Our weekly series about some of the most important Audi concepts takes us back to the year 1991 at the Tokyo Motor Show where this supercar wowed the crowds. The low-slung machine seen here is widely regarded as a precursor of the R8 we all know and appreciate. Ingolstadt’s mid-engined answer to the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini took the shape of a rather stunning showcar with a curvaceous body that has aged exceptionally well. Today, we’re talking about the Audi Avus Quattro concept.
It got its name after a race track in Germany and was a taste of things to come regarding Audi’s W12 engine that debuted in the A8 towards the end of the 1990s. The relation with the company’s flagship sedan is deeper than that as the car’s all-aluminum body was a precursor of the Audi Space Frame introduced with the original A8 in 1994.
Why Do We Like The Audi Avus Quattro concept?
Speaking of the body, the panels were hand-beaten and there was not a drop of paint on them. The decision to leave the concept car unpainted was taken to create a connection with the 1930s Auto Union race cars while also keeping weight in check. The Audi Avus Quattro concept weighed merely 2,755 pounds (1,250 kilograms), thus making it more than 882 lbs (400 kg) lighter than today’s R8 V10.
See the previous episodes from our weekly series of concepts from yesteryear:
Is That All?
When the concept car made its debut in Japan, Audi was still working on the W12 and could not finish it in time. Rather than bringing the Avus Quattro with an empty engine bay, they made a dummy 6.0-liter W12 from a combination of wood and plastic. The twelve-cylinder engine (theoretically) produced a little over 500 horsepower, helping the sleek supercar reach 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.0 seconds en route to 210 mph (334 km/h). Well, at least on paper…
Of course. From its scissor doors and gated six-speed manual gearbox to the futuristic shape and mirror-like finish, the Audi Avus Quattro is hands down one of the most spectacular concepts to carry the Four Rings. Just look at the placement of the side mirrors at the top of the A-pillars, while the 20-inch wheels and tires make up for half of the vehicle’s height.
The R8’s granddaddy was a technological tour de force, featuring rear-wheel steering, three lockable differentials, and a roof-mounted NACA duct. It took the Volkswagen Group six more years to show a concept car with a working W12 as 1997 saw the unveiling of the all-wheel-drive VW W12 Syncro with a 5.6-liter W12, followed a year later by the rear-wheel-drive W12 Roadster and in 2001 by a more powerful W12 Nardo.
Why Wasn’t The Audi Avus Quattro Concept Built?
Because that wasn’t the plan. Audi never intended for the Avus to hit the assembly line, and some say the company refused offers as high as $12 million from roughly a dozen of deep-pocketed people eager to get behind the wheel of the W12 supercar.