Nowadays, premium compacts and subcompacts are actually quite popular. Cars like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Volkswagen Up! and even the, well, MINI are all extremely popular in urban European cities. However, the car that sort of started it all was the original Audi A2 and it’s a car that, when looking back, was actually quite groundbreaking. In this new flashback from Autocar, we get to revisit the little Audi A2 and what made it so special.
Back in 1997, Audi revealed its plans to develop a small, compact, premium hatchback that could be both an efficient city car while also being a premium and well made. Critics and customers scoffed at the idea. Especially after Audi claimed it would be built on a similar all-aluminum spaceframe as the revolutionary Audi A8. Few thought the car would ever exist and for good reason.
Except it did. The Audi A2 was actually made and when it went on sale, it was incredibly impressive. Never before had there been a car of its size and cost with a lightweight aluminum spaceframe. That lightweight chassis meant it could have smaller engines to maximize fuel economy without making it too down on power. It also meant that Audi could make it tall and narrow, making it easier to park and maneuver but still giving it great interior space.
It was also a nippy little thing to drive, with surprisingly fun handling and better acceleration than anticipated. Combine that with space for four adults and some luggage and the Audi A2 was an excellent little premium compact car.
Unfortunately, it was expensive to make and it didn’t sell very well. So the A2 was eventually scrapped, even before its lifecycle’s planned ending. Which is unfortunate because had the A2 been successful, it likely would have spawned successors, which we could still have today.