Skip advert
Advertisement

'Citroen has changed the game and changed the lives of countless consumers'

Mike Rutherford thinks the quirky new Citroen Ami is a true game-changing car

We keep hearing about game-changing cars – the sort of vehicles born after the global motor industry’s traditional design, engineering and pricing rule books have been torn-up and binned. But do we really get enough of these so-called breakthrough products in car showrooms? And on the rare occasions we do, are they within the financial reach of the motoring masses? No and no, I’m sorry to say.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Sure, there are plenty of interesting, high-quality, often beautiful variations on hatchback, saloon, SUV and sports car themes. Also, such cars now rely less on fossil fuels, more on electricity. So everything’s good, clever, more efficient, chugging along nicely, thanks.  

But in terms of radically different mainstream cars designed to play very different roles while being more accessible and affordable, the game really hasn’t changed that much. For volume manufacturers who dominate 90-plus per cent of the global market, the rule books have been tweaked, but hardly torn-up.

As for consumer products that rank as genuine game-changers, I spot them in the healthcare (Covid vaccines, for example) and entertainment (Netflix, etc) sectors, but not so much in car manufacturing.   

Until now. Today, 9 December 2020, will go down in history as the date Citroen changed the game and changed the lives of countless consumers. This, thanks to the global launch of its cheeky, brilliantly designed, North African-built, fully enclosed Citroen Ami – a deliberately modest four-wheel, two-seat electric vehicle promised to cost roughly the same per month as a mobile phone. How’s that for a breakthrough automotive product?

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The Ami ain’t perfect. It’s rough and ready, a pretty (ish) plastic pig. Technically – as with the bike-like, more exposed Renault Twizy – it’s a quadricycle. When I drove the Ami I looked a bit like a gorilla sitting in an egg. Plus it’s left-hand drive only, and the steering wheel should be centrally mounted with narrow passenger pews either side of the driver. The Ami isn’t for motorways, either. An indicated maximum speed of 30mph is adequate on urban streets, not on faster, out-of-town roads. 

But the handful of negatives are outweighed by a bucketload of positives. The Ami looks, feels, smells, drives, steers, sounds and stops like a proper car. Legal and technical definitions aside, for real-world consumers, it is a car. Existing motorists will rightly see it, buy it and lease it as an intriguing, second or third family car that’ll take up as much space as lazy dad’s sit-on mower.  

For urbanites (rural folk might struggle with it) the Ami could be the new car they thought they could never afford. That’s why it qualifies as a game-changer for the industry and – more importantly – a potential life-changer for the growing number of people, young and old, with extremely limited disposable incomes.

The Citroen Ami looks and feels right. It’s the right internationally available product at the right time, at the right price and being sold for all the right reasons.For these and other game-changing reasons, it is the 2020 World Vehicle of the Year.

Check out our review of another small electric car - the Fiat 500 EV here...

Skip advert
Advertisement
Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Raise a glass in memory of Nick Reilly, a Vauxhall and automotive industry legend
Nick Reilly standing next to an Opel Ampera
Opinion

Raise a glass in memory of Nick Reilly, a Vauxhall and automotive industry legend

Editor Paul Barker remembers Nick Rielly, a giant figure of the British and International car industry who sadly died on Friday
11 Jun 2024
New Citroen C3 priced from £17,790, with all-electric e-C3 just £4k more
Citroen e-C3 - full front
News

New Citroen C3 priced from £17,790, with all-electric e-C3 just £4k more

Citroen’s ambitious pricing confirmed, this is one of the UK’s most affordable electric cars
30 May 2024
Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV is £200,000 of electric opulence
Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV front 3/4
News

Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV is £200,000 of electric opulence

If a regular Mercedes EQS SUV isn’t flash enough, then Maybach might have the answer…
17 May 2024
Polestar 2 to be replaced by Polestar 7 in new Apple iPhone-style naming plan
Polestar 1 close up of the grill and badge
News

Polestar 2 to be replaced by Polestar 7 in new Apple iPhone-style naming plan

The next-generation Polestar 2 will be called Polestar 7 in a move to a new chronological naming strategy
16 May 2024

Most Popular

Dacia’s Duster is Britain’s best car to own as Driver Power 2024 survey results land
Dacia Duster - front tracking
News

Dacia’s Duster is Britain’s best car to own as Driver Power 2024 survey results land

Owners have voted the Dacia Duster as the most satisfying new car to own in the 2024 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey
11 Jun 2024
Best cars to own: Driver Power 2024 results
Driver Power 2024 - best cars to own header
News

Best cars to own: Driver Power 2024 results

The best new cars to own in the UK right now according to the people who already do. It’s the 2024 Driver Power results!
11 Jun 2024
New Porsche 911 S/T 2024 review: one of the best sports cars ever built
Porsche 911 S/T - front
Road tests

New Porsche 911 S/T 2024 review: one of the best sports cars ever built

Porsche’s last hurrah for the 992.1 generation 911 is an epic driving machine with just the right dose of luxury
12 Jun 2024