|September 12, 2001
Audi Avantissimo - a New Form of Dynamism and Luxury
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, and at the same time a means of demonstrating the many innovative technologies that Audi's engineers have developed for future automobile generations.
Beautiful estate cars are called `Avant': this well-known slogan symbolises the estate car that, in the past ten years, has shown how to rise above the demands of pure practicability and offer more. `Avant' has become a synonym for progressive design, sporting character and advanced styling in this motoring category.
This in turn has led to a fundamental change in the way that such models are viewed by the market, a process that Audi began and which it has shaped ever since the outset. A glance at our roads, with so many Avants to be seen in the B and C model segments - to say nothing of their many imitators - is convincing proof of the way that a sound idea has established itself successfully.
All of this makes the new concept study much more than a mere formal experiment. It is a step forward into the D segment of the market, the `upper house' of automobile design, and a logical culmination of the Avant concept. Its luxury and interior space, its forward-looking design and its concentrated high-tech specification represent a unique combination, particularly when allied to dynamic performance that itself sets a new standard even in the luxury class.
The Avantissimo is a design study with which Audi has re-interpreted the potential inherent in the Avant concept in a form suitable for the luxury car category. It is a supreme display of top performance, a new formal idiom and the technologies of tomorrow - a decisive step forward into Audi's future.
The power train
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.