For Ingolstadt, the A2, as Audi kept reminding us in the late Nineties predating the car’s launch, was not a cheap Audi but a small Audi. And paying the cost took a lot of convincing, which in the end Audi wasn’t able to do. The A2 was killed off by Volkswagen Group boss Bernd Pischetsrieder in 2005 after six years of production.
But the A2, was kind of revolutionary… Pischetsrieder came in right in the middle of its life in 2002, succeeding Ferdinand Piëch, and immediately faced hard choices. He killed off expensive dreams like the Volkswagen Nardo supercar and tried everything to put an end to Piëch’s pet project, the Phaeton. The money-sucking A2 however was quietly forgotten.
It was a confusing car because it was unlike any other, a supermini that was actually a minivan, too, with expensive all-aluminium construction that was way ahead of its time and ironically helped spell the car’s doom. The A2 was by far the lightest car in class and the most aerodynamic, and Audi’s investment into it went as far as a dedicated production line in Neckarsulm with the latest alloy welding equipment. Unfortunately, less than 200,000 were ever built, which was a disaster considering Merc was selling a million A-Class models.
Consumers were scared away by the cost of the avant-garde Audi — it would take years for Jaguar to do the all-alloy XJ
and others — and aluminium repairs would often be pricier than the second-hand value of the vehicle itself. Most insurers would just write off an A2 for minor damage as a result, citing a lack of means to repair the car properly, even if the airbags didn’t activate after minor shunts. The A2 was just too far ahead of its time and too costly to produce for the segment.