Thursday, July 7, 2011

1/30 Kinsmart Audi A2

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Audi's recent popularity with Car and Driver editors is apparent and easily documented: The TT and the two top versions of the A6 made it onto this year's 10Best list, and in the May issue, the Audi A6 2.7T Quattro beat all comers in our comparison test of $40,000 sports sedans.

Now, back home in Germany, Audi is concentrating on a model that will never make our 10Best list because it will likely never be sold in the U.S. Its new A2 is neither sporty nor stylish. It does not have the unmatched interior ambiance of Audi's other models. It is small -- 150.6 inches long -- and light, at about 2000 pounds.

This is Audi's economy model, giving 50 miles per gallon with its regular 74-hp, 1.4-liter 16-valve four-cylinder gasoline engine, 67 mpg with a three-cylinder turbo-diesel of similar displacement and power, and 80 mpg in an upcoming special version with a 1.2-liter diesel. That 80 mpg is the three-liters-per-100-kilometers consumption target the German manufacturers set for themselves to demonstrate they are serious about the environment.

The Audi A2 may be economical to operate, but it will not be particularly cheap to buy. The price in Europe is equivalent to that of a well-outfitted Volkswagen Golf. That is not surprising when you see how it is made, because this is the first modern volume-production car to have a body and space-frame chassis in aluminum. This technology, pioneered by Audi for its flagship A8 sedan and since adopted by BMW for the Z8 sports car, has progressed to the point where it can be used to make 60,000 A2s a year.

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