First Drive

First Drive: Citroen Ami

The story:
Citroen is reviewing whether to bring its Ami small electric “non-conformist object” – it’s apparently not a car – to the UK as a mobility solution in urban car club rental or local business use.
Category:City Car
Key rival:Renault Twizy
Citroen Ami
Price:£6,000 (est)
MPG:Range: 43 miles
On sale:Possibly 2021

Not many test drives begin with a message from the manufacturer not to review it like it’s a car, but then the Ami is a bit different in many ways.

Citroen claims the fairest comparison is to look at the Ami as an alternative to a moped, Boris bike or underground train, in that it’s more of a mass-mobility solution than a car. The French company is currently assessing whether to bring the Ami to the UK, and has set up a website for expressions of interest, as well as bringing over a couple of cars to test the water.

First Drive- December 2020- Citroen Ami- Image 2The Ami is full electric and has an official range figure of 43 miles, as well as a 28mph top speed that means you have to be careful not to stray from low-speed urban roads.

It’s a two-seater of the most no-frills variety possible. There is a radio, if you option the Bose Bluetooth speaker that links to your smartphone, and the doors open via a tug on a fabric lever.

Everything has been designed to keep costs down, including the front and rear bumper being the same shape to cut down on repair parts and costs; ditto the doors. One opens conventionally and the other is a rear-hinged ‘suicide’ door so they can both be the same shape.

First Drive- December 2020- Citroen Ami- Image 3There’s no boot, but a decent-sized hand luggage suitcase will fit in the passenger footwell space. In France, the Ami is available for short-term hire on Paris streets via a pay-per-minute app, like a Boris bike. It can also be bought for 6000 Euros, or leased for 20 Euros per month. A similar set of arrangements is likely if the Ami comes here. It can also be driven by 16-year-olds in France.

To drive, the little ‘car’ is pretty crude, but is different enough from anything else to raise smiles, or at least second and third glances from everyone that sees it. The ride is a bit lumpy, but not as bad as expected, and it’s pretty noisy when you get to that sub-30mph top speed. Which stalls at just over 20mph uphill. But at least it means you can pretty much drive everywhere flat out without speeding! There’s plenty of visibility ahead thanks to the huge square glass screen, although the seats are built with durability in mind. Think bus seats.

As part of a city mobility solution or sign-written for food delivery or such similar very urban operation, the low cost of the Ami makes it seem pretty sensible. It’s sealed and has a semi-effective heater, so is big step up from the Renault Twizy, the only even remotely similar vehicle.

paul barker

The verdict

Ridiculous in a good way and fun, if not pleasant to drive, but you can’t argue with the ultra-low cost. Will only suit selected applications, but nothing else suits those applications quite as well.