Perhaps the most Avant of Audi's Avant models, the Ingolstadt-based brand presented the world in 2001 the Avantissimo, a futuristic concept that took estate cars (or 'Avants', to use the brand's nomenclature) to the next level.

An extra-luxury family car with a thousand innovations, but one that was later discarded in favour of the Q7 SUV.

It stands out

The Avantissimo is decidedly imposing, measuring 5.06 metres in length, 1.91 metres in width and 1.43 metres in height. Based on the A8 of the time, this Audi is powered by a 4.2-litre twin-turbo V8, inherited from the powerful RS 6, capable of delivering 430 PS and a maximum torque of 600 Nm.

<p>Audi Avantissimo Concept</p>

Audi Avantissimo Concept

This Audi is equipped with a six-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox, all-wheel drive and air suspension.

The lightweight aluminium structure, based on ASF (Audi Space Frame) technology already used on models such as the A8 and A2, gives the Avantissimo exceptional rigidity combined with low weight.

The line features special headlamps equipped with a system capable of tilting the headlamps by 45° during operation to improve visibility. However, when not in use, the headlights return to a horizontal position.

The tailgate can be opened electrohydraulically to an angle of 70° using a remote control. Under the load floor, a removable drawer offers 70 litres of extra space, while a sliding shelf makes it easy to optimise loading.

Avant-garde

The interior of the Avantissimo features individually adjustable rear seats that can be reclined to a position similar to that of a first-class aircraft seat. The height of the armrests can be customised for each passenger, guaranteeing truly made-to-measure comfort.

<p>Audi Avantissimo, the interior</p>

Audi Avantissimo, the interior

In addition, the roof incorporates photovoltaic cells that provide energy for the vehicle's auxiliary ventilation when the engine is switched off. The Audi also features an MMI (Multi Media Interface) system, which controls all the car's main functions.

Despite its charm and innovative features, the Audi A8 Avantissimo remained no more than a prototype. In fact, the growing popularity of SUVs in the early 2000s prompted Audi to concentrate its resources on other models, so the super-estate project was abandoned in favour of the more versatile Q7, which was an immediate commercial success.

Gallery: Audi Avantissimo (2001)