Audi A2: BMW i3 Rival?

The original Audi A2, launched at the turn of the 21st century, was something of a curate’s egg, and it achieved truly spectacular fuel economy figures (64.2mpg for the diesel version), too, thanks to its slippery low-drag body, extensive use of aluminium and efficient engines. But although the car was well-received by the press, its hefty price tag meant sales were sluggish and no replacement was planned when production ended in 2005.

Today, with low drag and high efficiency back on the agenda for most manufacturers, an all-new A2 is being put together by Audi for production in 2014. The biggest clue as to what the second generation A2 will be like came when Audi whipped the covers of an all-electric A2 concept at the Frankfurt show last year. Seemingly, Ingolstadt were taking to the fight to BMW's headline pure EV – the i3.

The concept’s Audi signature six-point grille was blanked-off to combat drag, whilst ‘matrix beam’ LED technology promised to powerfully light the road ahead without blinding oncoming traffic. That distinctive line running the length of the car from the front to rear light graphics lit up in correspondence with the brake lights and indicators to act as an extra warning to pedestrians and other road users, but apart from anything else, it's unique and looks fantastic.

Those hoping, however, for a spiritual successor to the original car may be disappointed. The production version will be a fair bit larger than the concept, owing to protests from focus groups that a car with the concept’s dimensions wouldn’t have enough luggage space. The production-spec A2 will now be built on the MQB platform which underpins the new Volkswagen Golf VII. Rather than doing battle with BMW’s aforementioned i3, as most of us originally thought it might, the car’s natural rivals will now include such as the Mercedes B-Class. Rather than a small-scale city car then, it seems the new A2 won’t be far off an A3 in size.

It also means the A2 won’t be an electric drive-only model. The platform will carry the usual variation of petrol and diesel combustion engines, although a plug-in hybrid version is on the cards, likely to use the same petrol-electric drivetrain being readied for use in the A3.

Will the new A2 be a forward-thinking successor to the original, or another niche-filler for Audi? The answer is probably a combination of the two, but we’ll have to wait until 2014 to find out for real.  

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