Announced at 75 km in theory, what is the range of the Citroën AMI in real conditions? We tested the electric micro-car on a rather tough mixed city and peri-urban route. The license-free has proven convincing overall, both in terms of its autonomy and its performance.
With its futuristic soapbox look, the Citroën AMI surprises. On the road as in town, all eyes are on the small car without an electric license. The eyes are sometimes wide: but what is this rolling UFO? Launched in May 2020, the AMI is a cart accessible from 14 years old with the BSR. Restricted to 45 km / h, it has a 6 kW (8.1 hp) electric motor and a tiny 5.5 kWh battery. Sufficient capacity to offer 75 km of autonomy according to the WMTC standard dedicated to two-wheelers and quadricycles.
What is it in real conditions? We tested the Citroën AMI on a loop between the center of Marseille and Cassis. A route made up of 50% town and 50% departmental road, quite unique since it has about 800 m of elevation gain. Despite this relatively rough profile, the cart didn’t falter. Set off with 69 km of autonomy according to the very sparse dashboard (which unfortunately does not display the percentage of remaining battery), the test begins with very crowded avenues.
The axes under construction lined with a patchwork of irregular asphalt allow the AMI’s suspensions to be tested. They are remarkable for a vehicle of this category. Pavement defects are properly compensated and despite the stiffness of the seat, they offer a good level of comfort. Be careful, however, not to drive too fast: we literally took off, crossing a Berlin cushion at 45 km / h.
The micro-car easily weaves its way through traffic, without obviously offering the agility of a scooter. If the small electric is only 2.41 m long, 1.39 m wide and 1.52 m, it remains too thick to make its way between two lines. In traffic jams, it is therefore the same hassle in the Citroën AMI as in the Tesla Model X, less air conditioning. Because if the license-free is equipped with heating for winter, it just stirs the air in summer. During heatwaves, it will especially be necessary to rely on the vertical opening of the small windows, a nod to the 2CV. A bit borderline, especially as the vast glass roof generates a significant greenhouse effect.
This bay window, however, brings a lot of light and allows beautiful views of the landscape. We contemplate the silhouette of the Bonne-Mère as we climb the most inclined street in Marseille. With its 14% on average over 400 m, boulevard André-Aune is a small test for the Citroën AMI. The cart attacked the hill without batting an eyelid before running out of steam slightly at the end of the race. Foot to the ground, it no longer exceeds 20 km / h over the last few meters, without this being particularly annoying.
Almost as light as a thermal license free
The performance is ultimately satisfactory for a vehicle without a license, legally restricted to 6 kW. The AMI also has great advantages over its thermal counterparts: it emits no smelly odors or unpleasant noises. It’s also sharper under acceleration, benefiting from the instant torque of its electric motor and reduced weight. The electric cart weighs 471 kg, barely more than the 425 kg of an Aixam Minauto diesel. A particularly appreciable difference in town, where shutdowns and restarts are frequent.
Outside of urban areas, the AMI is just as agile. Its identity as a license-free car is however highlighted by its legal speed limit. While in town, clamping at 45 km / h is never a problem, it sometimes disturbs other users on departmental roads. Naturally, many vehicles are crowding behind us. However, the cart does not have to turn pale on the route we took it through. It crosses the Col de la Gineste (326 m) between Marseille and Cassis twice without difficulty. On the steepest climbs (8%), the speed decreases very gradually, reaching a maximum of around 30 km / h.
A small isolated gravel road allows us to test the AMI’s braking. Launched at full speed, the vehicle requires a very frank application of the brake pedal. In the absence of any assistance, the wheels lock up quickly. The trail left on the road makes it possible to estimate the distance necessary to stop under these conditions at less than 10 m.
Despite the gradients and the few test accelerations, the AMI seems to maintain a good battery level. Back in Marseille, a first orange light comes on and the instrument panel indicates 10 km of remaining autonomy. That’s just what it takes to get to the vehicle drop-off location in the city center. However, we prefer to be careful and top up before. After a few laps of the road to empty the battery near the charging station, the AMI activates “turtle” mode. A beep accompanied by a light illustrating the reptile lights up on the dashboard, while there is only 5 km of autonomy.
The performance is considerably reduced, so much so that the cart seems to refuse to climb a final slope. With the accelerator fully pressed, the AMI decelerates to 10 km / h, making us fear that it will run out of fuel just a few dozen meters from the terminal. By delivering its last electrons, it still reaches the point of charge, after a journey of 51.9 km. A performance far from the promised 75 km of autonomy, but quite honorable given the difficulty of the test. In the absence of detailed information on the dashboard, we estimate the average consumption to be around 10 kWh / 100 km. While this may seem slightly high for an unlicensed cart, the figure remains in line with the type of route taken.
We now have to maneuver to recharge: the cable is short, it does not allow us to go around the vehicle or even to stay a little away from the terminal. If necessary, provide a suitable extension, the cable being inseparable from the vehicle. It fits loose without a retractor in a small compartment located on the upright, near the right door.
Citroën announces 3 hours for a full tank on a classic domestic socket, the only port currently accepted by the AMI (a type 2 adapter will soon be marketed). The charging time should be longer in reality since when we stopped, we recovered only 14 km (2 segments) in about 1 hour of charging. The remaining time displayed by the dashboard seems unreliable, oscillating between 4:30 and 3:12 in a few minutes.
Citroën AMI or without a thermal license?
For those who have an outlet at home, in their garage or on the public highway, the Citroën AMI seems to be the best solution in the category of vehicles without a license. Range is not a problem with this type of car, the electric only offers advantages: dynamism, flexibility, silence, absence of pollution in the exhaust, rudimentary maintenance and savings. Indeed, traveling 100 km in a Citroën AMI costs € 1.76 while recharging at home during peak hours (at the average price per kWh in 2019). This is much less than the € 4.46 / 100 km spent by a thermal competitor like the Aixam Minauto Access diesel (at the average diesel price in 2019).
Especially since the AMI is significantly cheaper to buy than its noisy rivals: it starts at € 6,000, with an ecological bonus of € 900 deducted. The most affordable Aixam starts at € 8,999. The French number 1 in the license-free car also offers an electric model from € 13,999 bonus deducted. This price difference is reflected, however, in the comfort and equipment services, which are less present on board the AMI.
The basic version is content with the bare minimum. It even skips the smartphone pliers, a very cheap and essential tool these days. The concept is taken to offer an optional central mirror, as well as the OBD module to connect the AMI to your smartphone. This equipment can also be ordered separately on mister-auto.com, the merchant site being a subsidiary of PSA. It will cost you less to buy the few items of your choice separately rather than opting for a theme pack, which sells for between € 400 and € 1,360.
And you ? Did the Citroën AMI convince you?
Assessment of the test
The liveliness of the electric motor The suspensions The range The cleavage look The turning radius (7.2 m) The absence of air conditioning The lack of standard smartphone clamp The lack of visibility of the side mirrors The absence of the standard central mirror The short length of the cable The lack of display of the percentage of remaining battery (information that can be found on our smartphones, laptops, back-up batteries, etc.)