We’ve no idea what Kate Humble is doing here, apart from offering the the most jaunty of poses. Maybe she’s a Star Wars fan? Anyway, she’s not important here. The A2 however, is very important. Not only is it a great little car, it’s also an engineering marvel, miles from any other car in its class in terms of technology and design. No surprise really – if Audi were going to build something so out of character it had to be pretty special.
Born in 1999, the A2 was the road-going interpretation of the earlier Al2 concept – which looked even more like R2-D2. It came about when Audi charged its designers with the task of building a car that would comfortably seat four adults. It also had to be economical and crucially, to paraphrase the company itself, the new design had to be a small Audi, not a cheap Audi. Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the concept itself…
No, wait, that’s not right…
…that’s the badger.
Constructed using space-frame principles via the mediums of aluminium, a collection of lightweight alloys and a lot of clever German thinking, the A2 ended up weighing about as much as a thimble. If you then strap a 16-valve 1.4 engine to a thimble, much like Audi did, you find yourself getting 60mpg. That’s a good thing these days, especially as petrol stations have recently started accepting children as payment, such is the cost of the golden go-go juice.
They also built a diesel version which achieved somewhere in the region of four lifetimes to the gallon, but they’re a bit more to buy than the petrol versions, and they tend to wear higher miles. However, if you can find one with full history, it will be a worthwhile buy.
It was, and still is a fantastic car. It’s comfortable, it’s incredibly economical and it doesn’t cost much to run. Sadly though, because it was built from aluminium, funky metal alloy, frankincense and so on, its OTR (on the road) price was far higher than other cars in its class. The result? It was a sales disaster. That, however, means you can now pick one up for hardly anything. The A2 is now one of those cars that’s never bought by accident. It’s never just ‘a car’. The folk who tend to buy them are people in the know, so they lead well-looked-after lives, generally speaking.
So, there you have it. Petrol is expensive, Audi A2s aren’t and they don’t use much er, petrol. Oh, and it’s great for Star Wars fans. Beep boop wheee been boop wap beep!
But seriously, if you want a cool car that’s safe, fun and cheap to run, the A2 is hard to beat.