Audi revives the A2 with show concept
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Audi has officially confirmed plans for a lightweight, electric successor to the A2, six years after the first-generation model ceased production.
Previewed by a four-seat concept car set to make its world debut at the Frankfurt auto show this month, the four-door hatchback retains the distinctive one-and-half-box silhouette, short overhangs and shallow greenhouse treatment of the original A2, still considered one of the most advanced small cars ever put into large-scale production because of its lightweight aluminum spaceframe construction and 1,973-pound curb weight.
But while the first-generation A2, launched in 1999, boasted a rounded, Bauhaus-inspired exterior design, the new A2 -- tentatively set to go on sale in 2013 -- gets a more technical appearance in keeping with other recent new Audi models. The new A2 is set to share elements of its chassis and underpinnings with the A1.
Key design features include a new interpretation of Audi's signature single-frame grille, angular headlamps, a short and gently angled hood, large wheel openings, a high waistline, a prominent shoulder -- or tornado line, as Audi prefers to call it -- a sloping roof and a near-vertical hatchback.
The concept's glass roof changes transparency at the push of a button, hinting of plans by Audi to offer an setup similar to the optional glass structure on the new Mercedes-Benz SLK.
Described as being 149.6 inches long, 66.5 inches wide and 58.7 inches tall, the concept is one inch shorter, 0.7 inch wider and 2.5 inches lower than the original A2. Like its predecessor, the new car also has been conceived around an aluminum spaceframe structure.
The concept also showcases the next phase in Audi's light-emitting diode technology, known as matrix beam. The headlamps use micro reflectors to generate a high-resolution, non-glaring high beam while the taillamps adapt their illumination to the visibility conditions. The rear fog light is seen as a beam of light and projects, via laser diodes, a red triangle onto the road as a warning.
Audi designers also have used LED technology to enhance the shoulder line with a band of light that contains dynamic light functions. While driving, the light functions as a continuous side marker. But when the turn signals are activated, light impulses run through the entire band, the idea is to improve safety. Integrated approach sensors are capable of detecting the owner and unlocking the doors via gesture control.
The original A2 was available with a limited range of three- and four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines. Audi has not yet disclosed details about the new A2's driveline. However, sources close to the German carmaker say it is planned to be sold with both a full electric and optional range-extended hybrid in a move mirroring that of the BMW i3.
Inside, the A2 concept provides seating for four. The bottom cushions of each seat fold to reveal storage space. The floor is described as being flat in a move that enables Audi to mount batteries low within the car's structure.
A high-tech dashboard is devoid of any traditional switchgear. All controls are concentrated on a pod that also supports the steering wheel, behind which sits a large color monitor offering Internet access among more traditional readouts. A secondary monitor, also supported by the pod, is mounted lower, alongside the driver's right thigh.
You can reach Greg Kable at firstname.lastname@example.org.