Could Citroen’s smile-inducing Ami mini electric car change the way we drive in cities?
French carmaker offers an affordable way to move to zero-emissions driving
From the moment I set eyes on Citroen’s Ami in the flesh I couldn’t stop smiling. It looks like something from a 1970s James Bond movie ready to emerge silently from an underground lair. While it takes me back to my youth the Ami is far from retro. Instead, it’s forward-thinking, clean, functional, sustainable and affordable at €6,000 (£5,550).
The Ami mini concept electric ‘car’ is currently only available in France but could reach the rest of the world if demand is there. In its homeland the Ami is classed as a quadricycle. This means it can be driven on a moped licence, so French teens as young as 14 can drive the Ami. This would be 16 in other European countries depending on individual laws.
Citroen have designed the two-seater Ami to be simple yet practical and have saved money on production where possible. The two side doors for example are essentially the same on each side with the driver’s side opening forwards and the passenger’s backwards. This saves on production costs. The Ami is small and the cube-shaped body measures 2.5m long, 1.5m wide and 1.5m tall, and it weighs just 471 kilogrammes.
Once inside, the Ami is a simple affair with no frills or luxuries but the design is modern and comfortable enough for the short journeys it’s designed for. Having the seats located towards the rear of the car makes the Ami feel much roomier inside than expected. The panoramic roof also helps to create a feeling of space and connection with the outside world.
The Ami is easy to drive and pulls away silently and smoothly as expected with an electric car. It accelerates better expected and feels like it’s moving faster than it is. Being a Citroen the suspension feels relatively plush and once moving I can feel a huge grin take over my face. Everywhere I drive the Ami attracts attention.
Citroen’s Ami is not a racer or a big plush car but there’s something special about this bijou mover that I love. It reminds me of the first time I travelled in a Citroen 2CV where it wasn’t about speed or the destination but enjoying the journey. The neat flip-up windows also help to bring back this nostalgia.
The Ami is quite simply fun to drive. It’s easy to throw around town and parking couldn’t be simpler. It fits into gaps other cars couldn’t dream of getting into. Having the battery located in the rear provides an equal distribution of load and helps with the overall handling. For safety reasons the Ami is not completely silent and has an artificial sound at low speeds to warn pedestrians.
The zero-emission 100 percent battery-electric Ami can be charged in just two hours. A 5.5kWh battery delivers a top speed of around 30mph (48kph) and Citroen says it has a range of up to 60 miles (97km). While the speed or range aren’t huge they are more than adequate for the school run, a trip to the shops or a short commute to work.
Even after I have finished ripping around town in the Ami and back in the real world, the grin remains. I know from conversations since that the looks here divide people. It’s a Marmite sort of vehicle. Aesthetics aside, it’s hard to get away from the fact this neat little cartoon car is clean, highly functional and practical.
The other big plus with the Ami is the low cost compared to most electric vehicles available. It is one of the cheapest electric vehicles currently available in Europe making it accessible and an easy way of making the move to cleaner planet-friendly driving. We just hope that Citroen decides to start selling the Ami in the UK.