Having bought a Suzuki Ignis sport for the purpose of serving as a practical little daily, I’d gone and turned it into a stripped out, two seat track day car (as you do). That’s all well and good for my solo commute to work but along with a girlfriend, I’d gained a two year old little boy and a dog. This left me with a bit of a problem, I have one parking space at my flat with two cars already in the fleet and my finances don’t really stretch to owning a third vehicle. The problem of parking could be overcome by kindly asking my parents if I could store one at theirs, as they have a big enough driveway but that still left me with the issue of cost. I needed something cheap to buy, cheap to run, practical for family use and because I like to make things difficult for myself, it needed to be a bit different, a bit quirky. A nearly impossible set of parameters made harder by the fact the “cheap to buy” bit meant around the £1000 mark.
My thoughts initially turned to a Honda Jazz, while not different, it’s always been my go to recommendation for people after a cheap little run about. Other people must have the same thoughts though as decent examples were proving thin on the ground. Being a bit of a Honda fanboy the Honda FRV and HRV were also on the list but again slightly more than I wanted to pay.
My attention then turned to the Audi A2. Decent examples were going for just over a grand, £30 a year road tax and about 50mpg for the diesel, a hatchback with flat folding seats and different in the fact it’s constructed out of aluminium. That’s all the boxes ticked then. After saving a search alert on eBay (highly recommended) a blue 2002 car came up on a private sale about half an hour away from my house, so I rang up and arranged a viewing for the next day. It looked to be an honest little car with plenty of service history and paperwork. It drove like any other VW product of the era, dull as dishwater but driving dynamics weren’t really a priority. I struck a deal at £1150 and made my way home with it the same day.
My initial thoughts on the car were very positive, despite the fact it was a total sales flop for Audi when it was new. It was designed to go head to head with the Mercedes A-Class but cost substantially more. Audi weren’t prepared to sacrifice quality just because it’s a smaller car and the pioneering use of aluminium construction, a first in this segment, drove the price up again. Looking back it’s easy to see why the car was ahead of its time, a small car fitted with a 3 cylinder turbo Diesel engine, a lightweight aluminium body and a low drag coefficient design.
So far during ownership I’ve enjoyed the fact the fuel gauge doesn’t really move, I’ve never been caught out for luggage space and reliability has been spot on. On the other hand there is a fair amount of things I don’t like about the car, and it’s all about the driving experience. There’s no cruise control on this model, which even my 1993 Jaguar XJ has, for the price you’d have paid when the A2 was new, I’d have expected it to be standard fit. The pedal is like an on/off switch but most VW products I’ve driven are like that. The steering and gearbox are numb and feel very rubbery but again that seems to be what the modern consumer prefers and I’m the dinosaur for wanting a more mechanical interaction. But here’s my main gripe, the wheels, tyres and suspension.
While on my hunt for an A2 I was after the best car for the money, colour and spec didn’t really matter to me and it just so happens that my car is the “sport” specification. This means 17 inch wheels, low profile tyres and lowered suspension. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I think it looks great, however, after living with it for a few months my belief is that they have no place on a family car. The suspension is brittle and crashy at low speed, yet somehow manages to be rolly polly round faster corners, not quite sure how they’ve managed that and whoever thought 215/45/17 tyres would be a good idea needs the sack. I’d stick my neck out and say my Suzuki Ignis sport track car with 30mm lowered suspension and Toyo R888R semi slick tyres rides better than the A2. I’ve had two flat tyres in my short ownership and it’s growing tiresome. The car has been given a once over by my trusted mechanic and he confirmed there’s no obvious faults though which is at least one positive. I have thought about selling it but there really isn’t anything else out there that ticks all the boxes required, so it’s going to remain in the fleet for the foreseeable future. In the meantime if anyone has some A2 3L wheels they would like to swap, hit me up!
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