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Autocar Looks Back at the Innovative Audi A2

Back in the late ’90s, Audi was hard at work developing a new city car that was designed to offer space, practicality, a premium cabin, typical Audi comfort, and — most importantly — efficiency. To do so, engineers in Ingolstadt threw everything but the kitchen sink at this compact, ultra-efficient city car and the results were impressive. That car was the Audi A2.

 

Sadly, the Audi A2 never really caught on in its day and it never sold in the numbers Audi had hoped it would. However, it’s starting to gain some traction now, as car enthusiasts are beginning to appreciate the A2 for what it was and are looking for A2s on the second-hand market. To find out why, Autocar takes a look back at it, which shows off just how impressive the little Audi A2 was, back in its own day.

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When I say Audi threw everything but the kitchen sink at the A2, I mean it. Audi gave the humble city car an all-aluminum space frame, similar to the one used by the Audi A8 at the time, the brand’s most expensive and high-tech car. The result was a curb weight of just 899 kg (1,981 lbs), in a car that could seat five and had a practical trunk. Gordon Murray would be proud.

Audi A2 2002

 

Sure, its engine was small, a tiny 1.4 liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder, making just 75 horsepower. However, with that curb weight, it was actually about as quick as a 1.6-powered VW Golf, while being more refined. Its smooth four-pot was mated to a five-speed manual that had surprising tactility and precise engagement. To keep it fun to drive, Audi sacrifices a bit of ride comfort for nippy handling, by fitting McPherson front strut suspension with a torsion-bar rear suspension. So it was fun but a bit stiff.

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Later in its life cycle, Audi upgraded to a larger 1.6 liter four-cylinder engine that made 108 horsepower and then even offered a 1.4 liter diesel, with 88 horsepower. However, in 2005, Audi killed the A2 off and plans for a successor were scrapped.

 

It’s unfortunate that the Audi A2 never caught on and was never given a second chance. Technically, it was a massively impressive car, one that had far more engineering expertise than its size and affordable price suggested. What’s ironic is the A2 would fit our current automotive market perfectly, with our need to bring emissions down and fuel economy up. Its compact size, fuel efficient nature, quirky good looks, and premium cabin would likely make it popular today. If the Audi A2 were sold in America, I’d buy one tomorrow.

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[Source: Autocar]
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Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.