The History Of AUDI A2
The Audi A2 is a premium supermini produced by the German automaker Audi from 1999 to 2005. The last cars left the Neckarsulm plant in July 2005. Based on the Audi Al2 concept car first shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1997, the A2 (internally designated Typ 8Z) was notable for being constructed from aluminium.
The A2 was considered to be "ahead of its time" in design terms—but the avant-garde styling did not win favour with customers. Audi was reported to be disappointed with the level of sales; the final production is estimated to be 175000 units. This is in comparison to rival Mercedes-Benz' A-Class sales of 1million.
The A2 was produced at Audis' Neckarsulm plant in Germany. It was the first five-door vehicle on sale in Europe whose average fuel consumption is less than 3L/ 100km (94mpg-imp; 78mpg-US), 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).
The A2 has a remarkably large fan base for a car that did not sell in extremely large numbers. There are over 4,000people who have joined the Audi A2 Owners Club (A2OC). Due to vast increases in fuel price over Europe in recent times, the A2 has proved a successful second hand choice of vehicle due to its low running costs.
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/ 100km (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/ 100km. Even the normal petrol engined versions are capable of 5 l/ 100km. The A2 was also notable for being the first Audi model since the 1970s Audi 50 not to be offered with a four wheel drive quattro option.
The A2 uses an Audi 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 second-generation Audi A8 and TT, and the X350 Jaguar XJ and 2006 Jaguar XK.
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.
Service Hatch / "Serviceklappe"
The front of the car included an unusual design feature called the "Serviceklappe" in German — this translates to "service hatch" or "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 screen wash fluid, and the dipstick. Thanks to these features, in the daily use of the car the bonnet does not need to be raised.
The service hatch is the most obvious indicator of the age of any particular A2; it was changed to matte black for the "color.storm" colour schemes, and for model year 2004 it acquired fake grille slats.
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 ("Aerotwin" from Bosch, model 760). This change was made for model year 2002.
The service panel was widely rumoured to be another example of making it virtually impossible for a car's owner to service a car without taking it to a workshop. Other than refilling operating fluids, the engine, for example, was said to be highly inaccessible and working on auxiliary components almost universally required the use of a tail lift. Actually, the bonnet is easily removed, being held in place by two twist-lock catches. It then comes away from the car altogether, unlike the usual flip-up arrangement on most other cars.
Audi also has a version of the A2 in its Neckarsulm plant which has been converted into a pickup truck 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.
In 2006 it became known that Audi plans to launch a more conventional Audi A1 model around 2009 to compete with the MINI.
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