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Audi A2

The Audi A2 is a premium supremini produced by Audi from 1999 to 2005. The last cars left the Neckarsulm plant in July 2005.

Design and construction

The A2 is considered to be ahead of its time in design terms—but the avant-garde styling has not won favour with customers.

Audi was reported to be disappointed with the level of sales; The final production is estimated to be 175000 units. In comparison to rival Mercedes-Benz' A-Class sales of 1 million, this unhappiness on the part of Audi is not surprising.

The A2 is built using considerable aluminium alloy content, providing significant weight advantage over similar sized cars. This helps the car to be significantly more economical than vehicles using traditional chassis; under certain circumstances, consumption of just over 2 l/100 km (128 mpg, imperial gallon) is possible. The Audi A2 won the Nordic Countries EcoRun economical driving race in 2005 with consumption of 2.62 l/100 km. Even the normal petrol engined versions are capable of 5 l/100 km.

The A2 uses a space frame design: the outer panels of the body have no structural function - similarities exist with the original Renault Espace—and the "space frame" bears the forces working on the car. Due to the decision to create "knots" instead of welding the space frame, improvements in shell stability, shell durability, lower weight, and better interior space are evident. Unfortunately, the cost of working with aluminium, particularly with small production runs, meant that the A2 was more expensive than its competitors. This may have contributed to the relatively slow sales in conjunction with the dearth of marketing from Audi.

Audi was the first manufacturer to try and incorporate lightweight building concepts using Aluminium and associated alloys into a "mass market" vehicle; the previous efforts at using a Space Frame were limited to the rather more expensive A8. As a guide to the mass involved: the entire shell weighs so little that two people can easily pick it up; the side panel over the doors including the A and D-Pillars weighs approximately 2 kg (4.5 lb). A 2002 Model A2 with standard equipment has a mass of 895 kg (1970 lb).

The A2 can, however, thus be considered a trailblazer for various newer aluminium-based vehicles, such as the present A8, forthcoming Nuvolari and TT and the present Jaguar XJ and XK8 series.

Properties

The A2 was produced in Neckarsulm in Germany. It was the first five-door vehicle on sale in Europe whose average fuel consumption is less than 3 l/100 km (94 mpg, imperial gallon), although these figures only applied to a special "3L" version with a diesel engine and narrower tyres. Due to the construction, the average A2 weighs less than 1000 kg (2200 lb), and this results in excellent fuel returns for all engines, not to mention superb chassis dynamics.

The A2 has for its size remarkable interior space, including a boot larger than the next model in Audi's range, the A3. This is due mainly to the "sandwich"-type construction, similar again to that of the Renault Espace or the Mercedes A-Class, which enables the floorpan to have an upper and a lower portion. The space in the middle can be used to house various components, such as the fuel tank and the engine's electronics. The rear passengers also benefit, as their foot space reaches into this sandwich space, creating a comfortable seating position even for tall rear seat passengers. This is in direct contrast to the comfort available on the rear bench of an A-Class. To improve the weight distribution of the vehicle, its battery is located inside the boot, under the floor.

Audi also has a version of the A2 in its Neckarsulm plant which has been converted into a pickup by trainees - the "A2 Caddy". This was on public show for the first time at the A2-Club of Germany's annual meeting in Amberg, Germany, in August 2005.

Service Panel / "Serviceklappe"

The front of the car features an interesting design note called the "Serviceklappe" in German - this translates to "Service Panel". On early cars, this was a glossy black panel at the lower edge of the bonnet / hood; behind it are the filling points for oil and screenwash fluid, the dipstick - in other words, in the daily use of the car, the bonnet does not need to be taken off.

This comes over badly with guys, who want to stand around with the bonnet up; the girls find it generally good that they don't have to get dirty hands to fill screenwash. The Service panel is the most obvious indicator of a car's provenance, since it was changed for the first color.storms to being matt black and flat; for Model year 2004 it was changed to have "grill slats". Since the panel is solid, this could be seen as an indication of Audi's efforts to try and make the car "more normal".

The panel is fastened using two Torx screws and several clips, so updating the look of a car is quite simple. Very little else was changed externally; colours and wheels were changed mildly during the production run. The only other external indicator of the age of the car is the windscreen wiper; very early models have a traditional blade, where newer ones have a "flex" version. This change was made for Modelyear 2002.

The Bonnet itself weighs about 8kg (17lb), so it is easily carriable, but it is large and unwieldy. It is very easy to scratch the corners which are normally next to the windscreen! To remove: release the service panel, then turn the two exposed knobs. They will pop out after one third of a turn or so. Lift from the panel, ease the bonnet backwards, and then you can unclip from the "hinge" at the windscreen. Replacement: hook in at the windscreen, ease into place, turn and push the knobs, and close the panel.

Technical Information

Three cylinder diesel engines

Petrol engines

Acceleration 0-100 km/h (62 mph) / Top Speeds

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