New Audi: A2 Brute?
When they built it, from 1999 to 2005, the Audi A2 was a flop. Lots of Euro-car nuts like me loved it: a sub-Golf sized, lightweight (900kg), aluminum bodied four seater with great aerodynamics (CW 0.25). Its interior was beautiful and high-quality, it was quiet and it handled well. Ideal for city driving yet happy on the autobahn. This car was worlds ahead of the competition and left the Merc A-Class in the dust. I remember renting one TDI model with but 75 horses that felt happy and smoothe at 110 mph; I drove the hell out of it for a few hundred miles and still got 38 mpg. 50mpg was reported to be easy to attain. But the market hated it. It was pricey, and with gas prices low, it only looked like a sensible buy to tree-huggers. And the looks… the Bauhausian, spartan, slimline styling I loved was judged to be week-kneed and feminine.
Flash forward a few years, and prices for a used A2 are on a steady rise. And after months of discussion, Audi has decided to try it again. Autobild (print edition) reports honcho Rupert Stadler says “it would be practically negligent to neglect this segment.” Audi promises to stick to the original concept: more interior room than an A3, lower fuel consumption than the A1 will get. Higher priced than the A3 too… due to the higher cost inherent to using aluminum to save 150KGs of body weight. There will be more power at hand in the new A2, with engine output ranging from 60 to 210 HP. An A2 S2, that sounds just right to me. Set for the magic year 2010? No ma’am, this is a German company after all, so punters will have to wait until 2014. Hold on, will people even be driving cars by then?
The A2 was a good idea, however financially poorly executed. The car actually was Audis answer to the A class from Benz, but eventhough similiar in size , rated as a "sub-compact" versus the A class belonged to the lower end of the "compact class" thus directly competing with the Golf. Audi could not do that since they already had the A3 in the Golf-class, so they were screwed. People simply would not spend the amount for a compact vehicle in the sub-compact class as the efficiency of an automobile is not valued only through it`s mileage.Calling this vehicle "rational" at a sticker price (A2TDI-2005) of about EUR 27000 is laughable and proofs an attitude that as long as it came out of the German's ass it must be good. Well, the market decided differently. That`s why it´s gone and if Audi thinks that they can revamp this idea on the same token-good luck.
But it *was* good, dadude! In fact, it was great! It had almost as much interior space as the A4, same comfort, same speed, same crash-worthiness, much better fuel economy, on a much smaller footprint. Audi bet on rising fuel costs, lost the bet, and decided to cut its losses. A worthy but wrong decision. Toyota, in developing the Prius, decided to wager on. Who's the market smiling at now? Kudos to Audi for realizing they went wrong, and now want to do right.
@Martin I also loved the A2. The shape is brilliant, Peter Schreyer still considers it his best work, ahead of the TT. The biggest problems are the transmission problems in the 80mpg rated 1.2 TDI, and that women generally hate the styling. So I don't drive one.
Another reason to watch Peter Schreyer, Mirko. Hopefully, Kia will give him a chance to create something similarly significant. I agree with you on the "when mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" factor...