Living with a Citroën Ami: is the Ami actually too big?

3 Apr 2023
Citroen Ami and a Range Rover

Here at Move Electric, we’re quite partial to the Citroën Ami, because it offers an interesting and innovative solution for affordable electric transportation.

We're running our own #MEami – complete with full-on Move Electric livery – for the next few months to find out what it's really like to live with.

If you spot us when out and about (likely in south west London), give us a wave and feel free to take a photo. You can share them on social media, use the hashtag #MEami. 

More EV news than you can fit in an Ami: it's the Move Electric newsletter

Anything you really want to know about living with an Ami? Email and we’ll put it to the test.

Report 7, April 2023: is the Ami actually too big to be useful?

It’s not exactly a revelation to point out that the Citroën Ami is small. It’s gloriously, endearingly, unapologetically small. And small is, of course, beautiful, isn’t it? Well, perhaps not: one criticism I’ve heard levelled at it is that, essentially, the Ami is too big – or, put another way, not small enough.

At one level, that’s hard to fathom. Seriously, just look at this picture of the Ami parked next to a Range Rover that our sister mag What Car? is running. Look at the difference. And, I can promise, the Ami is very definitely small, not far away.

The argument is that, as a quadricycle, the Ami has limitations in terms of range and power that hold it back compared to cars – but it isn’t small enough to benefit from the trade-off, because it still had to use the same roads as cars.

It’s a valid point. A good example was the big Move Electric E-Race Across London (if you haven’t watched the video yet, go and do it now. We’ll wait here for you) from Twickenham to Stratford. Unlike e-bikes and e-motorbikes, the Ami wasn’t small enough to use cycle lanes or thread through traffic. But because of its limited range, it still had to plot a straight route through central London, while the Porsche Taycan could drive a longer route on far quieter roads. 

The result was that the Ami was the last of the finishers, and it wasn’t really close. Which comes back to that criticism: as a quadricycle, the Ami is pitched in competition with cars, but also e-bikes and e-scooters. 

But my short commutes through suburban London to and from MN Towers recently have truly highlighted the benefit of its small size. The best recent example came on a drive home, when I found myself being tailed by a Land Rover Defender 110.

It fair raced up behind me, and from the car’s intimidating body language gave the impression the driver wasn’t happy at being slowed by an Ami – despite the fact I was travelling at right on the 20mph borough-wide speed limit. My rear-view mirrors were quickly filled by oversized Defender grille, to the point I wondered if the driver could actually see me over the bonnet. 

But then we rounded a corner to a stretch of residential road with parking bays on both sides of the road, which squeezed what was a two-lane road into something close to one-and-a-half lanes. And there was a bus coming in the other direction, by necessity well over the white lane divider.

In virtually any car, I’d have needed to slow down and squeeze in to ensure the bus could get past. Not in the Ami. I simply kept my foot down and carried on past the bus, with several feet of space on either side. The Defender? Not so much. He disappeared from my view while trying to squeeze into a gap in the parked cars to let the bus past. By the time I saw it again it was the other side of two sets of traffic lights, and he was at least 10 cars behind. 

That’s just one example, of course, and it points to the Ami’s very specific use case for short journeys in congested areas. But it did feel quite prescient, in part because of the Defender driver’s quite aggressive behaviour towards the Ami, as if it didn’t really belong on the road.

It certainly stands out in Richmond-upon-Thames, where you’ll see more SUVs similar in size to the Defender on the roads than you will small cars or quadricycles. Which is a problem: modern cars and SUVs aren’t just taller and boxier, they’re also wider. That’s made the roads narrower, especially when you have cars parked on both sides of them. 

Narrow roads, in turn, slow down traffic and add to congestion. But it does create a situation where the Ami can thrive thanks to its small size. Now just imagine how much more space there’d be if more vehicles on the road were as narrow as an Ami…

Report 6, March 2023: is the Ami an all-weather warrior?

The recent blast of wintry weather has brought snow to much of the UK, although Move Electric Towers in Twickenham only received a minor dusting that quickly turned to rain.

Still, it was unpleasantly cold and wet – which gave us the perfect opportunity to really test the Citroën Ami in wintry conditions, with really represent both blessing and curse, depending on how you view things.

Let’s start with the bad stuff: as you will often hear, lots of electric vehicles don’t like cold weather. It makes them less efficient, which reduces the range and, in turn, their usability.

Given the Ami already has a relatively small range of just over 40 miles, that’s a bit of an issue. A five-mile trip in temperatures that were just hovering above freezing, we knocked around 10 miles off the indicated range. That’s not really terrible for an EV, per se, but if you were making a longer round trip you’d want to make sure you were fully topped up before you left.

Another issue: some of the Ami’s lack of refinement and features that you now take for granted on even basic cars does show up in the wet. The windscreen wipers aren’t tremendously efficient, and the windscreen is prone to fogging up a bit.

Opening the windows does help to ease up the fogging, but that has two issues: it lets the cold in, and the Ami sits low enough that on a wet day you do find yourself at splash risk from passing faster cars that don’t slow down through puddles.

There is a fan to clear it, but it’s not tremendously efficient and is really very loud. The fan also has a heater, but it won’t exactly have you baking - and it will have a small but notable impact on your range.

So our tips: if you’re taking a trip in the Ami on a cold, wet day, make sure you’re wearing a coat - and pack some gloves. Yes, the future of modern mobility could well lead to a revival of driving gloves.

Move Electric's star e-vehicles of 2022: Citroën Ami

But for all those criticisms, in some aspects the Ami really excels in cold and wet weather. As always, it depends on what you compare it to: it’s never going to be as pleasant or refined as a big, expensive car. But, of course, the Ami is hashtag not a car.

And the Ami isn’t just an alternative to a car: it’s also an alternative to other forms of mobility, such as cycling, e-biking or using an e-scooter (a rental one in areas where it’s legal, obviously). And on a cold, wet day, when the choice is between cycling or a four-wheeled machine with a roof, the Ami suddenly has a lot more appeal.

Perhaps that’s the soft Southerners in us here at ME Towers. Certainly, plenty of people happily brave the rain and cold to take to their bikes. But if you had a short journey to make in wintry conditions and it was important to arrive dry and relatively comfortable, the Ami has plenty of appeal. 

Although seriously, just remember to pack those gloves.

Report 5, February 2023: what will the neighbours say? Life as an Amibassador

My role editing Move Electric (and previously working on Autocar) means I’m fortunate to sample lots of new cars. And arriving home in a variety of often shiny and fancy cars definitely attracts the attention of the neighbours.

But some machines definitely attract more attention than others. In my time at Autocar I once turned up on my mum’s drive in a Ford Ranger Raptor pick-up. Her neighbours accused me of blocking out the light to their kitchen. They were joking. I think.

Still, of all the things I’ve parked up on the street outside my house, few have sparked as many stares, glances and conversations as the Move Electric Citroën Ami. So this week’s lesson of Ami ownership is that if you drive one, be prepared to become an Ami ambassador. Amibassador, anyone?

Seriously, it attracts glances everywhere, and will occasionally reduce children to fits of pointing and laughter. At the very least, it seems to make people smile. But it also seems to make them sceptical, the way that new, unusual and different things often do. So there will be questions. Lots of questions. 

The first thing people will comment on is how small it is, something that is particularly apparent on the small cul-de-sac I live on. It was built in the 1960s and has a series of parking bays designed for cars from that era, which is a bit of a problem given the girth of many modern machines. 

That’s not, predictably, a problem with the Ami. It can fit into the smallest parking spaces on the street with ample room to spare. Still, there are questions. Is that thing real? Is it scary being in a car that small? What range has it got? Is it fun to drive? What’s the top speed? Wait, where do you put your shopping?

Still, I never begrudge the questions, because the truth is that the Ami is new, unusual and different. Which means people need to learn about it and adjust to it. What’s rewarding is that, once I’ve answered all those questions, people seem to understand the Ami a lot better. They go from seeing it as an offbeat oddity to a genuine transport option – even if they do decide it’s not one for them.

Clearly, as more Ami arrive on the UK’s roads the novelty factor should wear off a bit. But that will take some time, since it’s just so distinctive from everything else on the road right now. And if nothing else, it will get the neighbours talking.

James Attwood

Report 4, February 2023: help! We've locked the keys in our Ami...

As a small, affordable, electric quadricycle, the Citroën Ami is a very on-trend, modern day machine. But in order to achieve all that, it has some features that are decidedly old-school.

Features you now take for granted on modern cars – even basic things such as rear-view mirrors, central locking and a stereo system – come at a cost, both in terms of adding to the car’s price and adding complexity and weight.

In the Ami it just makes for some interesting quirks that can take you back a few decades of motoring. One example: adjusting the wing mirrors requires opening the windows and tilting them by hand.

Then there are the door locks. There’s no automatic central locking or fancy keys with buttons here: you stick the key in the lock, turn and push to pop the door open. The last car I owned that used that sort of locking system was a Peugeot 205. So driving the Ami has been like going back in time.

All off which is a long-winded way of trying to justify how I managed to lock the Ami’s keys inside the Ami recently. 

Yes, I’m an idiot.

Still, it was easily done. My mum had been visiting, and was keen to experience the full glory of the Ami. On return home I parked up, turned the motor off and then got distracted helping explain to Professor Attwood where the pull handle was to open the passenger door. Distracted, I then hopped out of the Ami… and only remembered I’d left the keys in the ignition once both doors had swung firmly shut.

Which wouldn’t really be a problem… except after unlocking both driver and passenger door I’d evidently twisted the lock of both while removing the key, turning both back to the locked position. 

Some panic ensued, including a prolonged period where I tried everything to get back into the Ami, because it’s basically impossible to lock your keys into a modern-day car, right? Which it is… but when it comes to the locks the Ami isn’t really all that modern. 

Is that the Ami’s fault? Not at all. The blame was entirely on me forgetting I wasn’t driving a car with a keyless ignition, automatic unlocking doors, central locking and other features. 

Thankfully, the old-school Ami comes with something that is actually an optional extra on some modern cars: a set of spare keys. So after confessing my embarrassment to Citroën UK, they posted them to me by express mail, and I gratefully retrieved the keys from the Ami.

Is there a moral to this story? Well, the obvious one is don’t be as stupid as I clearly am. More broadly, the other takeaway is that it can time to adjust to life without some of the convenience features on modern cars, and the odd mishap is possible if you do.

That said, once you have adjusted, you won’t really miss them. 

James Attwood

Report 3, January 2023: driving the #MEAmi to the What Car? Awards

Choosing a vehicle to drive you to a swanky awards ceremony is pretty straightforward these days. Some prefer to make a statement by arriving in a long-wheelbase Range Rover; others may opt for a big Mercedes or BMW saloon. 

But when it came to choosing a vehicle to take us to this year’s What Car? Awards, dubbed the ‘Motoring Oscars’, we came up with a brilliant climate-conscious alternative. Step forward the Move Electric Citroën Ami. 

We’ve been using our Ami for lots of journeys around west London, with our last report highlighting the benefits of using a quadricycle to get to and from Move Electric Towers. 

Our trip to the What Car? Awards, held at the The Grosvenor House Hotel, allowed us to test the Ami’s commuting abilities further and see how it would perform on a longer journey into the centre of the capital. 

The night before the Awards we charged the Ami to 100% giving us a range of 46 miles; although when we turned the car on last Thursday evening it had dropped to 44 miles. 

It’s worth noting that we set off to the Awards in freezing conditions, so the Ami’s heater was required for much of the journey. 

Overall the Ami handled the 11.7-mile trip well, despite the cold weather and heavy traffic. As we neared the venue, smartphone navigation app Waze found a faster route which took us around a residential area near Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park.

Here, the Ami was in its prime, with its lightweight accurate steering and short-wheelbase tailored to the narrow backstreets. And thanks to our rat-run through Shepherds Bush and Paddigton we clawed back some time, arriving at The Grosvenor on schedule. 

Our only real bugbear was the range: we started with 44 miles, but this had dropped to 24 miles when we parked outside the hotel. 

Naysayers will jump to criticise the Ami’s efficiency, but it was around -1 degrees celsius when we arrived - that is far from suitable conditions for a quadricycle with a 5.5kWh battery. And it's worth mentioning that for 20-30 minutes we were sat in a traffic jam in Richmond with the heater on full blast, reducing the Ami’s range at a faster rate. 

All in all, the Ami proved it can handle greater distances in cold weather, albeit with a significant impact on range. Would we travel to next year’s awards in a Mercedes Maybach? Absolutely not. 

Sam Phillips

Report 2, January 2023: Commuting in an Ami

The #MEami arrived with us just before Christmas, and as with all good Christmas presents we’ve been trying to use it as much as possible. And horrible late December weather gave us the perfect excuse to put the Ami to the test for a spot of commuting to work.

It’s a job the Ami is ideally suited for: it’s about a six-mile drive from my house to Move Electric Towers, and usually takes around 20-30 minutes (because London traffic, sigh). As a bonus, we even have access to a dedicated office car park with some EV chargers.

While we have to share that car park with Autocar, What Car? And other colleagues at Haymarket, given the size of the Ami it’s easy to find a corner to cram it into. In fact, we actually worked out it would fit through the door into our storage cupboard, although we need to check if the ramp will bear the weight before we try…

My commute is entirely within the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, which has installed a blanket 20mph speed limit on most roads for safety reasons. And that mans the low 28mph top speed of the Ami absolutely isn’t an issue. 

Move Electric's star e-vehicles of 2022: Citroën Ami

The small size of the car has its benefits, too. The main road between Kingston-upon-Thames and Richmond-upon-Thames threads between the River Thames and Richmond Park, with historic building tight on either side. That makes it incredibly tight for modern cars, and you often have to stop to allow a bus or lorry to squeeze past. But in the Ami it’s far more relaxing, especially because the left-hand drive layout makes it easy to place the car on the far left-side of the road.

Now, the Ami is definitely not the last word of luxury to commute in. The motor does whine a bit, and the seats aren’t that comfortable. And if you want a bit of heat in cold, wet weather the fan isn’t all that effective and is annoyingly loud: it’s a bit like the whirr a laptop computer makes when it’s overheating. But not of those are insurmountable problems, because it’s a relatively short journey. 

Besides, on a wet day sitting in an Ami will keep you drier and warmer than if you walk or take an e-bike, but without filling as much of a congested road as a great big SUV. And judging by the stares we’ve been getting, we’ve helped cheer up several people as we pass. 

An impromptu comparison came on a recent morning when for the bulk of my journey I found myself behind a Porsche Cayenne in a long, slow queue of traffic. Was the driver of that Cayenne more comfortable than me? Almost certainly. Was the driver of that Cayenne warmer than me? Probably. But did the driver of that Cayenne cover that part of their journey any quicker than me? Absolutely not. And did the driver of that Cayenne have more fun than me? I’d suggest not. 

James Attwood

Report 1, December 2022: we've got our own Ami!

The Citroën Ami has its limitations, but if you’re looking for low-cost, four-wheeled electric mobility for short trips around town, you won’t find much better. 

That’s why we gave it five stars when we reviewed it, and named it the winner of the Innovation Award in the first Move Electric Awards earlier this year. We’ve also found out what the Ami is really like to drive around the UK’s capital – and pitched it against other e-mobility options in our first E-Race across London.

But there’s still more to learn, so we’ve been asking Citroën for ages to loan us an Ami for an extended period. We want to find out what the quirky quadricycle is really like to live with. 

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Well, Citroën went one better: they didn’t just send us an Ami, they gift-wrapped it. And not in rubbish Christmas paper either, but in full-on Move Electric colours.

So we’ll be out and about in the ME Ami for the next few months, trying to explore all of its depths and show off Move Electric a bit. We’ll be honest, we’ll mostly be around west London, thanks to that 28mph top speed and limited range. But if you see us out an about give us a wave.

James Attwood


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