Audi A2 front exterior

Audi A2 | Cars that were ahead of their time

Audi A2 | Cars that were ahead of their time

When the Audi A2 went on sale in the late 1990s, the world wasn’t ready for a posh small hatchback with the high price of a much larger car, and it went out of production in 2005, never to be replaced.

When Audi began designing its new small car, it had a clear mission statement: “Create a small Audi, not a cheap Audi.” As a result, the A2 had the same deep paint finish and tight panel gaps that saw buyers flocking to its A4 and A6 saloons.

But the A2 was also cleverer than its larger siblings. Under its smart finish lurked a lightweight aluminium space frame chassis. This meant the A2 – safe, well-built, and with genuine space for four adults – weighed about the same as the Peugeot 106 without any of those attributes.

The benefits of being small and light were twofold. The A2 was one of the sweetest-handling cars in Audi’s line-up at the time, but it was also very efficient. Petrol models could top 45mpg, and the innovative diesel – with three cylinders and a turbo – nipped the heels of 70mpg.

Continental buyers got an even better option, a 1.2-litre diesel called the 3L because it could travel 100 miles on three litres of diesel, equating to a mammoth 94mpg and a 700-mile range from its thimble-like 21 litre fuel tank. Audi threw the kitchen sink at the 3L, giving it new seats, an alloy engine block and magnesium wheels to save weight, while also improving the car’s aero and adding an automated manual gearbox for efficiency.

Sadly, buyers couldn’t leap the hurdle that was the A2’s price, which meant the tiddly city car cost more than a Ford Mondeo.

We understand that every vehicle is unique, which is why our Agreed Valuation policies take the true value of your classic car into account.

Fast forward 20 years, and things couldn’t be more different. High-spec small cars are all the rage, and performance has taken a back seat to efficiency. Even the A2’s tall body is in vogue in the form of the sea of crossovers currently on sale.

If it had been sold now, the A2’s story could have been very different, as it is, it remains one of the hidden gems of Audi’s back catalogue and one well worth exploring if you want a cheap run around with some great engineering behind it.

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