Paul Horrell14 September 2011

Frankfurt 2011: Audi A2 concept

Like an eccentric old friend that’s been away too long, the returning Audi A2 gets a warm welcome from us

At the moment this all-new Frankfurt show car carries a great big ‘concept' sticker. But Audi's chief engineer Michael Dick told us there will be a production version. And he's chucking huge engineering creativity at it, because it's not just another supermini. It's Audi's answer to the BMW i3, he says.

Like the original A2 it's an ultra-compact lightweight four-seater, and will sell as a super-expensive eco-car. Though not as expensive as an i3, says our man. Don't know how he knows - BMW is being secret-squirrel about i3 prices.

Design boss Stefan Sielaff (who worked on the original A2 too) says this one doesn't have to be as aerodynamic as the original was, because it's an electric car so is intended more for the urban sprawl, not high-speed motorways.

Instead what matters here is compactness, light weight and good visibility out. And ‘communication with the world' - that means the stripe of light along the side. It acts as a full-length indicator and brake light, telling cyclists and pedestrians on the pavement what you're up to.

The battery is under the floor, so it's roomy inside. That's happening on the real car too. Mind you, inevitably some of the concept ideas won't make production. It's got steer-by-wire (little more that an engineer's fantasy) and seats like the stools at some hip hotel's bar.

What will stay is a construction of aluminium frame with some added super-light and rigid carbon fibre. It's engineered to accelerate a bit quicker than a regular diesel Audi hatch, thanks to a torquey 115bhp electric motor. It'll go more than 100 miles on a four-hour 240V charge. It needs only that relatively quick recharge because its slimline 1150kg weight means it doesn't need much electricity to accelerate.

Unlike the last A2, it won't come as a diesel or pure petrol, though. Michael Dick tells us categorically there will be just two choices. One's a pure-electric version like the concept car. The other has a petrol supplementary engine, possibly (Dick refused to confirm or deny it) a tiny Wankel like last year's A1 e-tron concept. Neither version of the A2 will be cheap, but at least anyone who shells out won't have much to pay for fuel.

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