Practical experience Audi A2: still ahead of its time?

Everything makes a very serious impression. Dead serious.’

Holiday trailer Audi A2

The oldest Audi A2s are now 23 years old and a lot has been written about the car in that time. It is said to be far ahead of its time, while others mainly see it as a dream car for hippies and cross-thinkers. Granted, you have to like the looks, but nothing about the Audi A2 came about by accident. Was this compact Audi really far ahead of its time or does its special concept mainly cause annoyance in practice? Reviews from owners, old and new, provide insight.

The specialness of an Audi A2 went further than the controversial design. The car is made almost entirely of aluminum, based on the Audi Space Frame. As a result, the A2 1.4 weighed only 985 kilograms. The special 1.2 TDI (3L) was made even lighter, making it only 15 kilograms heavier than a Fiat Panda from those years. The special construction did not help Audi, because the manufacturer reportedly paid around 7,500 euros for each A2 produced.

Audi A2 has MPV features

Now that we’re talking about the Panda: the Audi A2 is considerably larger. In fact, it is an MPV in the B-segment, below the Audi A3, but in terms of interior space there is little difference between the two Audis. “The space inside is okay, fine in the front with enough width between the seats. It goes in the back. I am 1.90 meters and sit well, but that has consequences for the space in the back. With a little arranging it will work,” says the owner of an A2 1.4 Pro Line. “With its four seats and an acceptable trunk, four adults can comfortably spend a day out. For weekend or week trips, I would prefer not to have more than two people in the car,” adds a 1.2 TDI driver.

Well, this light little one is quite grown up. Is there also a downside? “Once you get in, you immediately notice that there are very adult seats in the A2. Everything actually makes a very serious impression. Dead serious. That could have been a little less boring. In addition, it is also gray,” reports the driver of a 1.4 from 2000, the first year of construction. “The plastics are hard. That was still possible in 2000, but no longer in this price range. On the other hand, the entire interior is very sturdy and neatly put together. Ergonomically it is also great,” he continues his argument.

“Wonderfully spacious car, even with my height (1.93 meters) there are still teeth left on the seat and multiple seating positions are possible,” writes a 1.6 FSI driver. “Even with three adults, the A2 can be used on holiday with skis in the car. With the rear seats removed you have a lot of space.” Because indeed, the two rear seats of the Audi A2 are removable. And for those who have already read between the lines: this Audi is a pure four-seater; you look in vain for a middle seat in the back.

Driving the A2

How does such an aluminum box drive? “The Audi A2 has quite stiff suspension and you will notice this when hitting bumps and potholes in the road. The car drives fine on the highway. It is a bit sensitive to wind due to its light weight, but this is not a nuisance,” says the driver of an A2 1.4 Exclusive from 2001.

Another 1.4 driver catches his A2 with sporting aspirations. “It looks like a go-kart. The steering is very light and super direct, the chassis is also tightly and firmly adjusted. Thanks to the low weight and the wide tires, you can speed past everyone and everything on roundabouts. You can’t achieve understeer. I was not even able to get the ESP to intervene,” he writes enthusiastically. Yet there is also criticism. “Unfortunately, the steering provides little to no feedback, otherwise the A2 would have been a good match for a Mini Cooper.”

Not everyone is a fan of the sturdy chassis. The next rider had something done about it. “The suspension comfort is not fantastic, but inquiries showed that Koni FSD dampers should provide a solution. These were put on at 135,000 km and the difference is enormous: no more nausea on highway journeys, tighter cornering and more comfort.”

And how do you like the 1.4-liter? Several owners indicate that it is more than sufficient. “The Audi only has 75 hp, but its extremely low weight makes it more than capable of keeping up with normal traffic. The five-speed gearbox is a bit arrogant, because nowadays you really expect a six-speed gearbox. With 120 km/h on the clock, the car still makes more than 3,000 rpm.” However, several 1.4 drivers indicate that the clutch is insensitive and engages late. “Switching is smooth and sure, but the clutch is numb and takes some getting used to. The point of reference is vague. On the other hand, making a turn is not an option,” said one of these drivers. Who is curious about the fuel consumption of such an Audi A2 in practice? We previously examined this using the AutoWeek Consumption Monitor.

Audi A2: maintenance, problems and irritations

Judging the quality of a car based on wear parts may be dubious, but the next owner is in any case very enthusiastic about the life of the clutch of his 1.4 Exclusive from 2002. “First clutch set replaced at 432,745 km, so from the factory 0km!”

In addition to the 1.4, this driver also has an A2 1.6 FSI, which seemed significantly less durable. This car was due for a cylinder head overhaul after 262,500 kilometers. In addition, not only these, but also other owners reported noises from the front axle that indicate worn top bearings. The front wishbones, which are not made of aluminum on the 1.4s and 1.6s, also have a tendency to rust over time.

A 1.2 TDI driver who also covered a lot of kilometers writes: “At 285,000 kilometers, two rear shock absorbers, the front brake discs, stabilizer bar and coupling rods, the fuel filter and a fuel valve were replaced. Actually nothing that shouldn’t need to be replaced after almost 3 tons. The original parts have a great lifespan, but are sometimes difficult to find and expensive, but the 3L specialists often know all kinds of good solutions.”

The owner of a 2000 A2 drove the car for about 200,000 kilometers and encountered a litany of problems. The conclusion of all this? “Exchanged the car for a still fresh A2.” Apparently the blood runs where it can’t go. Although the Audi A2 is no longer ahead of the times, we are still a long way from getting rid of this compact Audi.

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