From £7,6955

Is tiny Citroën the future of urban motoring or a G-Wiz reborn in funkier wrapping?

Find Citroen Ami deals
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
New car deals
From £7,695
Nearly-new car deals
From £6,990
Sell your car
In partnership with
Powered by

As modern motoring diverges from the old norm of big traditional car makers making big traditional cars, we see this now and again: someone branching out here and there with something novel, taking a chance, a rare bet, a delve into ‘mobility’.

What do, if we look back sufficiently far, the Sinclair C5, BMW C1 scooter, Reva G-Wiz and Renault Twizy all have in common? That’s right: they’re not offered here any more, and their manufacturers or importers don’t offer anything like them, either.

It was designed to tempt the young into driving, so it’s a quadricycle, not a car.

So a prolonged first run and a commissioned second series is not a given as we welcome the latest entrant into an uncrowded field, the Citroën Ami.

The idea was first shown as the Ami One concept at the 2019 Geneva motor show, gently rolling around the show stand itself, this cube on (relatively) huge wheels but with an interior straight out of the Transport for London design book, with blocky materials in light grey, highlighted in blue, orange or more grey (as here).

Like all concepts from big manufacturers, it was so well finished that even though it was basic, it screamed luxury like a concrete-walled bar.

The finished article, should there be one, wouldn’t be like that, they said. See how the doors are the same each side to save cost, and that the panels are the same front and rear for the same reason – though the rakish windscreen made it clear which way it was facing.

Back to top

It was designed to tempt the young into driving, so it’s a quadricycle, not a car – which frees it from various small-car regulations and, in various EU states, lets those as young as 14 drive it (that’s not the case here). And now it has landed in production form, after a short shall-we-shan’t-we from Citroën UK. But, basically, enough of us asked for it, so here it is – British ready and prepped for the Autocar road test.

Range at a glance

There’s no difference in mechanical specification between any of the five-strong Ami range, and only the Ami Cargo has a significantly different interior specification because it includes a cargo separator that sits on the right-hand side of the cabin and stops boxes from sliding into your legs, as well as hiding them from outside view.


02 Citroen Ami RT 2023 side corner

There’s nothing unusual in finding that a production road car is not as snazzy as the concept on which it was based. But in the Ami’s case, there is a definite ‘we don’t need to buy lunch out, we’ve got lunch at home’ vibe to it, where one is a gourmet slap-up and the other is a slice of cheddar between two bits of white bread. No mayo.

The cost-saving parts of the Ami, then, have stayed true to the concept. The doors are the same, hinged on their right, so the driver’s (it’s left-hand drive only) opens backwards, and the passenger’s conventionally. The body panels front and rear are the same, all quarterlights are too, and the quarter panels could swap sides. Clues to which way the car is facing come from the colour of the lights, the roof, and the front and rear glass treatment.

The tiny door mirrors want cleaning often in poor weather. The good thing is that you can reach them from the driver’s seat to adjust. The bad thing is their limited range of visibility.

The body is finished in acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, which is a versatile plastic used in everything from Lego bricks to pipework, but the closest subjective material finish to the Ami’s body is the stackable school chair you will have recently sat on at a school nativity.

Not unlike those, the Ami’s body is mounted over a steel frame, constructed in a Stellantis factory in Kenitra, Morocco, which also builds Peugeot 208s.

At 2.41m long and 1.39m wide, the Ami is a compact machine. But while there are two types of quadricycle – light and heavy, with slightly different laws for each, depending on where you live – that the Ami is electric always meant this was destined to be a heavy one (though these things are relative).

There’s a 5.5kWh lithium ion battery beneath it, an 8.04bhp electric motor (the 0.04 counts here), and an all-up weight of 471kg in this standard form. A ‘My Ami Cargo’ variant gets some interior cladding to increase luggage room and raises that to 478kg. The motor drives the front wheels through a single-speed reduction gear. Braking is by discs at the front, drums at the rear.

Because the battery is so small, you can’t fast-charge it – it would be like filling a cup with a fireman’s hose – so there’s a European two-pin plug, to which you can mate a standard three-pin adapter or Type 2 converter (supplied), and whose cable folds into a neat recess behind the passenger door. On a standard domestic plug it takes a bit over three hours to charge from empty to full (3hr 15min on our watch), at which point the indicated range – we will come back to this – is 45 miles. Again, what’s after decimal points counts.

There are various other laws that define a quadricycle but an important one we will also return to is that the top speed has to be limited, so it is, to 27.9mph.


11 Citroen Ami RT 2023 dashboard

What’s this? A key? Actually we don’t mind that at all, although it’s a bit old-school that the key to unlock the doors is separate from the one that operates the ignition.

The doors open wide and easily, and are extremely light. The Ami is low and small so it’s no easier to get in or out of than a conventional car – though you are likely to have more space around you in a car park.

There’s a bit of space behind the seats but access over the headrests isn’t straightforward. Perhaps most likely used for coats, if you’re not keeping them on.

Inside you will find two seats, a steering wheel and a lot more plastic than on the outside.

Although this is a basic vehicle with little equipment, we will spend more time talking about the interior than in most luxury cars. Not because there’s too little to talk about in the ‘Performance’ section, but because honestly the Ami is all about its inside. More than anything else it is, because it’s so few steps up from walking, a place to sit and be transported. Private transport and mobility in its purest form: and there’s something to like about that.

Two seats, then. They’re both hard and the driver’s is the only one that slides fore and aft. The backs are fixed, as is the steering wheel and two pedals. There’s a wiper and indicator stalk, and three buttons for the hazard warning lights, fan and heater.

There’s no central interior mirror but two small round external ones that can both be reached through the half-windows, which unlatch and swing upwards like a 2CV’s. You can reach them both from the driver’s seat. You can also see, perhaps alarmingly close to your head, the welded steel framework that you wouldn’t want to make contact with in an accident. Quadricycles do not undergo the same crash tests as cars.

Flick the key. As a driver, look down to your left and you will see Drive, Neutral and Reverse buttons by the seat. There’s a conventional mechanical handbrake. As for controls, that’s almost your lot.

There is, however, a place to secure a phone on the dashboard, with a USB socket and an optional final button on the steering wheel, which would, if you set it up right, activate the voice control on your phone so you don’t have to touch the screen.

There are neat touches elsewhere as the Ami makes a virtue of its basicness. The plastic cubbies on the dash are removable – the closest you can get to changing the car’s colour – but here matched to the colour atop the broad netted door bins and the fabric door pulls. A netted divider creates space for a carry-on-sized bag beyond the passenger footwell, though the hook above it is essential to prevent anything in there from toppling out. Given there’s a relatively flat open floor, having loose groceries rolling around by the driver’s feet is a suboptimal situation.

There’s a small area behind the seats (600x300x260mm) that would take shopping bags, but otherwise the footwell is the only storage area – and the rear window doesn’t open to post long loads through.

Citroën expects that many Amis will be used as urban delivery vehicles – the payload is 95kg and if you spec the Cargo pack, there’s a better divider that stops boxes falling onto your feet, with 260 litres of space beneath it.

Multimedia system

20 Citroen ami rt 2023 infotainment 0

The Ami comes with no infotainment of its own, so if you really want to assess the sounds and navigation, you’ll have to take a look at your phone instead.

There is, though, a phone holder that slots into the dash and there’s a small shelf beneath it on which to rest the device. It grips a device well and you can move it and spin it depending on your preferred orientation. And it’s honestly no more difficult to push a button on a screen this way than on any conventional car’s touchscreen. A USB charger socket sits beneath it, too.

Models above the base Ami include a piece of hardware that allows the smartphone to hook up to a steering wheel button that, with the right app download, then allows one-push voice control. If you do want to hear some sounds loudly, though, you’ll have to provide your own speaker – and remember there’s only one USB socket to power whichever devices you put into the Ami.


21 Citroen Ami RT 2023 plug performance

Well, it’s smooth. Let’s leave it at that, shall we? No? We must go on? Righto.

The Ami doesn’t have a creep function but in gear it resists rolling of its own accord, and throttle response is easy and smooth. This is a simple car to get rolling.

The Ami’s performance is hard to make a case for. And as for driving it on any 40mph, 50mph or, heaven forbid, national speed limit roads, for almost any length of time – forget it. Take a bus.

If you’re looking for incremental acceleration figures, well, keep looking, but it will hit 20mph from rest in a little over six seconds (it’s quite gravity dependent) and go on to a top speed of 28mph in about 10 seconds.

It will maintain that speed up most hills and on a downhill might even stretch to 31/32mph.

Maintaining a 28mph cruise, though, is best done on part-throttle. If you’re wide open on the gas, the Ami hesitates for a few seconds, every few seconds, like a bad taxi driver lifting off slightly now and again. You can negate it by carrying a touch less open throttle.

Lift off completely and there’s very little feeling of regeneration; although the motor is still hooked up to the wheels and acting that way, the Ami rolls as convincingly as any sub-500kg car is likely to.

Brake pedal feel is really good and it stops very quickly. There’s no ABS so it’s up to the driver to modulate, but that’s easily done. And even if you do lock a tyre, it probably won’t matter.

What we do need to talk about, though, is range. Drive solely on 20/30mph roads in built-up urban traffic, where you would rarely trouble the modest top speed, and you will do okay – in fine weather, where you don’t need the heater or wiper or fan, you are likely to get your 40 miles.

But spend any prolonged time at or around the car’s top speed, which is eminently possible in suburban rather than congested city centre surroundings, and you’re looking at less. And at the bottom end, it starts to get perilous.

An example: we set off with 17 miles of indicated range on some roads where maintaining 28mph was straightforward. After six miles, a warning light came on to suggest we were running short of range (six miles were indicated), and at an indicated three miles it went into a limp mode.

Like a radio-controlled car running low on battery, performance reduced to the extent that it took more than 40 seconds to reach a top speed downhill and refused to get out of the teens on an incline. Eventually, the Ami said we had one mile of range left, just 10 miles after setting off with 17 on the indicator. It was about 10deg C and drizzly, granted, and no doubt you would get accustomed to how it behaved and act accordingly, but still – worryingly poor.

If running at its top speed – which is very much urban driving, albeit uninterrupted – the Ami’s performance is hard to make a case for. And as for driving it on any 40mph, 50mph or, heaven forbid, national speed limit roads, for almost any length of time – forget it. Take a bus.


22 Citroen Ami RT 2023 front corner

Given an Ami weighs less than 500kg, it would be hard to go wrong here. Almost every small, lightweight car is fun to an extent and so too is the Ami. It’s front-drive, but given the paucity of power and torque, it doesn’t trouble grip at the front, nor torque steer. The steering is light, unassisted and 3.9 turns lock to lock.

That’s not a number that suggests it’s massively responsive, but bear in mind the wheels turn so much that the entire turning diameter is just 7.2m – as little as some cars’ turning radii.

Light cars tend to be fun cars, and this one is too. But in most driving environments, the crashy ride, noise and lack of grunt are more likely to define your experience of it.

So there’s some fun to be had. All that said, it’s very short, with a footprint not far off square and it’s quite upright. If that reminds you of the original Smart City Coupé or Mercedes-Benz A-Class, you will remember that they could suffer from instability. You would have to be indulging in some extreme manoeuvres to tip an Ami over, but from that viewpoint it’s probably better it’s limited to 28mph.

Comfort and isolation

23 Citroen ami rt 2023 rear corner 0

Well, at least when it’s running at idle and there’s no heater or fan blowing, there’s no more noise in an Ami than is ambient. Enjoy that while it lasts. This is an astonishingly noisy car given its low speed.

Partly it’s sound from outside. Listening back to our voice notes, you can hear passing traffic more than in any other car.

But most of the noise is of its own making. Switching the fan on – louder than a hand dryer in a public loo and about as effective – took the interior noise from 37dBA ambient to 67dBA – louder than a Renault Mégane at 70mph.

Head to the top speed and it’s 71dBA in here. The motor whines away, too, and the ride is noisy – as well as crashily uncomfortable. This wouldn’t be so bad if you were going fast. But we’re still talking the realms of being overtaken by impatient drivers on 30mph roads.

The fan, at least, clears the windscreen relatively quickly – though if you need to give it a quick rub to demist, the inside of the screen is the one window that’s too far away to wipe. And if there’s a build-up of water or grime on the outside, visibility can be surprisingly poor to the front three-quarter, as well as around the thick B-pillars and in the small mirrors. For a car that’s so exposed, that’s troubling.


01 Citroen Ami RT 2023 lead corner

The Ami is cheaper than the cheapest new car on sale – the circa-£13,000 Dacia Sandero – by a big margin. But this is still at least a £7695 vehicle on the road.

On a PCP finance deal, you’re looking at putting £770 down and paying £100 a month for 47 months and still owing £4418 on it. If you want a splash of colour (though grey is the only base colour), you can add £20 or so to the monthlies.

Wheel trims are one of the fitted options on this Ami ‘Grey’ edition, as are a small side sticker and rear side-window stickers.

Citroën does say you can run an Ami from £19.99 a month, though this requires nearly a three-grand deposit and leaves a £5000 balloon payment after two years, so this wouldn’t be our recommended way to get into one.

How much an Ami costs to charge will come down to your domestic tariff – but good work could be achieved here. And if you do the kind of driving that gets 40 miles out of it, you will be looking at over seven miles per kWh. Even if you don’t get the full 40, the Ami is a particularly efficient car. And let’s face it, there isn’t a great deal to go wrong.


24 Citroen Ami RT 2023 static

We find it hard not to feel conflicted about the Citroën Ami. This is an intelligently conceived car that’s built down to a price and for a very specific purpose – and we tend to like light, simple cars that have straightforward jobs and do them well. And in the absolute right set of circumstances, it works.

But for all of that, it’s painful to drive in all but the slowest of urban areas. There’s little luggage space, in poor conditions it’s hard to see out of and on anything other than congested roads it feels utterly perilous. And if you do find yourself staying at its top speed for prolonged periods, that eats into its modest range.

We’re loath to make new versus used comparisons in road tests because it’s almost always unfair on the new vehicle, but in the Ami’s case there are so few competitors, and its use case is so very, very limited, that it’s hard not to consider something older but far more accommodating and easier to live with. If it’s for strictly slow-urban use, gets you off a scooter, or your business would benefit in terms of branding, by all means take a look. But beyond a very specific set of criteria, it’s incredibly difficult to recommend.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes.