In-depth reviews

Citroen Ami review

Citroen is only 75% certain that its ultra-compact electric city car will come to the UK, but in the meantime we thoroughly enjoyed our time bombing around the streets of Coventry in one

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
5.5kWh44 miles28mph3hrs (0-100%, three-pin plug)

Few cars, Ferraris and Lamborghinis included, generate as much attention as the Citroen Ami. While it's still not certain whether the French brand’s little bundle of joy will make its way to British shores, we were able to take the two-seat electric city car out on the streets of Coventry to see what the fuss is about.

Under the eye-catching bodywork is a 5.5kWh battery that provides enough juice to cover 44 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 infamous G-Wiz, or the Renault Twizy. 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.

For all those confused by the number of charging cables and connectors electric cars can use, rejoice, because you can only recharge the Ami using the retractable three-pin plug hidden in its door – a task Citroen says will take around three hours. The issue is that there are currently very few charging options available for those without dedicated off-street parking, as it’s not compatible with the UK’s public Type 2 connectors that are used for on-street charging points like Connected Kerb or Source London’s units.

However, Vauxhall’s sister brand Opel has recently launched its own version of the Ami, called the Rocks-e, which is available with an adapter for use with a charging point. If Citroen could offer a similar product in the near future, that would eradicate this particular shortcoming.

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. It’s also slow, noisy and not very comfortable, yet it’s impossible not to drive around beaming from ear to ear. We suspect it would find plenty of fans if Citroen does decide to sell it here.

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