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

  • 46-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 recently discounted Renault Twizy or the notorious G-Wiz. Following huge public demand, the Ami is now on sale in the UK, with first examples of the ultra-compact city car due to arrive later this year.

From the outside, it looks like some sort of futuristic phone box on wheels. Under the bodywork is a more modest setup: a 5.5kWh battery that's sufficient for a 46-mile driving range on a charge. Driving the front wheels is an 8bhp electric motor – good enough to get the Ami up to a heady 28mph. So you can forget about a quoted 0-62mph time, but as it weighs less than 460kg, the 2.4-metre long vehicle has decent performance around town, despite that severely limited top speed.

In case you haven't figured it out by now, the Ami is very, very small. Forget city cars like the Honda e, MINI Electric or Fiat 500 – the Ami is closer in size to the aforementioned Twizy and G-Wiz. But on the inside, it turns out to be surprisingly spacious, as Citroen has pushed the wheels right out to the corners, so there's a decent amount of room for occupants to stretch out.

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.

The Ami starts from just under £7,700, which is considerably more than we first expected, but Citroen will lend you one for as little as £19.99 per month. So we’ll excuse its below-average interior for the access it can provide people to environmentally friendly personal transportation. However, it’s worth noting you need an AM moped licence or a full driving licence to take the Ami out for a spin, as a provisional licence isn’t sufficient in the UK.

Citroen is also offering a range of customisation options for customers who want to make their Ami stand out even more. These include £300 ‘colour packs’ that add either orange, blue or grey decals, trim and wheels, as well as two pricier trim levels called Ami Pop and Ami Tonic. They both add unique touches to the ultra-compact EV, but also raise the price to £8,500 and over.

But, it’s not just the styling of the quirky quadricycle that catches people’s eyes. For starters, all Amis sold in the UK are left-hand drive, probably to save cash, but this does mean you can exit the vehicle onto the pavement rather than into traffic. The two doors also 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 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 or even any speakers in the cabin, just a smartphone cradle on the dashboard and USB socket that allows you to charge your device on the go as part of the optional colour packs. You do at least 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 European two-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, every Ami sold in the UK will also come with 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 46-mile range. While it's slow, noisy and not very comfortable, it’s impossible to drive around it without grinning from ear to ear. Plus, with Citroen receiving more than 2,000 pre-orders from Brits so far, the little Ami has clearly found lots of fans already.

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