The little Citroen Ami isn’t really a car at all. Despite having four wheels, an electric motor, two doors, two pedals and a steering wheel, it’s classed as a quadricycle.
In France it can even be driven by a 14-year-old without a driving licence, but here in the UK you will have to have passed your driving test and be at least 17.
Priced from just £7,695 or £101.52 per month via Personal Contract Purchase (PCP), it’s already a common sight on the streets of Paris and Rome (where it’s often parked nose-in to kerbs).
If the name rings a bell, then it should, because it was last used for a distinctive family car produced by Citroen between 1961 to 1978. Look hard and you’ll see a couple of nods to the original’s design in the all-new Citroen Ami.
Today’s Ami is a completely different concept. At just 2.4 metres long, 1.4m wide and 1.5m high, it’s a fun-sized 100% electric vehicle weighing in at just 471kg.
Under the bonnet there’s a tiny 8bhp motor and 5.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack, resulting in a top speed of 28mph and a possible 47-mile range.
In other words, the Ami (like its closest rival, the Renault Twizy) is strictly for city use.
For a full charge, simply plug it into a normal household three-pin socket or a regular Type 2 wall box for three hours.
Available in three trim levels – Ami, Ami Pop and Ami Vibe, a ‘van’ version (Ami Cargo) is also offered.
The different specs allow you to customise your car with splashes of colour, but the basic vehicle is much the same.
The Ami has a unique jelly-mould design and matt grey finish. A mass of hard plastic inside and out, it’s the epitome of quirky, no-frills motoring.
The doors open wide, so getting in and out is easy. Weirdly, the driver’s door is rear-hinged and the passenger’s is conventional, but there you go.
The cabin doesn’t feel cramped and there’s a bit of storage space behind the driver and in the passenger footwell, so with two-up, shopping trips are compromised.
It’s light and airy, thanks to the panoramic glass roof, while the horizontally split windows hark back to the iconic Citroen 2CV.
The Ami, however, doesn’t fit in with Citroen’s current ‘comfort’ USP. The plastic seats are minimally padded, meaning that they offer little cushioning. Add the virtually non-existent suspension, and the term ‘magic carpet ride’ does not spring to mind on poorer road surfaces.
It is simple to drive, though. Just press D (neutral and reverse are the only other options) on the drive selector and put your foot down.
Unlike most electric cars, the instant torque is not quite so apparent, but it’s zippy enough for city driving – its natural habitat. For the record, it has a 0-28mph sprint time of 10 seconds.
More importantly, the steering is light, and visibility is good, while its tight turning circle of just 7.2 metres is remarkable.
Even though it’s only available with left-hand drive, it’s no problem because it’s so small and being offset a few inches makes little difference.
A dinky delight to drive around town, it’s only on faster roads (40mph+) that it’s slow and small, and you start to feel exposed.
So far so good, but there’s are some negatives to factor in.
As the Citroen Ami is classified as a quadricycle, it does not go through the same rigorous safety testing as a car would. And while it’s probably safer than an e-bike or e-scooter, it doesn’t have any of the safety and driver assistance features found in modern cars.
On that note, the Ami does not feature ISOFIX anchor points, and Citroen “highly” recommends that you do not fit a child seat.
Space is an issue too. Sure, there are two seats, but not much else if you’re two-up and you have shopping.
If you always travel alone, then you could opt for the Ami Cargo, which can carry up to 400 litres of luggage and has an overall payload of 140kg. There’s even a cargo shelf which sits above the luggage area (on what would be the passenger side of the car), capable of carrying an additional 40kg.