Among the many noteworthy features of the Avantissimo is its clearly defined sporting character. This is more than might be attributed only to its body styling – it goes deeper and includes a power train with many equally remarkable features.
Under the hood is a 4.2-litre ‘biturbo’ V8 engine a concept that has demonstrated its potential with much success in motor racing – witness the Audi R8, winner of the Le Mans 24-hour race. The use of two smaller turbochargers rather than a single large one, together with the eight-cylinder engine’s generous swept volume, make this a highly appropriate engine for a car such as this, and one that has few rivals.
The V8 ‘biturbo’ develops more than 430 brake horsepower, and with its maximum torque of 600 newton-metres exhibits all the potential of a supersport model. Such peak performance puts it right at the top of the luxury car class.
These figures are impressive enough in themselves, but the truly unique character of this engine only comes to light when the driver discovers its amazing willingness to soar up to high speeds freely and yet to deliver a supreme flow of power even at the lower end of the rev band.
In every situation, the V8 ‘biturbo’ responds willingly to the driver’s commands. If the car is driven in a calm, relaxed manner it exhibits perfect restraint and magnificent refinement. When the demand for ultimate power is transmitted to it, however, it reveals all the agility of a racing engine and its sound changes subtly as a hint that slumbering reserves have been awakened to life.
This power is transmitted smoothly and in a controlled manner to the road by a new six-speed automatic transmission. The driver can use shift paddles at the steering wheel if desired, for manual selection of the various speed ranges. This transmission has a broad spread of ratios, so that engine speeds are satisfactorily low even when driving fast – a decisive factor in ensuring low, pleasant noise levels and keeping fuel consumption to a minimum.
For an Audi with this distinguished character, the choice of driveline was an obvious one: quattro permanent all-wheel drive. It matches the engine’s dynamic character in all driving conditions and has the decisive advantage that each wheel only has to transmit half as much tractive force as on a car with only one driven axle. This in turn provides even more ample reserves of grip to withstand high lateral acceleration forces. A high standard of active safety is yet another advantage of quattro all-wheel drive, to which the latest version of the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with hydraulic ‘Brake Assistant’ makes a further useful contribution.