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Frankfurt show: New Audi A2 revealed

Two to go: Audi’s all-new A2 should look a lot like the all-electric Frankfurt show concept seen here.

Audi goes for BMW’s i3 jugular with its all-electric A2 premium compact concept

Audi logo7 Sep 2011

TRUE to its word, Audi has dusted off the A2 nameplate not seen since the all-aluminium original was discontinued in Europe six years ago for this futuristic city-car concept that will be the Ingolstadt car-maker’s answer to BMW’s ground-breaking i3 at next week’s Frankfurt motor show.

Continuing the tallboy proportions of its 1999-2005 namesake yet appearing just as modern as the sketches that previewed it a week ago, the five-door A2 concept belies its position within Audi’s alphanumeric model naming hierarchy by being smaller than the three-door A1 hatchback that currently opens Audi’s range from $27,300.

In fact, although it is one size up from Japan’s sub-3.5-metre ‘kei cars’, at just 3800mm long, 1690mm wide and 1490mm high the A2 “technical study” is a whole 154mm shorter and 50mm narrower than the A1, while being more than 70mm taller.

With the 284mm difference in length between the A1 (3954mm) and the 4238mm A3 three-door, which was discontinued here in March to make way for the A1, Audi appears to have plenty of room to introduce a five-door A1 Sportback, just as the production A2 could spawn an even shorter three-door body style.

Significantly, the A2 concept is also slightly shorter than BMW’s all-new i3 electric and hybrid-powered hatch, which is 3845mm long - but much narrower and lower – and will hit European roads in 2013 – the same year the production A2 is expected to hit showrooms.

Despite its compact dimensions, Audi says the A2 is a “premium standard space concept that offers plenty of room for four people”, matching the i3 - although it comes with four conventional doors rather than a pair of opposed 'coach' doors on each side like the i3.

Like BMW’s first EV, which will break new ground by featuring a carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) modular body, the A2 concept will also appear at Frankfurt with a purely electric powertrain, which Audi describes only as a “powerful electric drive system for agile performance and long range”.

7 center imageIn fact, Audi has provided few hard details for the A2, which will be joined in Frankfurt by debuts of the all-new pint-size Urban Concept commuter vehicle, the A8 Hybrid limousine and fire-breathing new S6, S7 and S8 performance flagships.

Instead, it said the white-painted A2 concept features a dark glass roof that becomes transparent at the push of a button and next-generation ‘matrix beam’ LED headlights which comprise a package of LEDs and micro-reflectors that are said to generate a high-resolution and non-glaring high-beam light.

The show car’s LED low-beam lights are framed by “delicate daytime running light fibres”, while intelligent tail-lights adapt their illumination according to available visibility conditions and the laser-diode rear foglight projects both a beam of light in fog and a red triangle onto the road.

Audi’s lighting trickery continues with a dynamic light that runs below the glasshouse from front to rear on both sides of the car and is claimed to perform a number of innovative functions.

The German luxury giant says ‘gesture control’ unlocks the doors via integrated approach sensors that detect the car’s owner, while the dynamic light act as a “continuous side marker light”, shooting light impulses around the car when an indicator is activated.

At the rear, a red bar of light flows forward from the tail-lights during braking to reveal the level of deceleration to other drivers, while two separate arches of dynamic lights are located in the cockpit area, which contains a variety of touch-sensitive controls on the inside of the steering wheel.

A seven-inch display and two secondary screens reside in the centre of the steering wheel, while two further control surfaces fold up to the driver’s right (in the left-hand drive concept) when the vehicle is started.

The centre console is attached to the driver’s seat and extends rearwards between the twin rear seats, which feature fold-up seat bases to reveal storage underneath, allowing for a completely flat interior floor and room for a bicycle (without its front wheel) between the rear seats.

Apart from obligatory aluminium interior highlights, Audi says the A2 show car’s interior features door skins made from polyurethane with a neoprene surface feel, while the central floor area is trimmed in a ribbed material made from recycled polyester and the seat shells are made with a plastic blow-moulding technique.

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