ST. TROPEZ, France - Profit is not the only motive behind the launch of the A2, Audi's first venture into the small-car market. Audi also wants to demonstrate that it is a leader in aluminum technology.
To produce the A2's aluminum body and frame costs about twice as much as using traditional steel. But including the doors and tailgate, the A2 weighs just 895kg - 40 percent lighter than a steel car of the equivalent size.
That means the A2 offers good performance and fuel economy. Indeed, when the A2 gains the 1.2-liter turbodiesel engine from the VW Lupo TDI 3L in the autumn, it will be able to travel 100km on just three liters of fuel.
The A2 joins the upper-luxury A8 in Audi's aluminum lineup. However, the A8 only uses aluminum for its body.
Audi's marketing experts believe the A2 will challenge the shorter, wider Mercedes-Benz A-class. They also say the Renault Scenic and even the Toyota Yaris Verso could be regarded as competitors.
But the A2 does not provide the flexible accommodation of any of those vehicles. It is designed as a four-seater, with heavily sculpted rear seats and just two seat belts at the back. A three-seat rear bench is only available as an option.
For the A2, Audi is targeting consumers below age 45 with an interest in innovation and high-tech products.
But buyers who enjoy tinkering with a car's engine should beware - the A2's hood is sealed. Fluid checks can be made via a flap on the car's radiator grille. But Audi says the entire hood should only be removed by technicians for servicing.