What Car? says...
These days, promoting a business is usually done via social media, adverts or leaflets through letterboxes, but an electric van like this Citroën Ami Cargo can do the job well too.
You see, the Ami is one of the most distinctive and head-turning vehicles you can buy right now, so it could be ideal for attracting attention to your enterprise.
So, what exactly is an Ami Cargo? Well, it's the commercial version of the Citroën Ami and, strictly speaking, we shouldn't call it a van – it's a quadricycle. In place of the Ami's passenger seat, it has a cargo module designed to carry all sorts of work-related paraphernalia.
It's available with left-hand drive only, and you don’t need a full driving licence to drive one in the UK. You need a Category AM licence, which is essentially a moped licence that allows a holder over 16 years old to drive two-wheeled or three-wheeled vehicles at up to 28mph.
Does this van/quadricycle have any rivals? Well, sort of. The Citroën Ami Cargo is in a unique position because its next closest rivals are the passenger Ami or a used Renault Twizy. More directly, it goes up against car-based electric vans such as the Renault Zoe Van.
Is it worth your consideration? To find out, we’ve put it through its paces and rated it in all the important areas, including practicality, performance and comfort. We’ll tell you how it scored, and also have a look at how it stacks up against the competition.
Once you've decide which vehicle is best for you, remember that we can help you find the best leasing deals through our free What Car? Leasing section. It allows you to get a quote for whichever make and model fits your personal or business needs.
Or, if you plan to buy a car, make sure you search for the lowest prices using our free New Car Deals pages.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The Citroën Ami Cargo is powered by a tiny electric motor that’s located on the rear axle, and with just 8bhp on tap, it can reach a limited top speed of 28mph. Feeding the electric motor is a 5.5kWh battery, giving the 'van' an official range of 46 miles between charges.
Charging the battery to full takes just three hours from a standard three-pin socket. For comparison, if you get a used Renault Twizy electric car, its 7kWh battery should fully charge in 3.5 hours and give an official range of 50 miles.
Despite being electric and having a battery (which in most electric vans adds lots of weight), the Ami Cargo is very lightweight. This, plus the fact that the motor puts down its power instantly, means it’s quite good fun to drive. In a 20 or 30mph zone, you should have no trouble pulling away from traffic or nipping in and out of tight spaces and gaps. The steering is nice and light too, making it very easy to manoeuvre.
Despite being a box on wheels, it handles neatly during low-speed cornering. That said, the body does lean a fair bit if you need to make a sudden U-turn or if you’re nearing the 28mph top speed in a corner.
Speaking of U-turns, the Ami Cargo has a tiny 7.2m turning circle, so it's very manoeuvrable. Plus, at 1.4m wide, it can fit in parking spaces a small van can only dream of, and being left-hand drive, it's easy to park up against a kerb.
Overall, it works well in 20mph or 30mph zones, but if you regularly drive in areas above those limits (and above the model's top speed), you’ll find the fun wears off. Other road users tend to get frustrated by its lack of pace, and you don't feel very safe.
The battery range also limits the Ami Cargo’s appeal, and if you do higher miles, we’d recommend looking at the Renault Zoe Van. That can officially travel up to 245 miles between charges.
The Cargo's electric motor is fairly quiet, with just a slight whirring sound, so the interior is generally peaceful, although wind noise increases as you gain speed because of the relatively thin plastic body.
The interior layout, fit and finish
As a quadricycle rather than a full-blown van, the Citroën Ami Cargo has a fairly minimalist interior. You don’t get air-con or an infotainment screen, for example – just the bare essentials.
That means you get a heater fan with a single temperature and speed, plus a cooling fan with a single temperature and speed. Instead of an infotainment screen, you get an optional cradle for your smartphone, which you can then use to run the My Citroën app for navigation and other functions. There's a USB port to charge your phone next to the heater and fan buttons.
The Ami Cargo's interior quality is not particularly good, but all the plastics are fairly sturdy, so you don’t have to worry about scraping or bashing into it when loading. All of the surfaces can be easily wiped clean too.
One thing you notice when stepping inside is how airy and light the cabin feels. As a result, forward visibility is very good thanks to the sheer amount of glass you get around you. The side windows and front windscreen – which connects to a fixed sunroof – are large, and the pillars are slim.
That said, there’s no rear view mirror, so you do find yourself peering over your shoulder quite a bit when changing lanes. And, rather frustratingly, your view backwards isn’t as good as it is forwards because of the small rear window and thicker pillars. What’s more, there’s no sun visor to block out the sunroof, so you can often find yourself blinded by the sun.
The Ami Cargo’s driving position takes some getting used to, and that’s largely because the steering wheel is fixed in place and the driver’s seat only adjusts forwards and backwards. It can feel a little awkward at first (especially if you’re tall), but if you're in the right frame of mind, that can all add to a fun driving experience.
The driver’s seat is fairly comfortable for shorter journeys, but there's minimal padding, so your back can start to get sore if you’re on the road for long periods of time.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Bizarrely, the driver's door on the Citroën Ami Cargo hinges at the rear – as both doors do on the (very different in every other respect) Roll-Royce Wraith. However, the door on the other side opens normally, and behind it is the pièce de résistance: the Cargo module itself. And one of the great things about the module is that you can configure it to suit your needs.
For instance, in standard form, the module is essentially a storage box with a shelf that doubles as a desk, so you have somewhere to work while parked up. There’s an indentation on top of it for a clipboard or laptop.
The shelf is removable to make way for taller items, as is the floor of the module. The shelf is not very tightly fitted and can rattle around while on the move, and there are no hooks, straps or tie-down points to hold items or boxes in place.
In total, the Ami Cargo has a payload limit of 140kg with a total storage capacity in the module of 260 litres. The module shelf can carry another 40kg if needed. For comparison, the Renault Zoe Van has a payload of 387kg (in entry-level Business form) and a cargo capacity of 510 litres.
As for the rest of the interior, it has plenty of places to store things. For starters, the dashboard is made up of three large storage areas. There’s a cupholder that can double up as a slot for the optional portable speaker, and at the end of the module there’s a storage bin for hiding small items.
There are some wasted areas of the Cargo that could be used for storage, including the area behind the driver and storage module. There are no netted door pockets like the ones on the passenger Citroën Ami.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The Citroën Ami Cargo costs considerably less to buy than electric vans such as the Renault Zoe Van. However, it is considerably more compromised than those cars, with its low top speed, short battery range and tiny cargo capacity.
When it comes to specifying your Ami Cargo, things couldn’t be simpler. There’s only one version available that comes with LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, a USB charging socket, a heating fan, a cooling fan and steel wheels.
Unlike with the standard Citroën Ami there aren’t many personalisation options (other than adding Ami-specific accessories such as the Bluetooth speaker). If you wish to personalise your Ami Cargo with a company logo or livery, you'll have to source it externally.
Euro NCAP has not appraised the model for safety, but its plastic body suggests safety compromises. It offers more protection than a bike, but a traditional electric car will be much safer.
The Ami was too new to be included in our 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey but Citroën as a brand came 11th out of the 32 manufacturers in the overall league table. That's higher than Renault, in 18th place.
All Cargos come with a two-year unlimited mileage warranty, plus a three-year or 25,000-mile warranty for the battery.
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About the author
George Barrow is one of the leading van and truck reviewers, and is the UK’s only representative on the prestigious International Van of the Year jury. He has written about vans and commercial vehicles for the past 15 years, and can be found in titles including The Sun and What Van?, alongside What Car?.
Barrow is well regarded in the commercial vehicle industry, securing access to the latest models – and the people who made them – long before other titles.