It became known that the budget two-seat electric car Citroën Ami is planned to be sold in the UK.
Estimated base price starts at £ 6,000.
Now let’s find out what kind of miracle electric car is.
This is a Citroën Ami, and it is not a car, but a large electric quadricycle that can be driven by 14-year-olds without a driver’s license in some European countries. This means that performance is limited to a top speed of 28 mph and a range of just 43 miles.
It might make sense that UK regulations require you to be 17 years old and have every right to drive such a car here. It’s also worth noting that Citroën’s UK arm is still weighing whether it should be up for sale, although the avalanche notoriety it has attracted to date suggests it is likely to be.
In this regard, the Ami represents an ongoing advertisement for many of the values that Citroën has sought to emphasize in its recent attempt to stand out from the crowd. This is certainly very different, and is undoubtedly a fancy alternative approach to getting around in cities increasingly dominated by e-bike and e-scooter rentals. But, of course, he’s also polarizing – in our experience, his appearance alone is both enchanting and intimidating in equal measure.
However, his ingenuity cannot be denied. There is room for two plus luggage, although it is noteworthy that for all the Dinky Toy’s attractiveness and thoughtful design, at 2.4m long and 1.4m wide, it is not much smaller than the Smart ForTwo EQ or even four-seat competitors such as Fiat 500 and Volkswagen Up. In fact, the Renault Twizy is even smaller. The exterior panels are swapped front-to-back and side-to-side to reduce manufacturing and repair costs, and its nifty features include a three-pin charging cable tucked away inside the door frame.
European prices suggest it will cost around £ 6,000 in the UK. Most likely, people will drive on a rental scheme, paying a deposit of around £ 2,500 and then a weekly rent of around £ 20, or a short-term rental for 25p a minute or so.
Controlling this masterpiece
Any rational assessment of the Ami must be balanced by its price and its intended use – this is a sane way of saying that any “traditional” car driver will find their driving experience to be severely compromised in many ways.
The driver’s position and controls, from the pedals to the steering wheel and handbrake, are as you’d expect (electronic gear selector to the side of the seat), but the Ami’s performance is inevitably rudimentary.
Its electric motor only develops 8 hp, so it’s not fast. The relatively light weight and instant availability of that power means you can still get out of intersections in the city with relative ease, although you’ll soon find this 28mph limiter.
How restrictive this seems depends on where you are driving. We found this to be normal in a congested city and in many emerging areas at 20 mph. On the 30 mph road, however, it was hard not to feel uncomfortable, and on the 40 mph road, you feel unprotected.
The visibility is amazing though. You are sitting high, surrounded by windows, and you have a good idea of where the corners of the car are. The steering is direct enough to make the Ami alert, and bumping into and out of traffic is no problem. Sharp maneuvers are easy too: the tiny 7.2m turning radius makes it easy to handle even the most difficult situations. Its length (or lack thereof) allows for front or rear parking on curbs. We took a learning driver at Ami and they found its simplicity tempting.
Riding is inevitable, but not terrible, if you remember to avoid big potholes and pimples. However, noise from the road (both from tires and from comments from other road users) is significant.
Interior and salon
Access is via a key lock that you turn and then push hard. It’s funny that the driver’s door folds back so that the same doors can be used on both sides of the car to keep costs down. As with the exterior, the minimalist character of the interior is offset by the charm of its design, which is at least partly inspired by Duplo, Lego bricks for toddlers.
The fact that you open doors by pulling on straps of durable material, rather than having anything as obvious as a handle, gives you an idea of how the design was used to reduce the number of parts and therefore cost.
The Ami is unusually spacious given its compact size, and because you sit high and upright, it is quite easy to sit comfortably in. Storage space is limited to a small cave behind the seats and ample space in front of the passenger’s feet. Combined with the vehicle’s height and multiple storage compartments in the doors and in front of the dashboard, it allows you to carry an amazing amount of items.
Visibility is good too, although 2CV-style semi-open windows that are horizontally split and can be tilted up can make you feel claustrophobic.
The presence of a thin metal frame around you – unlike the ones you put up for a tent – underscores the safety trade-offs required when choosing an ATV over a car. You’re probably safer (and more dry) than cycling, although you can’t take advantage of the narrower spacing.
Price £ 6,000 (estimate) Engine Single electric motor Power 8bhp Torque 29Ib ft Gearbox single speed automatic 0-62mph n / Top speed 28mph range 43 miles C02, tax group 0g / km, 1%
The Citroën Ami must be one of the most controversial cars we’ve driven, and its estimated price and intended use must be factored into any verdict. Despite being slow and having a small range, it is predicted to cost about half the price of its closest competitor, the Renault Twizy, while offering much better weather protection.
It is therefore ideal for the small niche of urban dwellers with special requirements, but the obvious trade-offs mean that it will be much more difficult for most drivers to sell it.