New Citroen ami electric city car: specifications, UK-market details and test drive
The Citroen ami electric quadricycle has a 75% chance of being sold in the UK; we've taken one for an early test
DrivingElectric has learned that the Citroen ami – a pure-electric city-car quadricycle – could be set for the British market. Citroen UK managing director Eurig Druce gave the chances of the ami going on sale in the UK as "seven-and-a-half" out of 10, which bodes well for those on the lookout for their next urban runabout. The brand has even launched a website for potential UK customers to register their interest as part of its investigations into viability.
"We’re in discussions, of course, with head office in Paris about the possibility of bringing [the ami] to the UK and our intention in the next two to three weeks is to evaluate feedback from customers that they see with the cars here on home ground," Druce said.
Citroen is currently operating a small fleet of ami models in the UK, with Druce himself getting behind the wheel: “It’s huge fun – it’s for a certain purpose, of course, but it meets that purpose perfectly,” he enthused.
To keep costs down, the ami would most likely be available only in left-hand drive if it was brought to the UK, but Druce does not see this as an issue: "Because of the nature of the vehicle and the fact that it’s not a very wide car then it doesn’t really mean much of a difference – you don’t feel like you’re driving a left-hand-drive car when you’re driving around in traffic."
Citroen ami UK drive
To see if the Citroen ami is something we should get excited about, we took a trip to the company's UK head office in Coventry to get an early go behind the wheel.
As you might imagine, the ami is very small. Forget city cars like the Volkswagen e-up! or Honda e – the ami is closer in size to the infamous G-Wiz. The opposite is true inside, however; the ami’s wheels have been pushed right out to the corners so there's a surprising amount of space inside.
Space is one thing but quality is another: build quality is acceptable, but due to the ami’s intended purpose as an urban quadricycle meant for car-sharing users, the interior feels cheap and the materials hard. The passenger seat is fixed but the driver’s seat moves forward and back, so it’s actually surprisingly easy to find a good driving position. The Citroen’s seat bases are quite hard, however.
The two doors open in opposite directions; one is hinged from the front and the other from the rear. As mentioned, the wheels have been pushed right out to the corners for maximum interior room, while the standard panoramic roof further emphasises this feeling of space for the two passengers. To keep costs down, the side windows are opened and closed manually.
There’s no infotainment system – just a smartphone cradle on the dashboard – but there is a conveniently placed USB socket that allows you to charge your device on the go.
You can only recharge using the retractable three-pin plug hidden in the Ami’s door – a task Citroen says will take around three hours. That means there are currently very few charging options available for those without dedicated off-street parking; it’s not compatible with the UK’s public Type 2 connectors.
But on the move, none of this really matters. With its restricted top speed and short real-world range, nobody is going to be sitting in an ami for longer than an hour or so – meaning you can forgive its shortcomings. It’s slow, noisy and not very comfortable, yet it’s impossible not to drive around beaming from ear to ear.
Few cars, Ferraris and Lamborghinis included, generate so much attention. Even when you’re wrestling with its heavy, unassisted steering, you’ll notice people stop and stare, pointing at the ami with their cameras out.
Citroen ami on sale in France
Sales of the electric Citroen ami have already got off to a strong start in its home market of France, with the manufacturer saying 200 orders were received within hours of its sales website opening. All were processed online, with 85% involving some degree of customisation on the part of the buyer.
The cheapest lease plan for the ami starts at €19.99 per month (the equivalent of around £17.45) following an initial payment of €2,644 (£2,308). That includes a local subsidy of €900 – applicable whichever model you go for.
French buyers also have the option of buying the car outright, with prices starting from €6,000 (£5,238) including the €900 grant. A top-spec Citroen ami Vibe, with the graphic packs, coloured wheels and roof trims, costs €7,360 (£6,426). Insurance can be provided by Axa for €270 (£235) and every car comes with a two-year warranty.
In addition to that headline price, Citroen will offer the ami under its Free2Move initiative, whereby you can rent the 2.4-metre-long electric car for as little as 26c (23p) per minute. Citroen claims the ami “is for everyone” whether you need the car “one minute, to one year and more – to share, to rent or to buy”.
Citroen ami design
The ami is designed to offer maximum interior space with the smallest possible external footprint. Its boxy design gives plenty of headroom, while the large glasshouse should make for excellent visibility in and around town.
There are echoes of the original Citroen C4 Cactus at the front end, with separate daytime running lights and round headlamps. The same is true of the car in profile, where the firm’s designers have incorporated Airbump technology to protect the ami from parking dings.
Citroen says the ami is highly customisable and available in seven different ‘versions’. There are four main colours, which can then be bolstered by orange or grey accessory packs, as well as options like a smartphone clip or wi-fi dongle.
Arnaud Belloni, Citroen's global marketing and communications director, suggested that the ami will also be the basis of several special editions: "There is an enormous list of companies who want to work with [Citroen]," he told us. "The project is agile; it was born to add small limited editions very often".
While the concept featured huge 18-inch wheels, the production-ready ami sits on new, specially designed 14-inch wheels and measures 2.41 metres long, 1.39 metres wide and 1.52 metres tall. The total weight including the battery is 485kg.
With zero emissions, the ami should enjoy unrestricted access to city centres as low-emissions zones and congestion charges become more prevalent in coming years. In France, order books are open now, with Spain, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and Germany due soon.
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