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The Audi A2 Is the Weird Audi You Probably Don't Know About

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author photo by Doug DeMuro March 2017

It's time for us to talk about one of my all-time favorite Audi models: the A2. It was available from 2000 to 2005, it was never sold in the United States, it isn't very sought-after, it's not a performance car ... and I absolutely love it. I think it's gorgeous. Just look at it.

I'll start with a little A2 history. The A2 was a direct answer to the Mercedes-Benz A- and B-Class models, which originally went on sale in Europe several years earlier. An attempt for Mercedes to branch out into younger markets with higher sales volumes, the A- and B-Class were a smash hit in Europe -- and they're still around today. Mercedes even sells an electric version of the B-Class here in the United States.

So Audi wanted in on this lucrative market, and the result was the A2, a compact car that was also a family-oriented people mover -- a segment dubbed "MPV" in Europe. It was just 150.6 inches long (a 2017 MINI Cooper is 152 inches), and its powertrains weren't especially interesting: The most powerful A2 had 109 horsepower and did zero to 60 in 9.8 seconds. The least powerful version had a 60-hp 3-cylinder and required nearly 15 seconds to hit 60 mph. No A2 could reach 130 miles per hour.

So you'd think that I, as a human car enthusiast, would probably hate the A2, or at least forget about it, since it wasn't especially exciting. But there's one thing I absolutely love about Audi's little A2 -- and that's the design.

Seriously, just look at this thing. I can't help but think it still looks modern today -- in contrast with virtually every other car from the early 2000s. It looks truly modern, with an avant-garde shape that almost seems like it belongs in an art museum rather than at an Audi dealership. I mean it when I say that I think the A2 is probably the most attractive boring car ever made.

Unfortunately, the public didn't agree. The non-traditional look was blamed for relatively poor sales, and the A2 died after the 2005 model year. When Audi finally resurrected the ultra-tiny compact car a few years later, they chose the "A1" model name -- and a more traditional hatchback look. But every time I stumble across an A2 in Europe, I can't help but stare briefly, transfixed by the gorgeous small car available in foreign markets while Americans were just getting over the Geo Metro.

 Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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The Audi A2 Is the Weird Audi You Probably Don't Know About - Autotrader