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. The idea
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.
Únder 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. (posted on conceptcarz.com)
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. Chassis and suspension
As a means of handling such abundant power efficiently, the Avantissimo has been given aluminium suspension elements and the most carefully planned suspension geometry. At the front, a four-link layout ensures maximum steering precision and combines good lateral location with excellent ride quality. At the rear, this mighty version of the Avant has trapezoidal-link suspension with separate springs and shock absorbers, a design principle that has already demonstrated its potential in the latest Audi A4 models, which have been highly praised for their agility.
The concept car?s air suspension, however, breaks new ground. Continuously controlled damping enables a perfect balance to be maintained between ride comfort and dynamic handling. Ride height control is incorporated in order to keep the centre of gravity low but also ensure that full ground clearance is available despite load changes.
The ?MMI module? provides a choice of three suspension settings: Automatic, Sport and Comfort. If Automatic is selected, the electronics not only vary the firmness of the spring and shock absorber settings according to the car?s road speed, but also alter the ground clearance. In other words, as road speed goes up, the centre of gravity is lowered, so that both body control and aerodynamics are optimised.
If the manual suspension control setting is chosen, electronically defined safety thresholds, as on the Audi allroad quattro, prevent the car from being driven at too high a speed with inappropriate suspension settings in use.
The ?Pax? wheels fitted to the Avantissimo are an entirely new feature, not so much because of their giant 255 x 740 x 560 format (with 245 x 560 wheel rims) and their almost entirely smooth-surfaced design, but rather because of a feature concealed from the onlooker: a special anchoring principle means that there is no risk of the tyre coming away from the wheel rim.
This not only helps to keep the car directionally stable if a tyre should go flat: the Pax design principle also maintains mobility if this happens during a lengthy journey. It allows the car to be driven for a maximum of 200 kilometres at speeds up to 80 km/h in such an emergency. For additional safety, the tyres have built-in air pressure monitoring so that the driver is fully informed about their condition.
When the car has reached its destination, the electro-hydraulic parking brake is applied simply by pressing a button, and released again when the car is next driven away. The body
One thing is obvious at a glance: the Avantissimo is something of a revolution in the large luxury car category, an area to which it clearly belongs by virtue of its overall length of 5.06 metres and width of 1.91 metres. These dimensions, however, are accompanied by a decidedly sporting character and a totally new interpretation of classic Avant body styling.
Well-balanced proportions, the tension of the panel surfaces and the high waistline with a mild wedge outline are characteristic elements in what is none the less familiar as a typical Audi Avant styling approach. The wheels are a visually dominant feature that emphasise the dynamic aspect of this design concept.
At the front of the Avantissimo the typical Audi brand personality with double cooling air inlets and the four-ring emblem has been re-interpreted. Broad clear-glass headlights, with the optical elements clearly visible, frame the front end and emphasise its low silhouette, which rises gently toward the rear. Another characteristic Audi front-end feature are the clear lines of demarcation between radiator grille and front side panels.
An entirely new development, as echoed in their design, the bi-xenon headlights behind their clear glass covers add special emphasis to the front end of this design study.
The actual light source in these headlights always remains vertical. The reflectors are raised to a 45-degree position when the lights are in use and thus deflect the vertical light beam on to the road. When the headlights are switched off, the reflectors return to a horizontal position and prevent light from emerging. The big air inlets beneath them seem to underline the presence of these advanced new headlight units most effectively.
The movable reflectors are in fact more than just a design detail: the concept car?s headlights are the first time that Audi?s new Advanced Lighting System has been seen. It alters the light beam pattern when the car is cornering to match the driver?s viewing angle.
The illuminated area is varied according to road speed and steering angle, and can even process information from the car?s navigation system. It knows when the car is approaching a bend in the road and is capable of altering the headlight reflector?s setting as the car reaches the point where the driver needs to ?see round the corner?.
At the rear, a further new interpretation of Avant styling principles can be seen. The concept car, with its overall height of 1.43 metres, makes a bold, powerful impression and, despite its undoubted size, still possesses admirable refinement and clarity thanks to the recessed area above the waistline.
The large-area, glazed tailgate can be opened continuously to an angle of 70 degrees by an electro-hydraulic mechanism operated from the car?s remote-control key. A drawer compartment provides additional storage space and can also be slid out electrically.
Large sections of the roof consist of sandwich glass with a continuous dimming effect ? an ingenious principle that gives the roof panel a sense of lightness that belies its size. There are additional photo-voltaic elements in the roof as well; they supply sufficient solar energy when the engine is stopped to operate the ventilation system?s blower and keep the interior of the car cool in hot weather.
The Avantissimo?s body is made of aluminium, using the Audi Space Frame (ASF) principle. This yields a structure of excellent rigidity but very low weight, and has already proved successful on current Audi A8 and A2 series-production models. This new design is a further development of the ASF principle and establishes a new benchmark in terms of weight-saving design quality. The interior
Pure luxury would be no exaggeration for this spacious interior, generously equipped and trimmed with the finest materials. The driver and three passengers, in their four wide individual seats, are surrounded by every conceivable luxury. The seats, incidentally, recall the classics of modern interior design: the seat backs are gently curving wooden shells in a colour that contrasts most effectively with the leather upholstery.
These seats combine perfect lateral support with the highest standard of journey comfort. They are adjustable electrically in various directions to suit the occupant?s preferences, and even the upper front seat belt anchorages are electrically adjustable.
Like the seats found in the first class section of a modern airliner, the rear seats can be moved to a specially relaxed position. The complete seat cushion can be slid forward by up to 110 millimetres, whereupon the seat back is inclined by a further 19 degrees compared with the normal upright position.
The armrests ? both on the centre console and on the doors ? can be varied in height as the seat occupant prefers.
Integral lumbar support and massage devices in the backs of all the seats keep the occupants? back muscles pleasantly relaxed during long journeys.
The very finest interior decor materials are used to create a luxurious setting ? deep-pile carpet, light-coloured, naturally tanned leather and, as a colour contrast, darker shades of wood. The colours are warm, in order to create a special atmosphere and a true feeling of total well-being.
This ambience, incidentally, extends beyond the passenger compartment into the load area. The Avantissimo, conceived as a large, long-distance touring vehicle, naturally provides ample space at the rear for luggage and leisure or hobby gear. It is no accident that the load-area decor with its leather-trimmed aluminium rails recalls the luxurious visual impression made by high-quality seagoing luggage, which was always noted for top-grade materials, perfect workmanship and ample load-carrying capacity.
For maximum convenience when loading, the Avantissimo has a slide-out load-area floor. This can be extended rearwards electrically by up to 460 millimetres. If the entire load area is needed, the rear seats fold forwards fully automatically, after which the load-area floor panel slides forward by up to 750 millimetres to extend the floor surface.
A particularly ingenious feature is that all these functions and also opening and closing the tailgate and the underfloor storage drawer can be performed most conveniently from the car?s remote control. Those who arrive at the car carrying various bulky or heavy items of luggage will appreciate this ability to open various doors and re-arrange the load area appropriately simply by pressing the remote control buttons.
The sheer width of the Avantissimo?s interior is emphasised by the generously glazed areas of the roof, which extend right back to the tailgate. The light which enters through these panels gives the interior of this concept car a very special quality: light has here been used intentionally as an active design element.
In bright sunlight, however, there is no risk of this feature outstaying its welcome: the glass dims continuously as the incident light intensity rises ? an innovation that adds a new dimension to the heat insulation concept. Each occupant of the car can dim the glass manually in his or her individual seating area.
This ?Varilite? technology is used on the Avantissimo not only for the glazed roof panels and the tailgate window, but also for the upper part of the windscreen, so that the driver too is protected against unnecessary glare from the sun. It achieves ideal results in all light conditions and is therefore a high-tech alternative to the conventional hinged sun vizor.
After dark, indirect lighting in the roof illuminates the interior of the Avantissimo uniformly and without glare.
From the low-mounted dash panel, gently curved horizontal lines extend back around the passenger area, communicating a perfect blend of spaciousness and protection from the outside world.
The generous use of high-quality ash has a function above and beyond its visual effect as wood trim. Larger areas act as backing panels for the principal displays and controls. These consist of a combination of circular dials and digital displays that supply the driver with all the required information.
To select a different gear manually in the automatic transmission, the driver can operate the two paddle controls behind the steering wheel. They move with the wheel, so that gear selection remains reliable when the car is not moving in a straight line. The electronic systems
The centre console makes a particularly tidy impression, far from the abundance of buttons and switches that used to be so popular. In its Avantissimo concept study, Audi is introducing its new MMI control concept for the first time. MMI stands for ?Multi Media Interface?, a complete redefinition of the link between the driver and the car?s information and communication electronics.
MMI is used to select and operate all the entertainment and information media, such as the radio with audio system, the TV with DVD player and also the car phone, the navigation system and the Internet access facility. All the main functions are directly accessible by pressing a button. Selection within each menu is by means of a large rotary switch and the pushbuttons surrounding it.
The driver merely has to comply with a logical basic procedure to gain access to all functions without the slightest difficulty. Information is displayed on a monitor in the driver?s direct field of view above the control elements. For additional convenience there are various touch switches on the steering wheel for operation of the audio system and car phone without having to take a hand off the wheel.
This by no means exhausts the list of electronic innovations aimed at ensuring the greatest possible comfort and convenience for the car?s occupants. The Avantissimo is also equipped with driver identification systems of the latest type. An authorised driver is identified automatically and remotely, using a signal sensor in the car key. The engine can only be started after successful driver identification.
For even more effective individual driver identification, a fingerprint scanner is provided. (concept carz) Once the driver has been identified, the seat position, air conditioning settings and MMI configuration previously chosen by that driver are selected again.Source - Audi