Audi A2 concept (2011) first official pictures

Published: 06 September 2011

The original Audi A2 was ahead of its time – it was small and fuel efficient, but its all-aluminium construction made it costly before the world was ready to pay a premium for a small car. But now it’s back, and to preview the new A2 being launched in 2015, Audi is unveiling this A2 concept car at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show next week.

What is the new Audi A2?

CAR knows that the new A2 will go into production as a premium-priced plug-in hybrid and EV in 2015. But before then there’s this A2 concept car, with a 85kW electric motor delivering torque peaks of 199lb ft to the front wheels via a single-speed transmission. In its current guise, complete with lithium-ion batteries mounted in the sandwich floor, Audi reckons the A2 has a 125-mile range, and will take four hours to recharge from a 240v household plug.

The A2 is 3804mm long, 1693mm wide, and 1494mm tall, making it ever so slightly smaller than the BMW i3 in all dimensions. And despite the electric powerplant and big glass roof (which can switch from white to opaque at the push of a button), the aluminium construction (and various CFRP parts) keeps the weights down to 1150kg. The baby BMW tips the scales at 1250kg.

The 0-62mph run takes 9.3 seconds, the top seed is limited to 93mph, the suspension is typical small car stuff (MacPherson front struts, torsion beam rear), while the steering and brake systems are purely electric, with no mechanical or hydraulic connection to the steering wheel or pedals. Not that you’d notice.

What about the styling of the new A2 concept?

Audi’s big single-frame grille dominates the nose, but the upper two-thirds aren’t for sucking in cooling air; instead the grille flips up, to reveal the charging socket. The bottom third is an air intake, with graphite foam cooling elements. Like the original A2, the bonnet doesn’t open, while the rear end bears a remarkable resemblance to the i3

There are LED headlights and tail lamps, connected by the ‘Audi Dynamic Light’, a band of LEDs running along the flanks of the A2 – it lights up blue when you unlock the car, shines orange when you’re driving (and flashes in sync with the indicators), and pulses red when you brake.

Is the Audi A2’s interior just as clever as the interior?

What there is of it, yes – calling it minimalistic would be generous. The Audi Dynamic Light features in here too, there’s a small pod of instruments for the driver, and a central infotainment screen. The EV powertrain negates the need for a transmission tunnel, the central armrest can be lowered to allow ‘free passage through the vehicle’, and heating or cooling air enters the cabin via disguised vents beneath the windscreen.

Tap both touchpads on the steering wheel simultaneously and the A2 switches to a semi-autonomous driving mode (best get your timing right). And while the car takes over and lets you stop concentrating on the road (doesn’t sound dangerous at all) you can surf the web thanks to the A2’s connectivity systems.

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By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy