The Body Beautiful

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), August 19, 2005 | Go to article overview

The Body Beautiful


Byline: By Mike Torpey

Audi's quirky looking A2 remains a masterpiece of compact engineering for a number of reasons.

Not only was it the German producer's smallest offering in 26 years, but also the world's first volume production car to feature a bodyshell made entirely of aluminium.

In fact, the five-door hatchback's body is 43 per cent lighter than it would be if built from steel, which means better economy, swifter acceleration and quicker braking.

Hence the use of a 1.4-litre engine that performs like a more powerful unit. It delivers 75bhp at 5,000rpm, 0-62 acceleration in 12 seconds, 107mph top speed and fuel consumption of 47mpg.

A high torque 1.4 diesel option - one of the smoothest for its size and sufficiently strong to keep up with traffic - boosts the economy figure to nearer 65mpg. But while these two units have been responsible for the lion's share of sales, the 110bhp 1.6-litre engine that arrived three years ago this month is also a cracker.

Its trump card is petrol direct injection, which means there's more power than you would expect for its cubic capacity.

Where the A2 really scores, however, is with its interior design and space. A split-level floor with rear footwells lower than those in front opens up considerably more room in what is a small area.

So with deeper footwells, even the tallest of rear passengers has decent legroom, while the car's overall shape allows for plenty of headroom too.

Lift the tailgate to discover more common sense. Larger than most boots anyway, there's a split level load area separated by a folding floor panel. It means shopping or luggage can be put in two distinct sections. If that's not enough, the back seats can be folded down, tumbled forward or removed.

Another neat touch is a folding flap, which replaces the customary radiator grille and flips open to reveal the dipstick and lubricant filler caps.

This means the bonnet has to be lifted only during servicing - every 19,000 miles. …

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