At the 2001 International Automobile Exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany (the ‘IAA’), Audi is exhibiting the Avantissimo concept study. This is a vision from the company that makes the cars bearing the four-ring badge – a high-performance Avant for the luxury car class.
Avantissimo: the name itself expresses the superlative element in this design study, which is a clear display of dynamism and luxury in a unique form. It has been given to a design study which, like the Avant concept itself, opens up a new dimension. Avant is the name for beautiful estate cars that reach equally high standards of dynamism and high-tech engineering. For more than ten years now, Audi has pursued a new path with its Avant models – one that adds an emotive element to pure logic.
Dynamism is certainly not lacking in the power unit chosen for the Audi Avantissimo. The 4.2-litre V8 engine with ‘biturbo’ forced aspiration mobilises more than 316 kW (430 bhp) and endows the car with the performance of a supersport model. The engine’s monumental peak torque is 600 newton-metres, a value that remains constant over a large portion of the rev band.
The Avantissimo’s driveline and suspension concepts match the available power and torque in every way, with dynamism once again the top priority. For an Audi of this calibre, the quattro permanent all-wheel drive principle was an obvious choice – a system that has long since proved its performance potential in legendary racing and rally cars with power outputs of up to a thousand horsepower. With quattro, the V8 biturbo engine’s power is transformed reliably into traction and road grip whatever the driving conditions may be.
Precision handling and outstanding agility are the contribution made by the high-tech aluminium suspension components. Once again Audi’s development engineers have displayed their capabilities in the dynamic road behaviour area as they did only recently with the Audi A4’s much-praised chassis and suspension. The Avantissimo’s weight-saving suspension, with air springs at all four wheels, is also the secret of the car’s outstanding ride quality.
A lightweight aluminium body, based on a systematic development of the Audi Space Frame (ASF), makes a further contribution to the Avantissimo’s exceptional dynamics. As a pioneer of aluminium passenger-car construction, Audi has now succeeded in optimising the combination of low weight and maximum torsional rigidity even further. This benefits the car in two ways: ASF means an optimum power-to-weight ratio and therefore brilliant acceleration. The rigidity of the chassis, in turn, means precise suspension response and consistently good road behaviour.
Into its Avantissimo design study Audi’s development team has systematically incorporated many other innovative technologies that will appear on future model generations. A central feature is a new ergonomic control concept that reduces the driver’s workload and enables him or her to concentrate on the pure pleasure of driving this car.
The best example of this is the Multi Media Interface (MMI), a special combination of clear operating logic and the maximum choice of functions. It puts all the car’s information and communication systems at the driver’s disposal, from the audio system to the Internet link, by means of a unit that can be understood instinctively and is exceptionally easy to use. ”Less is more” was the guiding principle here, and applies equally to the control elements, that have been reduced in number to a minimum, and to the Avantissimo’s clearly structured, neatly arranged driver’s area.
The Avantissimo, 5.06 metres long overall and 1.91 metres wide, clearly ‘borrows from the future’ in its body styling. Its lines are a totally new interpretation of the classic Audi Avant concept.
The main body proportions combine a clear sporting element with a sense of architectural precision. Tension in the panel surfaces and sharply defined contours make this design study look as if it has been sculpted from the solid: a monolithic visual approach that has not been attempted before, particularly on a luxury car. It is a calm, serene answer to many a design that appears spectacular at first glance but tires the onlooker after only a short time.
The Avantissimo is Audi’s way of systematically interpreting the scope offered by the Avant concept in the luxury car category. It is a supremely confident demonstration of the new forms and technologies that tomorrow’s cars will have, and a decisive step forward into Audi’s future.