Audi Avantissimo Concept Is The A8 Avant That Didn’t Happen

This week’s Audi concept from yesteryear takes us back to the 2001 Frankfurt Motor Show where the Avantissimo wowed wagon fans from all over the world. At an imposing 5.06 meters (199.2 inches) long and 1.91 meters (75.2 inches) wide, the concept was bigger than today’s A6 Avant. In other words, this was Audi’s idea of a flagship wagon, with the showcar exploring the idea of the ultimate Avant.

Why do we like the Avantissimo?

The idea of a large and luxurious wagon as an alternative to the Q7 sounds great to us, even though the latest customer trends would beg to differ. The Avantissimo was interesting for a couple of other reasons, namely its design and technology. Not only did it preview the styling language adopted by the second-generation A8 (D3) a year later, but it was the first Audi to feature the MMI infotainment system.

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Is that all?

The Avantissimo was a technological tour de force, featuring everything from the proprietary Audi Space Frame (ASF) bringing an aluminum body to an air suspension for a silky smooth ride. It also had giant run-flat tires wrapping those shiny “Pax” wheels featuring a polished surface. Bi-xenon headlights were a huge deal back then, while the glazed roof panels look spectacular to this day.

Anything else?

At the heart of the Audi Avantissimo was a twin-turbo 4.2-liter V8 engine with more than 430 horsepower (316 kilowatts) and 600 Newton-meters (443 pound-feet) of torque – healthy numbers for 2001. The implementation of Quattro was “an obvious choice” per the press release from nearly two decades ago, with power channeled to both axles through a then-new six-speed automatic transmission.

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Why wasn’t the Avantissimo built?

As with most concepts, the Avantissimo was developed mainly to showcase new tech that was later on implemented in Audi production cars in the 2000s. A concept serving this purpose in 2020 would probably take the shape of an SUV, but some twenty years ago, wagons were a hot commodity. We’re happy the A4 and A6 Avants are still around, together with their rugged Allroad siblings. As for an A8 Avant, don’t count on it happening.

Adrian Padeanu

Long-time fan of the fabled Four Rings.