First Drive: Citroën Ami
Trading on a name from years gone by, Richard Gooding finds that everything about Citroën's new all-electric city star owes nothing to the past
What is it?
Discovering its electrification mojo, Citroën has embraced the arrival of electric and plug-in hybrid cars with great speed. As well as introducing products to capture more mainstream markets such as the new e-C4 and C5 Aircross PHEV, it has, true to its heritage, created something a little more individualistic with the Ami. A city car that's technically not a car at all, the Ami is a light quadricyle which can be either bought or rented by drivers as young as 14-years-old without a driving licence.
Already on sale in France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Germany, the green light is yet to be given for the UK, but if the tiny Citroën was to arrive on British streets, drivers would need to be 16-years-old and be content to sit on the 'wrong' side to drive, as there would be no right-hand drive version. Providing strong competition for Renault's Twizy, a commercial version is on sale from June.
What range does it have?
Powered by a 6kW electric motor and 5.5kWh lithium-ion battery as tiny as its exterior dimensions, the Ami can travel up to 44 miles on a single charge.
How long does it take to charge?
With its integral domestic plug tucked into one of its door apertures, the Ami takes three hours to charge from a 220V socket. Citroën states that it can also be plugged into a public chargepoint or wallbox.
How does it drive?
Striking enough in how it looks, the Ami is also arresting in its tiny size. Just 2.41m long, 1.39m wide and 1.52m high, the little 'car' is like nothing else on the road. Its plastic body keeps the Ami light (485kg with battery) and to reduce build costs, the doors are identical on both sides – the driver's door opens from the rear, the passenger's has a conventional rear-hinged opening. Full of quirky details, the front and rear panels are the same, too, with only the lights differentiating them, and fold-up windows echo those on that other Citroën mass mobility icon, the 2CV.
Inside, while there's no escaping the Ami's utilitarian roots with a largely plastic interior, there is some style. Different brightly coloured dashboard inserts, accessories, door straps and pockets bring colour to the cabin, and a smartphone cradle and USB port are practical touches. The My Citroën mobile app can be accessed via the car's DAT@MI connected box and shows information such as range, battery status and time remaining for a 100 per cent charge. Nearby public charging stations can also be located.
The Ami may be classed as a quadricyle like the Renault Twizy, but it feels much more like a car, due to its more conventional car-like structure, doors, and the fact that two people can sit side-by-side. With 50 per cent of the total body surface being glass, the Ami can get very hot, but the 6kW motor gives good pace, and possessed of an agility that makes it a hoot to drive, the Ami certainly attracts attention. A tight 7.20m turning circle is ideal for scooting about the city, the natural home for a vehicle like this.
What does it cost?
Drivers can choose to buy or rent the Ami in the European countries where it is already on sale. In France, the Citroën is available to buy from €6,000 including VAT, which translates to an approximate UK price of £6,000. Long-term rental starts at €19.99 per month for a 10,000km (6,200 miles) contract, with an initial payment of €2,644 including VAT needed, too. The Ami is also available on the Stellantis Free2Move car-sharing scheme, currently priced from €0.26/min (subject to a monthly subscription of €9.90 with no commitment).
Four Ami models are offered, beginning with the Ami Ami. More exterior and interior style is added with the Ami Orange, Ami Khaki, Ami Grey and Ami Blue, with further personalisation offered with the Ami Pop and Ami Vibe.
Available from €6,490 in France (including the €900 Government ecological bonus deduction), the Ami Cargo can be rented from €24.18 per month, after a deposit of €250.43. With a payload of up to 140kg, and a maximum load capacity of 400 litres, the Ami Cargo light commercial features a seven-part cargo module, a folding table and secure smartphone storage, as well as a driver/cargo partition, and an adjustable floor.
Why does my fleet need one?
Appealing to goods and services fleets operating in cities, as well as drivers who don't need to own a car, we can see applications where Citroën's new city star would work very well, especially in Ami Cargo guise. Ideal for last-mile delivery and shuttle services, the tiny, cheeky Citroën would also win many friends on municipal, resort, and ecological organisation fleets where its zero-emission range would be enough and charging would be easy. Small in stature but big on personality, Citroën UK is taking expressions of interest for the Ami at bit.ly/3yqfrXV.