In-depth reviews

Citroen Ami review

Citroen’s ultra-compact electric runabout has serious shortcomings compared to a 'proper' full-size car, but makes for an intriguing urban transport solution nonetheless

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Pros

  • Fun to drive
  • Attention-grabber
  • Surprisingly spacious

Cons

  • 44-mile range
  • Slow, unassisted steering
  • Not particularly comfortable
Battery sizeRangeTop speedCharging time
5.5kWh46 miles28mph3hrs (0-100%, three-pin plug)

Few vehicles, Ferraris and Lamborghinis included, generate as much attention as the tiny, two-seat Citroen Ami – an electric 'quadricycle' in the same vein as the Renault Twizy or the notorious G-Wiz. And now, after much pleading from the British public, the French brand has confirmed its ultra-compact electric city car will make its way across the channel in 2022.

Under the eye-catching bodywork is a 5.5kWh battery that provides enough juice to cover 46 miles on a charge. The battery feeds an 8bhp electric motor powering the front wheels, which will push the Ami all the way up to a heady 28mph. As a result, there's no such thing as a 0-62mph time for the Ami, but with just 458kg to shift, the 2.4-metre long car has decent performance and no issues getting up to its severely limited top speed.

As you might imagine, the Ami is very small. Forget city cars like the Honda e, MINI Electric or Fiat 500 – the Ami is closer in size to the aforementioned Twizy or G-Wiz. But inside, it's surprisingly spacious, as Citroen has pushed the wheels right out to the corners, so there's a decent amount of space for occupants.

In terms of compromises, the Ami’s biggest is interior quality. It's just about acceptable, with cheap, hard materials common in the cabin; even the seat bases are quite hard. However, we wouldn’t expect Mercedes S-Class levels of quality from an electric quadricycle that'll spend most of its time doing short journeys in cities, and costs as much all in as some options packs for the S-Class anyway.

In France, the Ami is available from as little as £5,200 after a government grant, or €19.99 per month (the equivalent of around £17.45) to lease. Citroen also offers the Ami under its Free2Move initiative, whereby you can rent one for as little as 26c (23p) per minute. Because of its classification as a quadricycle, the Ami can be driven from the ages of 14 and up without a license in some European countries. If it does come to the UK, anyone older than 16 with a provisional license will be able to have a go. So we’ll excuse its below-average interior for the access it can provide people to environmentally friendly personal transportation.

Interestingly, 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 occupants. To keep costs down, the side windows are opened and closed manually, and 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.

There’s no infotainment system – just a smartphone cradle on the dashboard like you get on the entry-level version of the electric Fiat 500 – but there is a conveniently placed USB socket that allows you to charge your device on the go. You also get a very simple digital driver’s display that provides vital information like your speed.

The Ami we drove was in European specification and so could only be recharged by means of a retractable three-pin plug in its door – a task Citroen says will take around three hours. While those confused by the variety of charging points available might celebrate this simplicity, the issue is that it doesn't really work for those without dedicated off-street parking, as it’s not compatible with the Type 2 connectors you'll find on the majority of UK on-street charging points, such as those from Connected Kerb or Source London. Thankfully, when the Ami comes to the UK, it’ll get a Type 2 adapter, so drivers will be able to use the majority of public charging points – or even a home wallbox – when they need to top up the battery.

It must also be said that on the road, the Ami provides a fairly mixed driving experience. Refinement isn’t its strongest area, as road noise is amplified throughout the compact cabin and the ride is fairly bouncy. The steering is also unassisted and so is quite slow, heavy and vague overall. 

However, the Ami is also a huge amount of fun, with its tiny dimensions and 7.2-metre turning circle making it exceptional around town. Its small size and little bodywork to impede visibility mean it's easy to place on the road; you're able to exploit gaps in traffic and park like something on two wheels, not four.

The Ami hasn’t been designed to conquer continents or tackle race tracks; it’s made with city driving in mind, and we also don’t expect many people will be sitting it for too long – especially given its 44-mile range. While it's slow, noisy and not very comfortable, it’s impossible to drive around it without grinning from ear to ear. We don't know for sure if the 12,000 people who registered interest in the Ami will sign on the dotted line when the little Citroen arrives in 2022, but it’ll certainly find lots of fans.

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