After providing some initial renderings of its new A2, the folks at Audi have decided to go all-out – almost – and provide more complete images and a few more details about the new battery minicar making its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week.
As we earlier noted, American motorists are used to equating price with pounds and inches. The bigger and heavier the better. But Europeans recognize that good things often come in small packages. And with fuel prices surging to nearly $10 a gallon in some Continental markets there’s growing demand for small luxury cars like the Audi A2.
What Europeans have lagged behind on is the adoption of hybrid technology. Diesels have long been the fuel-efficient powertrains of choice. But, with government regulators there pushing for numbers that will approach 100 mpg in not that many years, there seem to be few options but for automakers like Audi to accept the need for electrification.
After initially holding back on details, the maker has now confirmed that the Audi A2 Concept will feature an all-electric driveline that appears to position the anticipated production version as a response to the upcoming i3 battery-electric vehicle, or BEV.
The Audi minicar features an 85 kW, or 116 horsepower, electric motor. With 199 lb-ft of torque, it should deliver a reasonably impressive launch feel — hitting 0 to 60 in about 9 seconds and topping out at 93 mph – thanks to the extensive use of carbon fiber and aluminum, much like the BMW i3. The total package weighs in at around 2,535 pounds, Audi reports.
The lithium-ion powerpack will need about 4 hours to charge on a 240-volt line and is expected to deliver about 125 miles range before running out of juice.
Measuring just over 12 feet, bumper-to-bumper, Audi describes the four-seat A2 Concept as a “premium-class space concept.” It’ll be a trick to pull that off considering the comparably-sized Mini Cooper fits four but just barely, despite its own innovative interior layout.
There is a more than subtle similarity in exterior design to Audi’s Q5 crossover, with a strong character line linking headlamps and taillights. That’s actually a functional part of the new car’s design, with the line made up of red LED lamps that pulsate when the turn signal is activated and flash in varying intensity to indicate how hard the driver has stomped onto the brake pedal.
The high-tech lighting also includes new matrix-beam headlamps that use reflectors to concentrate the power of the A2’s LED lights. In the rear, laser diodes can project a red triangle onto the road to warn oncoming traffic when the vehicle is stopped.
Meanwhile, Audi takes keyless entry a step further with a proximity sensor designed to recognize an authorized driver. Hand motions can then be used to unlock the doors.
Inside, passengers won’t feel so claustrophobic thanks to the sweeping panorama of glass – which includes an electrochromic roof that can switch from dark to transparent with the touch of a button.
A 7-inch LCD display provides critical driver information, framed by the steering wheel, with smaller displays offering additional controls and data. Most vehicle functions can be operated by touch using controls on the inside of the wheel.
The thin seats can all be moved – - or removed – as necessary, and even fold up to provide additional storage space.
While many of the features of the new Audi A2 Concept aren’t likely to find much use off the show stage it appears the German marque is serious about the production opportunities. While there might be a more conventional powertrain in the plans, as well, Audi’s focus seems to be on coming up with an answer to the battery-based BMW i3, which is set for launch in 2013. The Audi A2 is reportedly set to follow two years later.