Citroen Ami Review 2023 | Top Gear
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Monday 25th September
Yes, it’s a rubbish ‘car’... because it isn’t one. But it is fun to use and an entirely loveable object

Good stuff

Simple, fun, cheap, better than cycling in a downpour

Bad stuff

Slow, basic, only any use in cities really


What is it?

The one thing it’s not, is a car. Yes, it looks like one, having four wheels and all, but the Citroen Ami is actually designated as a quadricycle, neatly sidestepping a whole host of regulations needed to be classed as a grown-up vehicle.

So you get a tiny 458kg (including the battery pack) ‘urban mobility object’ designed to be a personal transport module that replaces things like the Tube or a bus ride. Or even an eBike or scooter. Basically the automotive missing link.

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It looks tiny!

It is not big, no: well under a metre and a half wide (1.4, in fact) and less than two-and-a-half long, but can seat two in relative comfort. Although not a lot of comfort, and it depends on your definition.

Under the front is an 8bhp motor and 5.5kWh battery pack - and no, those aren’t typos - single-speeding the front axle and providing a top speed of 28mph. Or 29mph if you’re going downhill. Zero to Vmax takes 10 seconds, depending on how heavy you are. Maximum range amounts to 47 miles.

The body itself is made of unpainted/impregnated ‘Blue Ami’ plastic draped over a rudimentary box-section chassis, and if you look closely, you’ll notice the front and rear panels are the same. Meanwhile the side glass and doors (one passenger side opens normally, the driver’s is rear-hinged) are all swappable from side to side. That cuts production costs and makes it cheap. But more on that in a moment.

Come on then, put me in the driver’s seat…

It’s a completely joyful thing to potter around town in. Everybody loves it, and it generates the kind of feel good not possible even in a supercar. Basically the Ami is whatever the opposite of over-compensation is, albeit only for people who commute short distances. And where they very much don’t have to drive on fast A-roads or motorways. Mainly because it’s illegal in a ‘car’ this small and slow...

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I’m still struggling to see who this is for.

What this is, is a vehicle designed for the most niche of intra-urban commuting, literally across cities. Think of it less as a car, and more of the world’s most complicated umbrella: instead of biking across town or risking the vagaries of public transport, you just totter around in an Ami, keeping yourself secure and your hair dry.

There’s also now an ambitiously-named Cargo version of the Ami, which ditches the passenger seat in favour of extra space for boxes and goods, making it a Deliveroo-slash-Amazon-warehouse chariot… of sorts. We’ve got a separate review on it here.

Consider too that you can legally drive one of these in the UK from the age of 16 as well, as long as you’ve got a moped licence.

Eh? What teenager will be able to afford this?

Well now, prices start from £7,695, undercutting the next cheapest vehicle you can buy in the UK - that’d be the Kia Picanto, since you ask - by almost six grand. Timely reminder that this is not a car…

More relevant is the finance: Citroen can get you into an Ami for £99 a month with the right deposit. The thinking here is that the Ami will appeal to a younger generation whose means are limited by cash and ends are limited by lifestyle.

Crikey. Does it have rivals?

Not in the traditional sense. Perhaps the Renault Twizy, but you can’t get those here now. The Ami is in a segment of one, which means its competition extends to bicycles and the act of walking. And maybe those hoverboard things that were all the rage a few Christmases ago.

Keep an eye out for the Fiat Topolino: Citroen’s Stellantis sibling is having its own crack at this very platform, and appears to have nailed the cutesy styling based on what we’ve seen so far. That might start to make the Ami’s gawkish looks seem a bit lazy, even if they’re in the name of economising.

What's the verdict?

It’s not fun to drive, but it is fun to use. In a city, at least. There’s a joy in its simplicity...

The Ami is a rubbish car, if you could call it one. But it’s an entirely loveable object. It’s not fun to drive, but it is fun to use. In a city, at least. There’s a joy in its simplicity; in the way that it’s been designed; in the way that Citroen is embracing quirkiness. It’s not sophisticated or ground-breaking, but it is fun and interesting, and if it’s convinced a few Londoners to commute in one rather than mostly idling a big SUV, then that’s a good thing.

It’s also a good deal safer than a e-scooter or bike given the UK’s variable driving standards, not to mention weather. Would we buy one? Probably not. Rental? If there was somewhere convenient to charge, possibly. But for everyone else, a car-share, pay-as-you-go Ami experience would cover most bases.

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