to know the performance of the beast once unleashed – even if I'm not sure I want to go much faster than the initial speed, the direction being a blur hard to believe. So … we wait, and we pray that the drivers behind don't take too much on my downline. Note all the same that the small windows opening "to the 2CV" are in the ideal position to put your elbow -windows which I forgot to test a very practical function: can you grab a bag of fast food to take through that little opening?

Let's continue on the “performances” part with a small downside: it turns out that my corner of Yvelines is quite hilly with, in climax, the Hautil massif and its coasts close to the 10% that made me see all the colors on the bikes of my youth. And the Friend is frankly not a fan of these slopes, since, despite a valiant attack on the first few meters, the speed systematically collapsed as the ascent progressed, only making me reach high speeds. less than 20 km / h. I can fully understand that this kind of situation did not occupy an important place in the drafting of the specifications … but all the same, less than 20 km / h what. I got to the top faster by bike… All the more so as the Friend played a similar trick on me by once again cutting off all power, but this time in a rising false-flat, which is all. even more disturbing. In his defense, the car was cold and had spent the night outside in freezing temperatures, but it still borders on dangerousness. Not crazy.

What else to tell you ? The Friend turns out to be, to my surprise, quite honestly comfortable. Let's not get carried away: suspensions with progressive hydraulic stops typical of the brand are far from present and the driving position is difficult to accept but, compared to the absolute woodcut that is the Twizy, the Citroën makes the effort of a minimum of foresight for our backs. Also keep in mind that the operating times of the device should not often exceed 30 minutes to reach this conclusion: it does the job.

Come on, we embark on an electric classic: the battery part. If the commercial brochure says a range of 75 km, I think I can do around 65 km in perfectly normal driving. Be careful, however, if you turn on the heating: after a seven-kilometer journey with the heating / demisting activated, the computer told me that I had lost 15 km of autonomy. The Friend has an argument of its own: its 5.5 kWh battery requires only 3 hours on the mains to be totally recharged, which means you should be able to get by with not much more than 2 hours of charge per day. And that is still practical.

Practicality, well, let's talk about it: the louloute is still damn practical. I had already realized this last August when I had brought Gonzague and his folded bike (the bike, not Gonzague) into it, but shopping on it is totally playable, even if the latter are substantial: two water packs fit easily behind the driver's seat and three large shopping bags fit easily into the passenger's feet. Let’s end this chapter with the most official announcement in the world that driving a Friend when you are 2.07m tall is no problem. Difficult to make more roomy!

Seven days and 180 km later, it's time to give up the Friend and conclude. Did I manage to find a use for it? I think so. In fact, I will use an expression already used a few paragraphs above: on a daily basis, the Citroën Ami do the job. Its minimalism is both its greatest strength and its biggest flaw: to drive the Friend is to go on a sort of low-tech excursion. While all manufacturers are rushing to present electric cars with screens everywhere and billions of kWh of battery that will only be useful for 0.05% of the trips made on board, Citroën offers a basic solution to a basic problem: how to get around as simply as possible in a peri-urban environment where the car is compulsory. L’Ami is here and offers, for a low price, a no-frills transporter that is sufficient for running errands / going to school / going out at night / going to friends. Do we need a lot more every day?

Photo credits: Jean-Baptiste Passieux

I'm on Twitter: @JBPssx

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