Green Update: Audi A2 Concept—More Flash for Frankfurt

Audi A2 concept

According to many blog writers, and I would agree, Audi is out to make a smash at Frankfurt—and, incidentally, fill out its A-line with cars small and large. Its goal with the A2 concept, futuristic and glitzy, has to be to take market share from the MINI Cooper or Countryman.

It’s about the same size as the Cooper hatch, seats four more comfortably than the Cooper and stresses functionality and configuration in its interior. The floor is flat, the power is electric (“for agile performance and long range” – no other details), and the press release describes a bunch of radical lighting characteristics.

The designers are in love with LEDs. They’ve created special headlights, “intelligent” taillights that change brightness with road conditions and brake pedal pressure, plus a band of light that runs around the car:

Integrated approach sensors detect the owner and unlock the doors via gesture control. While driving, the dynamic light functions as a continuous side marker light. If the car’s indicator [turn signal?] is activated, light impulses run throughout the entire band of light.

Audi A2 concept, sideThere’s also a red laser fog light in back. A roof of dark glass turns transparent at the touch of a button.

All very cutting-edge indeed—except for the exterior, which still has touches of the Audi dowdy, to my way of thinking: the roofline, for instance, and the grille treatment.

Some believe this car will soon be in showrooms, but I wonder. The idea of a luxo electric subcompact has always made sense to me, and the MINI cars need competitors. But the A2, in its concept form at least, stresses form over function, gimmickry over real-world use. It’s just too clever and cute to succeed in the marketplace.

But if they get rid of some of the nonsense lighting gimmickry, which would lower the price, and give us an electric with diesel backup, the car might make it in the real world.

Does the emphasis on lighting and futurism in Audi’s A2 concept have real appeal to you—or is it just for show?

—jgoods

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3 Comments

  1. I can’t warm up to that blobby body/small greenhouse concept. In a small car, it’s a killer and who wants to climb into something that closes down over your head when you close the door.
    Audi is an upscale brand that tends to be able to justify the overpriced gadgets, but I’m not sure all that stuff is going to fly in these small cars. With a limited supply of dashboard and interior space, adding lots of gadgets can destroy any sense of space. On top of all that, expensive and heavy features like glass roofs also hurt a small car model and hurt efficiency. What’s the point of a small car that gets the mileage of a mid size? Add higher prices, and you have a deal killer as Chrysler will learn when they start trying to sell the Fiat in this country for close to $20K. The Audi will likely hit closer to 30K, which will probably not work for most consumers.

  2. Agree wholeheartedly with you. Just make better cars that are economical and affordable and without the distracting gadgetry. Now its laser headlights which sort of kills the LED hot innovation of the week. Stop it and make better cars.

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