#ThrowbackThursday: Audi Avantissimo Concept

words: Bill, photos: Audi AG

Back in 2001 at the International Automobile Exhibit in Frankfurt (IAA), Audi presented the Avantissimo concept study. If you haven’t heard about the Avantissimo concept before, you’re forgiven. You see, the date that it was revealed on was September 11, 2001…

Our own quattro Magazine editor-in-chief, George Achorn, was there though he was covering it for his former website, fortitude.com. Nobody was paying any attention to the show as the horrific events of that day unfolded on TVs everywhere. I haven’t heard of it before until I stumbled across it on Audi’s media site. Now, with the arrival of the RS 6 Avant to the States getting closer, let’s reflect back on the Avantissimo.

Audi had a history of high-performance wagons such as the RS2 and had a vision for another one for the luxury car class. This concept was powered by a 4.2L bi-turbo V8 which boasted 430hp/443ft-lb of torque and took this Avant deep into supercar territory. Obviously it was equipped with the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system with air springs at all four corners.

A lightweight aluminum body, a development of the Audi Space Frame (ASF), combined with the drivetrain and the high tech aluminum suspension components, made handling precise and the ride outstanding. ASF meant an optimum power-to-weight ration and therefore brutal acceleration…though that is what I imagine since there are no published 0-60/quarter-mile figures that I could find.

In addition to the power, the Avantissimo was also a technological wonder. It was model that introduced the Audi Multi Media Interface better known as MMI. It also had a TV with DVD player and a built-in phone. Large sections of the roof were covered in glass panels that contained photo-voltaic elements which supplied sufficient solar power to operate the ventilation blowers during hot weather. The Avantissimo was also equipped with a keyless entry system powered by a chip in the car key. That may not be a big deal today but what the vehicle also had was a fingerprint scanner for an even more effective driver identification. Once the car identified the driver, the seat position, HVAC setting, and MMI previously chosen by that driver was automatically selected. High-tech for the early ’00s.

So back in 2001, we saw the future of Audi in the Avantissimo. The more things change, the more they stay the same…oh to be back in the days of innocence.