Audi has made no secret that it plans an aggressive strategy for growth of its e-tron electric car range. The brand even aimed to emphasize that fact with a massive display of tech in San Francisco at a recent launch event for its first e-tron crossover model and dubbed that gathering The Charge. While there, they may even have revealed another upcoming model that we don’t think we’ve seen before.
The car in question was a design model on a table top display. Other models of the already seen AICON autonomous electric car and PB18 e-tron purist electric sportscar were also on that table, and of course the real concept cars for AICON and PB18 also sat nearby. This car though, it was different. It was smaller than the AICON, and more of a 5-door upright shape… and one that strongly harkened the brand’s former A2 offering.
The first-generation Audi A2 may have been a bit ahead of its time. Like today’s TT model, that first A2 made use of Audi’s own aluminum space frame design, though utilized other components from a corresponding transverse architecture built as steel cars for brands such as Volkswagen. Whereas the current TT is aluminum and shares componentry with other MQB-based cars in the Volkswagen Group, that first A2 utilized components from the group’s loosely named A00 set, most closely akin to the Volkswagen Lupo… and specifically more lightweight and expensive components from the super efficient Lupo 3L and GTI models. Within the Volkswagen Group, the platform was also known as A04 or PQ24, while the A2 itself was known internally at Audi as Typ 8Z.
The first A2 quickly earned a cult following, one of the more aggressive designs to come from an era that also saw model offerings such as the first-generation TT, the B6 A4 and C5 A6. Back then, it only came with petrol or TDI engines, and was one of the first Audi models to feature FSI in 1.4-liter FSI guise.
Though its fan-base was loyal, the A2 never sold enough to be a considered a runaway commercial success, and so it was canceled at the end of a model run that lasted from 1999 to 2005.
By 2011, Audi was again reconsidering the A2 entry in its ever-expanding range and the car was shown again in concept form at that year’s Frankfurt IAA motor show. This time, the structure was made from both aluminum and carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). This time around, the A2 had gone electric, and the concept featured a single speed electric drive with 31 kWh battery and 270 Nm of torque. It was said to have a range of 124 miles, and though Ingolstadt seriously considered production, the car never made it fully to fruition.
Fast forward to 2018 and the A2 may make a lot more sense. A small and efficient car could very readily fit into an initial range of e-tron models. While it may make more sense for the European market given Europe’s appreciation for small cars, the lighter weight and smaller size make for a serious city car that could also have market potential for the USA.
Before we get too far down the road of suggesting an Audi A2 return, we don’t yet know the story of this model. It could just be exactly that, a styling model that will go no further. Even still, we can’t help but appreciate this little car’s adoption of modern Audi design cues and paired with an obviously A2-inspired shape.
Read more about the Audi e-tron event where we encountered this car via the links below. First and foremost, you’ll find all photos in our story about the Audi TechPark in San Francisco. Next, you can see more about the e-tron crossover reveal in our full gallery and report on The Charge event.