Citroën Ami: Affordable urban mobility
Discover EV expert verdict...
- Cheap to buy and run
- Easy to drive
- Car-like protection against weather
- 46 mile range
- Low top speed
- Only charges up to 2kW
Back in September last year Citroën announced that the AMI would be available to buy in the UK as of spring this year. Fast forward to the end of summer and it still had not been launched – but it wasn’t for want of trying on Citroën’s part, with two major factors holding their planned launch back. The first issue was the possibility of being hit with a post-Brexit customs tariff because AMI is built in Mexico – that took nine months to resolve, and the second problem was with DVLA, whose website states for a vehicle to qualify as light quadricycle it must have an unladen mass of not more than 350kg – the Ami weighs 458kg! They obviously got round that as it can be driven with a 'Category AM' driving licence. In the words of PR Manager Mason Finney during the Citroën AMI update at the UK media launch, it was a “long and rocky road to get here, but worth it”. And we have to agree. Affordable and accessible, the AMI could change urban mobility for good.
The aim of said launch was a “celebration rather than a test drive”, and with the majority of media in attendance haven already driven the AMI in Coventry almost two years previously, it was no doubt a bit of a PR stunt, too. So rather than following a suggested route as is the norm on press events, journalists were given an iPhone with a specially designed treasure hunt app which saw teams of two zip about the UK’s capital answering questions and rising to challenges while visiting iconic tourist spots to gain points. It was the perfect way to show off Ami’s quirky side, but my partner and I were rather reluctant to take part in some of the tasks (such as Careoke or pull people off the street to spell out the word AMI), and so predictably we finished last! Still, we maintained our dignity and focused on Ami’s ability to navigate the busy roads of London.
As it turns out, it’s really rather good at it – for several reasons. Firstly, its size: Ami is 2.41m long, 1.39m wide and 1.52m high. This means you can squeeze it through virtually any gap – and in narrow clogged streets this proved invaluable. It almost felt like we were on a bike but with the added benefit of being in an enclosed, comfortable and protective space. I tend to drive defensively in London – with taxis and buses undercutting everyone, and vans competing for limited road space with cyclists, motorbikes and cars – it’s the best way, and the Ami made this type of driving a doddle! My partner and I were pulling off some ambitious moves and getting away with it – whether that’s because they’re not on the roads yet and thus a novel sight, remains to be seen!
It’s so small, you can park two nose to nose and it’s the same length as a car, and if the parking bay is big enough you can park nose-on into the kerb! How’s that for opportunistic parking? You can also use that tiny on-road footprint to nip into gaps that don’t exist for other vehicles! For the first time in 20 years, I enjoyed driving in London!
It’s also got an incredibly tight turning circle, which at 7.20m is smaller than a London taxi. In any city this is a major boon, allowing us to u-turn in the middle of the road – the Highway Code was obviously adhered to at all times! Compact and agile with a high seating position it is perfect for navigating busy streets as well as fit into tight parking spaces.
What else do you need to know? It is capable of speeds of up to 28mph, so perfect for cities where the average traffic speeds are around 20mph – or even villages. It’s smooth and silent drive makes for a stress-free experience, and it offers great all-round visibility. Above that – you start to feel very vulnerable and piss off other road users.
Downsides are its left-hand drive… although Citroën have put a PR spin on that saying it ‘allows the driver the benefit of exiting the car kerbside’, and the ride is very firm with limited suspension travel. The truth is even before the battle of getting it launched in the UK, Eurig Druce – Managing Director Citroën UK – admitted we weren’t even meant to get Ami. It was only because of the effort of the PR team drumming up 12,000 expressions of interest from potential British buyers as well as 2000 reservists (despite an unknown price tag) that the French car maker decided the car should cross the channel. It’s the reason why it comes with an adapter for type 2 charging stations, too. While we’re on the subject it’s also annoying that the charging cable needs to be manually fed into its storage hole within a recess behind the door.
Range and running costs
With prices starting from £7695, Ami is available to test drive and order from Citroen’s online showroom (featuring a 360° visualiser and digital brochure), alternatively it can be had for just £19.99 per month with a customer deposit of £3192 on PCP, over 24 months (via a Ami participating retailer or authorised repairer), making it a very attractive offer indeed. We know it’s not a car but when you consider the cheapest car on sale is £12,250 (Kia Picanto) if you do live in the city and it was your only ‘car’ it’s very good value.
Furthermore to celebrate the launch of Ami in the UK, Citroën has partnered with charging provider ubitricity, to provide the first 2000 UK customers three months of free charging across its network of more than 5400 kerbside charge points.
Service packages (between two and five years), covering routine servicing, maintenance, and extended vehicle warranty, battery warranty and extended breakdown cover (depending on chosen length) are available from just £10.81 a month and includes a 10,000 miles per annum limit.
The 5.5kW battery provides a range of 46 miles and recharges in just three hours, and while it doesn’t come with a granny charger, there's nothing to stop you buying an aftermarket adapter and plugging into your domestic socket at home, to make it even cheaper to juice – we found a few UK suppliers who offer an aftermarket adaptor, just don’t expect Citroën to officially endorse this who are covering their backs on case whatever you source isn’t safe.
In terms of insurance group for the Ami – there isn’t one as it’s not a car remember. Basically, each insurer takes its own view because it falls outside the scope for a normal passenger car. The DVLA’s stance is you must have third party insurance so you’ll probably need to find specialist insurance cover.
There’s no denying it turned heads in the city – in fact we felt like quite the celebrity! A friend said it looks like how a kid would draw a car, and we have to agree - it’s cute, quirky and we love all the little curious details – from the manual side windows which flip to hinge upwards like the iconic 2CV to the suicide-style driver’s door outside (so that the panels are identical on both sides of the car ), the Duplo-esque inserts in the storage areas and the fabric door pull cords in the inside.
The cabin contains little more than two seats, a steering wheel, digital speedo and simple heater, so customers will probably be tempted to enhance their Ami by adding one of three Colour Packs: Orange, Blue or Grey, which can all be fitted at home. Each pack comes with colour-coded wheel trims, rear pillar decals, three colour-coded dashboard storage boxes and bag hook, exterior door capsules, two door storage nets and black floor mats with colour-coded trim. In addition, all colour packs add a separation net between the driver and passenger foot wells, a smartphone cradle for the dashboard and the DAT@AMI connection box that allows customers to access key vehicle information.
Through My Ami Play and Citroën Switch, owners can access more features such as navigation or radio, and make calls, with the smartphone doubling as an infotainment screen. Coupled with the optional Ami Bluetooth speaker, which like the phone slots into a specific place in the dashboard, drivers can enjoy all of their media via the aforementioned control unit, which can be positioned wherever they choose, to ensure ease of use.
Comfort and practicality
Having previously driven it alone it was good to know that there’s enough space to comfortably accommodate a driver and a passenger. Despite its two seat configuration – the Ami is really quite practical; there’s storage behind the seats and in front of the passenger’s legs, certainly more than enough room for a decent weekly shop. Over our two hour test drive we found the seats very hard but your average Ami customer is not going to spend that long behind the wheel.
Standard specification includes a digital speedometer, LED front and rear lights, a panoramic glass sunroof (which incidentally makes the cabin feel nice and airy) and a USB charging port. As previously mentioned Ami is available in a choice of variants, My Ami Colour (Grey, Orange and White priced at £400) and two higher trim levels offering even greater levels of customisation: ‘Ami Pop' and ‘Ami Tonic’.
Ami Pop combines the Orange Colour Pack with black trim on the front face, lower front and rear bumpers, and around the rear lights, as well as a black rear spoiler and orange decals surrounding the door capsules featuring a number ‘2’ design and costs £8495.
Ami Tonic is priced at £8695 and features new headlamp bezels, inspired by sunglasses, and a new khaki and yellow colour scheme with bespoke wheel trims as well as decorative roof rails. It also features ‘+’ and ‘-’ interior stickers on the A-pillars to highlight its electric nature. The yellow detailing can be inside, including the door pulls, bag hook and the two front panel recesses, which contrast with khaki accents on the dashboard storage bins and door net surround. Yellow directional arrows are used in a fun way to guide passengers on how to use features such as the door handles and windows.
For businesses carrying out short distance or last-mile deliveries, My Ami Cargo is offered in a single specification, priced at £7995. In place of the passenger seat, My Ami Cargo features a modular storage area that can be configured for a range of business needs. This consists of a modular upper surface (featuring a unique ‘mobile office’ layout), a divider between the driver and cargo areas, a modular cargo floor with two positions, and a lidded box in the rear creating 260 litres of storage space. Coupled with the interior storage already present on-board, My Ami Cargo offers a total load capacity of 400 litres.
A real breakthrough from Citroën, Ami is a great response to the challenges faced in today’s urban environments. It is exempt from Congestion and Ultra-low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) charges, and with other cities looking to introduce similar measures, AMI is a future-proof solution. It’s a great alternative to a motorbike, scooter or e-bike, as well as small cars and a solution to everything you hate about driving in cities – from parking to cutting through congested streets and pollution. It’s cheap to buy and run, easy to park and drive and as long as you remember it’s a quadricycle – so it won’t go faster than 28 mph and it has restricted space and range – then it’s a charming answer to city mobility. The Ami isn’t for everyone, but it does appeal to a wide audience – from generation Z who stand out for climate change activism and can’t afford a car, to families who want a second vehicle to do the commute in and car collectors who fancy something quirky in their garage. If the Ami fits your needs, there’s nothing out there that rivals it.
2022 Citroën Ami
Price (RRP OTR): From £7695
Top speed: 27.9mph
0-27.9mph: 10 seconds
Power: 8bhp (6kW)
Torque: 625Nm (at the wheel)
Driving range (WMTC): 46.6 miles