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Spanish firm uses its electric motorbike tech on a miniature electric ‘car’ aimed at city inhabitants

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On the evidence of this outing, the Silence S04, a new electric quadricycle from a Spanish company that also makes electric motorbikes, does everything that the Citroën Ami promises to do but better.

Established in 2014 by former Dakar motorbike racer Carlos Sotelo, Silence claims to now be the biggest specialist EV maker in Europe – which probably says as much about European and Chinese EV strategies as it does about Silence itself. It makes 40,000 bikes a year at Barcelona’s former Nissan factory.

In the UK, Silences are imported by a team that includes former Jaguar Land Rover bigwig John Edwards, who greets me at the company’s Solihull headquarters. Opposite a parade of shops and takeaways, you can walk into this showroom and buy one of Silence’s e-motorbike. The original model, the S02, is a straightforward moped “suited to business users”, says Edwards, or there’s the plusher S01, which followed in 2019 “as a consumer bike”.

Now, nestled at the back of the shop, because they fit there easily enough, these are joined by a pair of the new S04 quadricycles.



Silence S04 side tracking

The S04 is 1.29m wide and 2.28m long and weighs just 450kg. Like the Ami, it has a spaceframe chassis over which a composite body is hung, but it feels like a much higher-quality item.

You can’t see the frame, for a start, because the interior is clad with panels - some soft to the touch, like in a car. Albeit a very small one.


Silence S04 interior

It seats two, but because of the limited width, the driver and passenger sit offset from each other. Behind them is a deep, 313-litre boot, accessed through a hatch.

It’s well equipped, considering. It has both a heater and air conditioning, powered windows, central locking (app-controlled as an option), a 7.0in digital instrument binnacle and smartphone wiring for its speakers.

It’s left-hand drive only, but that doesn’t seem like any great hardship. In fact, if you are parked parallel with a kerb, as a delivery driver might be, it would be a benefit.


Silence S04 battery trolley

Power comes from two hub motors, one in each rear wheel. They produce 19bhp in extended running and can briefly peak at 30bhp, making the S04 good for a top speed of 52mph.

There are two battery packs, one under each seat. Intelligently, they are exactly the same as the ones used in Silence’s motorbikes – which use only one. They have a capacity of 5.6kWh each, so they’re heavy.

They can be charged via a mains socket on the car, but also they have a trolley handle and wheels built in, so after you’ve clicked a release catch, you can slide them out and wheel them indoors for charging.

In Barcelona, there’s now a sufficient number of Silence e-motorbikes around that the firm offers battery-swapping stations, “almost democratising the charge infrastructure”, says Edwards.

The S04 needs both batteries installed to run – effectively one powers each motor, although they can be at different charge levels.

With both full, range is said to be up to 92 miles, but with 90%-charged batteries, my test car reckoned 60 miles in its medium power mode, labelled City, 75 miles in Eco and 50 miles in Sport.

During my test, the percentage of charge and range (expressed in kilometres) evaporated at the same rate, which would make for an easy 60-mile range even if you’re not soft on the throttle and I reckon an 80-mile range if you are.

Edwards contends that “it feels like a car”, and it certainly does more than an Ami or any other recent quadricycle I’ve tried.

Performance is pretty average by most car standards (0-30mph in less than 7.0sec is Silence’s believable claim), but it keeps pace with town traffic easily.


It’s quite good fun to drive, too. The turning radius is 3.5m, the steering is direct and throwing it around is entertaining. It grips well on 155/65 R14 tyres and it has anti-lock brakes.

But the ride is firm – which you expect if you’ve driven an Ami or a Renault Twizy. This is a relatively tall vehicle, so to keep check on body movements, it has to be.

That’s no bother on good roads, but the UK’s paucity of those is a problem. Worse, though, is those square speed humps that you would either straddle in a car or ride between on a bike. The S04 is the perfect width to whack into them whichever tactic you try, which is a bit of an ordeal. Still, you’re staying warm and dry and have a stereo.

I will admit that I really liked it. I’m not sure how often it would save you time, and at around £16,000, it’s firmly in car territory. Indeed, the new Dacia Spring, a 44bhp electric hatchback with four seats, is a grand cheaper.


Silence S04 Autocar verdict

In the right circumstances, though, this is equally as usable as a car – maybe even more so. As a holiday rental, an urban delivery cart or hanging from the back of a motorhome, I can see the appeal.

I came away thinking that if there is an issue, it isn’t the S04’s fault. It’s that we built a world around vehicles that are much bigger than it and then went ever bigger with them when we could have gone smaller.

The business case is predicated on a few hundred sales per year here, although Edwards thinks that with 40 UK dealers also retailing mopeds, Silence might do better than that. I rather hope it does. 

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.