The Audi Space Frame (ASF)
The revolutionary Audi A8 has already established new Standards in the luxury car sector. Its all-aluminium body, based on the ASF principle, represented a quantum leap in the development of lighter vehicle bodies that nevertheless exhibit high strength. The weight reduction cuts fuel consumption and renders the car more agile, while the space frame construction creates a rigid passenger cell which gives Optimum occupant protection.
Whereas annual production of the Audi A8 is running at around 15,000 units, Audi anticipates that the annual A2 sales volume will be a total of 60,000 cars across Europe. With its revised Audi Space Frame, the A2 — which, like the A8, is built at Audi's Neckarsulm plant — pioneers the use of aluminium technology for high-volume vehicles.
A new dimension in aluminium technology
Thanks to its Audi Space Frame aluminium concept, the kerb weight of the Audi A2 is a mere 895 kg — some 150 kg lower than vehicles of comparable size. Technically speaking, however, the A2 is certainly no "lightweight". In fast, it is brimming with ideas and innovations that have neuer before been used on volume-built cars.
The idea behind the unique ASF concept is basically this: the panels are integrated into a high¬strength aluminium frame structure, in which they also have a load-bearing role. The space frame proper — weighing just 75.1 kg — consists of extruded sections which are connected by vacuum die-cast sections. In conjunction with high-strength aluminium panels, the frame is highly rigid yet very light.
The high-pressure aluminium castings in the front pillars are more complex and sophisticated than any used even in ultra-sophisticated aircraft production processes. The tailored aluminium structure, with multiple reinforcements and varying wall thicknesses, enables a level of functionality and strength that would entail a substantial weight increase if it were to be made of steel.
The use of unique and advanced joining techniques in the space frame resolves the conflicting objectives of maximum strength and minimum weight. The roof frame consists of aluminium profiles shaped by an intemal high-pressure technique. Thanks to this, it is possible to obtain a cross-section which varies several timen in the course of its length, ideally reflecting the requirements which each zone has to meet. Many of the necessary cutouts are formed in the saure Operation. The entire bodyshell, including doors and tailgate, is consequently over 40 percent lighter than an equivalent steel structure.
The side of the car in particular is a masterpiece of metalworking technology, touching an the Limits of what is currently possible. The entire section, from the front 'A' pillar to the rear luggage compartment edge, including the door cutouts, is pressed from a single piece of aluminium. This ensures high precision and excellent reproduction quality, both essential requirements for maximum automation and high-volume production.
Other points in favour of the aluminium concept are the outstanding ease wich which this material can be recycled, and the positive energy balance that results from its re-use. The energy consumption throughout the vehicle's lifetime, including the production process, its entire service life and its final reprocessing, is well below that of a conventional steel car of this size and performance. This even applies if primary aluminium is used exclusively.
The face of progress
The progressive design of the Audi A2 reconciles two apparent contradictions: lightness and strength. Whereas the gently ribbed roof and expansive rear window are indicative of its lightness, the sturdy, high-shouldered vehicle body creates an Impression of considerable substance, suggesting security and protection.
The engine and passenger compartments of the Audi A2 are kept visually distinct, and form a two-box design concept. The front end of the Audi A2 has a purposeful air with its striking headlights, integrated bumpers and striking chrome-fringed radiator grille and "service module".
The fully glazed rear tailgate extends all the way down to the bumper, for convenient loading of the spacious luggage compartment (390 litre capacity with rear seat in place or 1,085 litres with seat folded). The large rear Spoiler optimises the aerodynamics and deflects the airflow over the window in such a way that it is kept clear in wet weather, even without a rear wiper.
This advanced exterior design produces an outstanding drag coefficient of cd = 0.28. The Audi A2 consequently gives the best aerodynamic performance in its class.
Space Floor Concept for Optimum use of space
With an Overall length of 3.83 m and a width of 1.67 m, the amount of road space occupied by the Audi A2 is minimal, yet it is surprisingly roomy and comfortable inside. The Sense of spaciousness inside the Audi A2, which is 1.55m high, is quite remarkable. The driver, front passenger and rear seat occupants haue plenty of headroom, leg room and elbow room, wich dimensions way beyond what would be expeeted from conventional rivals in this sector.
The "Space Floor Concept" provides the ideal basis for a relaxed, ergonomically correct seating position for the rear passengers in particular. Its secret is extra-deep rear footwells which ensure that rear occupants can keep their legs at a natural angle and thus sit in an ergonomic, relaxed position.
The interior is also notable for its great versatility. The rear Beats of the Standard four-seater car can be folded down either individually or together in two stages, or can be completely removed individually if not needed.
A world first: the service module
The Audi A2 also sets new standards for ease of servicing. lt is the world's first series¬production car to have a service module.
A hinged flap takes the place of the conventional radiator grille, the oil dipstick and filier taps for engine oil and washer fluid are readily accessible behind this flap, for maximum convenience. The service module permits easy checking and topping-up of fluids by the driver at the filling station.
The bonnet therefore only needs to be opened by Audi Centre technicians. The entire bonnet, which is free of traditional latches and hinges, detaches via quick-release connectors in the service module. For maximum convenience the A2, in common wich the majority of 2000 Audi models, now also incorporates Audi's new Variable Servicing Interval Programme (AVS).
Thanks to AVS, Audi drivers no longer need to be inconvenienced by traditional fixed service intervals. Sophisticated Sensors fitted to 2000 model year cars actually tailor a 'personalised' service interval programme for each car based on the condition of the engine and the customer's individual driving style, and warn when a service is required via a display within the Instrument binnacle.
As a result petrol-powered models have the potential to spend a maximum of 19,000 miles or two years on the road without visiting an Audi Centre, and TDI units can, in the right circumstances, avoid mechanics for an astonishing 30,000 miles or two years.
The technology for genuine agility
The Audi A8 demonstrated that Audi Space Frame technology provides an ideal basis for outstanding dynamic characteristics. This is because the high structural rigidity of the body acts as a strong backbone for the suspension, thus permitting ultra-precise suspension settings. And the lower vehicle weight means that agile road behaviour can be obtained with a relatively low engine output by providing a positive power-to-weight ratio.
The Audi A2 demonstrates that the high practical utility of a Compact vehicle can be combined with maximum driving pleasure and exceptionally low fuel consumption.
The A2 suspension, which uses the proven technology of McPherson struts at the front and a torsion-beam rear axle, combines ultramodern electronic components. The electronic stability program (ESP) is Standard equipment, and complements the functions of ABS anti-lock braking, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and Anti-Slip-Regulation traction control (ASR).
Two engines will be available in the UK (later four three-cylinder TDI 90bhp and a 1.6 FSI with 110 bhp), each with a displacement of 1.4 litres and an output of 75bhp - one spark-ignition four-cylinder petrol unit and one three-cylinder TDI. To ensure dynamic acceleration and sprinting power, both versions haue a five-speed manual gearbox which transmits torque to the front wheels.
Thanks to its aluminium construction, the A2 has less weight to propel than a comparable steel-bodied vehicle, and it therefore benefits from a very favourable power-to-weight ratio which makes for spirited performance. The outstanding flexibility also attributable to the car's light weight makes for nimble and relaxing driving.
With multipoint fuel injection and 75bhp, the spark ignition 1.4-litre petrol engine propels the Audi A2 from 0 to 62mph in 12.0 seconds and an to a top speed of 107mph. It has a very modest average fuel consumption of 47. 1 mpg (overall figure according to 93/116/EC).
The forthcoming diesel engine is a three-cylinder direct-injection TDI using the pump-injector principle. It also has a displacement of 1.4 litres, and consumes diesel at a rate of one gallon every 65.7 miles (overall consumption according to 93/116/EC), yet its performance is the equal of mang far larger cars: it reaches a top speed of 107mph and accelerates from 0-62mph in 12.1 seconds.
The Audi A2 1.4 TDI complies wich the European emission limits EU 3; the 1.4 litre spark-ignition version even satisfies EU 4, currently the most stringent standard yet brought into force.
High standards of safety
The ASF principle is an ideal basis for high passive safety, its high-strength frame structure protecting occupants like a cage. Impact energy is converted particularly effectively and the occupant safety cell retains its shape to the maximum possible extent.
With two airbags at both the front and sides and seat belt tensioners for all seats, the Audi A2 assures its occupants a high standard of safety. The optional SIDEGUARD head airbags set a new standard in this vehicle class: safety Systems of this nature were until now only available in larger cars.
SIDEGUARD provides additional protection for the head and neck areas of outer passengers. The airbag covers the side windows and A and B-pillars almost completely, its chambers remaining inflated for five seconds after triggering. In this way the head airbag also provides vital protection in an ensuing rollover or subsequent collision.
The active safety of the A2 also Sets new Standards. Audi's highly sophisticated Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is part of the UK standard specification, helping the driver to master critical handling situations by applying the brakes at individual wheels to maintain control.
Equipment: both practical and luxurious
The A2 may be Inches shorter than any other Audi, but it is still every Inch an Audi, and its generous standard equipment list reflects this. In common with other Audi models two specification levels are offered - Standard and Special Equipment. Standard versions feature the following factory-fitted equipment:
- 5.5J x 15 lightweight forged aluminium alloy wheels with 175/60 R 1 5V tyres
- Adjustable steering column (height/depth)
- Anti-theft device with interior ultrasonic protection
- Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) traction control
- Audi Space Frame (ASF) aluminium bodyshell
- 'Cirrus' cloth upholstery
- Colour keyed door mirrors and handles
- Colour keyed front and rear bumpers
- Chorus RDS radio/cassette
- Driver and front passenger airbag
- Dust and pollen filter
- Electronic Differential Lock (EDL) - traction control
- Electric front and rear windows Electrically operated door mirrors
- Electronic ABS (Anti-lock Braking System)
- Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
- Electronic Stability Programme (ESP)
- Front and rear head restraints
- Front safety belt pretensioners
- Front side airbags
- Heat insulating tinted glas
- Height adjustable front seats
- Individual folding and removable rear seats (x2)
- ISOFIX child seat preparation
- Outside temperature gauge
- Power steering
- Reading lights
- Remote control central locking (radio wave)
- Rev Counter
- Roof mounted aerial Side Impact protection
- Three way catalytic converter (x2) (oxidisation catalyst an diesel)
- Transponder immobiliser
Special Equipment versions add:
- 6J x 16 'six spoke' alloy wheels wich 185/50 R16V tyres
- Additional can holders
- Door sill trim strips
- Electronic climate control
- Front fog lights
- Front and rear tailored carpet mats
- Illuminated vanity mirrors
- Leather rimmed airbag steering wheel
- Leather gear knob and gaiter
- Luggage compartment cover
- Removable luggage compartment floor
Versatility is one of the A2's strengths, even where equipment is concerned. Many high¬quality optional items are available and can be combined in a virtually unlimited variety of ways.
One optional equipment feature that is unmatched in this category is the unique Audi A2 Open Sky System. This novel sliding glass roof has a muck larger opening than a conventional sunroof – and that means more light and air for the car's occupants.
The Open Sky System's divided glass panel can be opened in two ways. If the rear end of the front panel is raised, a small amount of fresh air enters the car without causing any unpleasant draughts, even at high Speeds. If the panels are opened fully, a far larger aperture is created which gives a genuine open-air feel.
The ingenious Multibox storage System has also been specially developed for the Audi A2. As well as a recessed 12-Volt power Bocket in the load area, the system also features a removable Space Floor Box, which locates in the rear passenger footwell, and a centre console storage compartment with integral cup holder.
The Space Floor Box is a means of using the rear footwell space for additional storage. The box is inserted until flush with the remainder of the floor and can be slid under the front seat. lt has a litt-up flap and provides ample space for toys, drinks or a handbag. One of its Most practical secrets is that it can easily be removed from the car and used as a picnic box or an outdoor seat.
The centre console storage compartment extends back towards the rear seat area and is secured by a holder between the rear seat mounting and the centre console. In two sections and opening from the top, it is ideal for carrying small items such as tissues or sweets in the car.
Storage pouches are also available as an optional extra for the front seat backs, and are a convenient way of keeping various items safely stowed and easily to hand inside the car. Coat hangers can also be attached to the front Beats, so that a jacket or similar garment can be carried without creasing it or occupying valuable space.
In the boot a safety retaining system consisting of a riet, retaining Straps and an anti-slip floor covering with foil mat ensures that all kinds of loads can be secured and transported without risk. Another optional extra is a load-area cover, which protects personal effects from prying eyes.
Other equally functional items of equipment for the Audi A2 include the Navigation System Plus, which has a monitor that can be used for TV viewing when the car is stationary. Or one of the various high-quality audio Systems, which haue an excellent standard of reproduction, particularly when combined with the BOSE Sound system.
A telematics system is also due to join the options list in the future. Its combined traffic - information and emergency call function is particularly valuable if the car is also equipped with a navigation system: areas of traffic congestion can be identified and avoided, thus minimising one of the most serious causes of stress in modern traffic.
For added luxury, the Audi A2 owner can choose leather upholstery and trim in Grey and Pearl nappa, together with one of the leather steering wheels that are also available as optional extras.
The leather Option can also be combined with Sports front seats, which provide outstanding lateral Support. For the youngest A2 passengers, Audi has a range of child seats suitable for various age groups which are reliably secured in the rear compartment by the standard ISOFIX mountings.
Aluminium trim elements inside the A2 can be Chosen for a particularly individual effect. Decorative trim an the grab handles, the inside of the doors, the gear lever gaiter and the glove box add an effective touch of contrast to the otherwise restrained, clear outlines in the driver's area.
Audi A2 1.4 TDi Sport
If you need the versatility of a five-door supermini, but don't want to sacrifice style and comfort in the name of practicality, Audi might have just the thing: the new A2 TDI Sport. At �15,125 - a premium of �1,000 over the base model - the newcomer sits at the top of the range, and joins a Sport-badged petrol version in bringing some youthful appeal to the A2 line-up.
By Euan Sey
If you need the versatility of a five-door supermini, but don't want to sacrifice style and comfort in the name of practicality, Audi might have just the thing: the new A2 TDI Sport. At £ 15,125 - a premium of £ 1,000 over the base model - the newcomer sits at the top of the range, and joins a Sport-badged petrol version in bringing some youthful appeal to the A2 line-up. Stiffened, lowered suspension combines with the car's striking 17-inch alloys to give a much squatter, mean-er appearance. Inside, there's a leather steering wheel, body-hugging sports seats with electric lumbar support and a leather gearknob and gaiter. This not only lifts the whole look, but it gives the car's controls a high-quality feel you won't find in any other supermini. Throw in a standard-fit trip computer, and that £ 1,000 premium looks very reasonable indeed. The car's ride feels slightly firmer, and the wide, low-profile tyres generate a little more road noise than those fitted to other A2s. But the extra grip and stability make up for the loss of refinement, giving the baby keener turn-in characteristics and bags of mid-bend poise. Factor in the 1.4-litre three-cylinder engine's effervescent power delivery, and the A2 Sport has personality by the bucketload. However, £15,125 is still a lot to ask for a supermini - even one that looks this good and returns 66mpg. Add the climate control, glass roof and Alcantara trim fitted to our car, and that figure rises to £17,315. Food for thought.
In the city, one car is streets ahead in the style race. Sales have been slow, but Audi's high-fashion A2 has long been the obvious choice for downsizing executives.
By Chris Thorp
In the city, one car is streets ahead in the style race. Sales have been slow, but Audi's high-fashion A2 has long been the obvious choice for downsizing executives. And when you couple the model's chic silhouette with its frugal three-cylinder diesel engine, you've got a truly capable town tool. Until now, though, the A2 has lacked the pace to match its flashy looks. But that's set to change as Audi has increased the 1.4-litre TDI's power to 89bhp, giving its baby more sprightly performance. Has the A2 finally got the pull to attract more buyers? We hit the streets in this early right-hand-drive machine to find out. The funky Audi has used this powerplant since 2000, but engineers have squeezed an extra 15bhp out of it to create a more powerful model to join the current 74bhp version. As with the 1.9-litre TDI used by other VW Group vehicles, the 1.4 TDI isn't the freshest oil-burner around, but it still has an impressive CV. Despite the extra power, fuel economy is up 1.5mpg to 65.7mpg, giving a theoretical range of more than 600 miles on one tank, although on our varied route we couldn't better 51mpg. So is the added poke evident on the road? Once you've learned to exploit the narrow powerband, progress is swift, with 0-60mph in 10.9 seconds - 1.4 seconds up on the 74bhp A2. Top speed is 117mph. It's no performance car, but drivers stepping from a 130bhp A6 TDI would notice little difference in pace. The only weak point is refinement. Fire it up and the Audi emits an all-too-familiar diesel clatter which is always audible under acceleration. Our Sport model also came with firmer suspension and 17-inch alloys, meaning a hard ride to go with the intrusive engine noise. However, most buyers will find the chic looks, Euro IV-compliant emissions and great economy compensation enough, even given the A2's £16,160 price tag.
Quelle: auto express, GB