Audi has officially confirmed plans for a lightweight, all-electric successor to the A2 – six years after the pioneering first generation model ceased production.
Previewed by this contemporary four-seat concept car set to make its world debut at next week’s Frankfurt motor show the five-door hatchback retains the distinctive one and half box silhouette, short overhangs, shallow glass house treatment and aluminium spaceframe construction of the original A2, still considered one of the most advanced small cars ever placed into large scale production.
But while the first generation model, launched in 1999, boasted a rounded exterior design, the new second generation A2, tentatively due to go on sale in 2013, receives a more technical appearance in keeping with other recent new Audi models, most notably the A1, with which the new car is planned to share elements of its chassis and underpinnings.
Described as being 3800mm in length, 1690mm in width and 1490mm in height, the latest Audi concept is 26mm shorter, 17mm wider and 63mm lower than the original A2.
Key design features, as revealed by Audi’s latest concept, include a newly interpreted blanked off version of Audi’s signature single frame grille, angular headlamps, short and gently angled bonnet, large wheel houses, high waist line, prominent shoulder – or tornado line as Audi prefers to call it, sloping roof and near vertical hatchback.
The glass roof of the concept alters its transparency at the push of a button, hinting of plans by Audi to offer an electro-magnetic arrangement similar to the optional glass structure on the new Mercedes-Benz SLK.
As well as previewing the smart look of new A2, the new concept also showcases the next phase in Audi’s LED technology, known as matrix beam. The headlamps use so-called micro reflectors to generate a high resolution, non glaring high beam while the tail lamps adapt their illumination to the visibility conditions and the rear fog light is seen as a beam of light and projects, via laser diodes, a red triangle onto the road as a warning.
Audi designers have also used LED technology to enhance the shoulder line with a band of light that contains dynamic light functions. While driving, the light functions as a continuous side marker. But when the indicators are activated, light impulses run through the entire band to improve safety. Integrated approach sensors are capable of detecting the owner and unlock the doors via gesture control.
The original A2 was available with a limited range of three- and four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. Audi is yet to reveal details to the new A2’s driveline. However, sources close to the German car maker say it is planned to be sold with both a standard electric and optional range extended assisted driveline in a move mirroring that of BMW with its new i3, which is also set to make its public premiere at the Frankfurt motor show.
Inside the A2 concept provides seating for four on a quartet of individual seats. The squabs of each seat fold to reveal storage space, while the floor is described as being flat in a move that enables Audi to mount batteries to power the car’s electric motor low down within the car’s structure.
A hi-tech dashboard has been designed to provide the interior with a clean and uncluttered look devoid of any traditional switchgear. All controls are concentrated with a pod that also supports the steering wheel, behind which sits a large colour monitor offering internet access among more traditional readouts. A secondary monitor, also supported by the pod, is mounted lower down alongside the driver’s right thigh.