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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Driving Citroen’s pint-sized Ami EV is as fun as it looks

Car makers have gone on and on for years about so-called urban mobility solutions, but have you ever seen one on the streets? French automaker Citroen finally did something about that by transforming its adorable Ami concept into an actual adorable car with two seats and a top speed of 28 MPH.

By a quirk of French law, the Ami is not technically a car but a “quadricycle,” so users in the nation as young as 14 can drive it. But unlike Renault’s Twizy quadricycle, it’s a fully enclosed vehicle. That means you or your teenager could take it to get groceries or go to football practice without getting soaked in a rainstorm.

With its playful design and simple but functional interior, the Ami screams “fun” no matter your age. And for about $7,500 to buy, after French subsidies, or $0.65 a minute to rent, it’s pretty cheap. But what’s it like to drive in a city as chaotic as Paris? To find out, I strapped in and went for a spin.

The Citroen Ami is available in a variety of flavors for purchase, and you can pick one up at electronics stores Darty and FNAC. Prices range from €6,090 (about $7,385) for the basic Ami and run up to €7,495 ($9,090) for the Ami Vibe (after government EV subsidies). The latter comes with a colorful design scheme and includes options like custom wheels and a hands-free smartphone kit.

Along with the original Ami, Citroen recently introduced the Ami Cargo designed for small businesses and last-mile deliveries. That vehicle has extra storage space, along with a shelf, in place of the passenger seat. With those changes, it can hold up to 14 cubic feet of cargo weighing just over 300 pounds and it starts at €7,390 ($8,960).

A family might purchase an Ami as a city vehicle for themselves or their teenagers, and businesses might buy one for deliveries or as a cool marketing campaign on wheels. Another key market is car-sharing. Citroen parent PSA has a rental division called Free2Move which has a fleet of over 500 Amis in Paris.

It’s not going to be limited to France, though, as Free2Move recently teased that the Ami would join its rental fleet in Washington, DC. To that end, I wanted to test Free2Move’s rental version of the Ami, rather than the more upmarket retail version.

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