1999 Audi A2. (source: Audi)
Audi A2 - fascinating technology and a new form of agility.
At Audi, visions are rapidly transformed into reality: when Audi unveiled the design study of an aluminium-bodied car under the name of Al2 at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show, it was giving the automotive world a glimpse of the shape of things to come.
Just two years on, at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show, Audi will be presenting the production model based on that design study: the Audi A2. With its refined ASF Audi Space Frame, this is the first volume-production car in the world to have a body made entirely from aluminium.
The A2 is another example of how Audi's designers have striven to preserve the progressive design of the underlying concept, the Al2, throughout the maturing process. With its striking shape, the A2 reinforces Audi's claim of setting new standards of automotive design. The car's shape at the same time conveys the utterly distinctive character of a concept which again underlines Audi's capabilities as a pioneer of new technology.
The A2 ingeniously and systematically exploits Audi's wealth of experience in pioneering lightweight construction. The use of the Audi Space Frame means that the aluminium body of the A2 is around 43 percent lighter than if it were made from steel, using conventional techniques. Its tare weight of only 895 kg is the lowest in its class. The A2's fuel consumption is consequently below that of other cars of a comparable performance. And its low weight makes it particularly agile.
Despite its overall length of only 3.82 m, the A2 does not leave its occupants short of space: this is a fully-fledged car with a remarkably spacious interior. Its name deliberately reflects its status as a mainstream model within the Audi range. With this car only 1.67 m wide, 1.55 m high and above all an amazingly pragmatic use of interior space, occupants of the A2 will find it surprisingly roomy inside. The "Space Floor Concept", with the rear footwells lower than those ahead of the front seats, creates significantly more space for rear passengers and allows them to assume an unbeatably relaxed, anatomically correct seated position.
The interior is also remarkable for its versatility. The rear seats of this four-seater car can be folded down either individually or together. They can be removed entirely, for ease of transporting bulky items such as cycles.
Two engine versions of the A2, each with a displacement of 1.4 litres, will be on display at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show. The A2 with the high-torque three-cylinder TDI engine, an output of 55 kW (75 bhp) and pump-nozzle injection, clocks up 100 km on only 4.2 litres of diesel fuel, accelerates from 0 to 100 in 12.1 seconds and reaches a top speed of 173 km/h.
The A2 with four-cylinder spark-ignition engine, which again develops 55 kW (75 bhp), produces similar performance data and requires on average only 6.1 litres of fuel per 100 km (overall values acc. to 93/116 EC); it is classified as low-pollution according to EU4 legislation. Both versions have a 5-speed manual gearbox.
The A2's progressive design reconciles two apparent contradictions: agility and robustness. Whereas the gently ribbed roof and expansive rear window are indicative of its lightness and subtlety, the sturdy, high-shouldered vehicle body creates an impression of considerable substance, indicating security and protection.
The clear-cut lines, with accentuated joins and deliberately geometrical wheel arches, reflect its distinctive formal idiom. The Audi A2's front end is particularly striking. Its key features are the bumpers, which lie virtually flush with the body itself, and the eye-catching design of the headlights.
The outstanding drag coefficient of 0.28 is the best in this vehicle category.
The Audi A2 also redefines the standard when it comes to ease of servicing. It is the world's first production car to have a "service module". On the Audi A2, a folding flap with a high-gloss painted finish takes the place of the conventional radiator grille; the oil dipstick and filler caps for engine oil and washer fluid are readily accessible behind this flap, for maximum convenience. In other words, the engine hood itself will generally only need to be opened in the workshop, for servicing purposes. With relative infrequency, at that. Because Audi's extended service intervals - 2 years or 30,000 km for spark-ignition engines and 50,000 km for TDI engines, whichever is the sooner - likewise apply to the A2.
The A2's suspension combines ultramodern electronic components, such as ABS anti-lock braking as standard, EBD electronic brake-force distribution and the ESP electronic stability program, with the proven technology of a McPherson spring-strut axle at the front and a torsion-beam rear axle.
As on the Audi A8, the ASF structure constitutes an ideal basis for high passive safety, with the Audi Space Frame made from high-strength aluminium- profiles surrounding the occupants like a protective cage. Driver, front passenger and side airbags are fitted as standard, and Audi's SIDEGUARD safety system is available as an optional extra.
The A2 fulfils various seemingly irreconcilable contradictions: it is a common-sense car that is nevertheless not dull; its fuel consumption is low, but it is still fun to drive; its exterior dimensions are compact, yet it is exceptionally spacious inside.
Thanks to its systematic design, fascinating technology and unconventional features such as the "Open Sky" system - a glass roof available as an equipment option - the Audi A2 creates an entirely new premium class within the compact car segment.
The A2, a car designed for the 21st century, is a fully-fledged member of the Audi model range; Audi is planning to launch a version capable of covering 100 km on only three litres of fuel before the end of the year.
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