The press release for the new Citroën E-Mehari open-top runabout is positively awash in upbeat adjectives — descriptors like stylish, sassy, confident, incomparable, stress-free. And to look at it, such optimism seems well-placed. This lumpy, lovable resort car, which launches in France next spring, is a 21st Century riff on the French carmaker's beloved 1968 Mehari utility vehicle, itself a variant of the indefatigable 2CV people's car. But while the original Mehari seemed cobbled together from construction-site remnants, the E-Mehari is a fully formed thought. The bulbous body — which owes much to Citroën's weird and wonderful new C4 Cactus crossover — is crafted of tough thermoformed plastic, offering a subtle nod to the original Mehari's corrugated sides in the doors.
If you think the car looks familiar, you're right. The E-Mehari is a (more appealing) variation on another French fun car, the Bolloré Group's breezy Bluesummer. Like Bolloré's cerulean runabout, the E-Mehari's powertrain is electric, fed by a bank of lithium metal polymer batteries. These dry cells boast impressive energy density and a notable insensitivity to weather — important for an electric car that would not be out of place in Saint-Martin or Bora Bora.
The E-Mehari has a top speed of 68mph and a cruising range of 125 miles — ample when you consider that, for instance, the island of Bora Bora has just 19 miles of roads and a 48mph speed limit. The battery pack will recharge in as little as eight hours.
The front wheels do the driving, but the E-Mehari's boosted ride height means that within reason, off-pavement excursions — following the uneven to Gouverneur Beach on the island of St Barths, for instance — are not out of the question.
Colour, no surprise, figures prominently in the E-Mehari experience. Buyers can choose from four dramatic hues (along with a defiantly un-dramatic beige), matched to black or orange-red roof panels. Interior fabrics, available in beige or orange-red with a gnarly print, are waterproof, and the floor can be hosed clean, à la the Jeep Wrangler.
Want more? Immerse yourself in Citroën's frenetic promotional video for the E-Mehari, complete with twerking, black light and a cascade of upbeat adjectives, if you dare.
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