With the Avus quattro, Audi presented a desirable mid-engined sports car with a W12 engine at the 1991 Tokyo Motor Show. Despite much interest, it never made it to series production. Instead, this concept car served as a preview of various developments that Audi put into production shortly thereafter. For example, the car featured a brightly polished aluminium body, which reappeared in a similar way at the world premiere of the A8 sedan in 1994. In this way, the legendary Auto Union Silver Arrows of the pre-war era were cited. The design was also somewhat reminiscent of these racing cars. However, Audi didn’t yet use a spaceframe for the Avus as it did later for the A8, but rather a skeleton of steel tubes to hold the body parts. Nevertheless, a curb weight of 1,250 kilograms was promised. The 20-inch wheels alone were almost half the height of the entire car.
Behind the cockpit with two bucket seats in red leather was the first W12 engine in the history of the VW Group. This was to produce 374 kW/509 hp from six liters of displacement. A six-speed manual transmission was used to transmit power to the permanent quattro all-wheel drive system. The acceleration time from standstill to 62 mph was specified as around three seconds, the topspeed as 212 mph. However, the vast majority of experts assume that there was no running W12 available at the time of its debut in 1991. At least the engine block in the Avus quattro is only made of wood and plastic. The designers took the name of the sports car study from the Berlin racetrack AVUS (Automobil-Verkehrs- und Übungs-Straße). In Tokyo, the car outshone all other exhibits. Today, it still causes astonishment when it is displayed at Audi’s Museum Mobile in Ingolstadt. Together with the quattro Spyder, the Avus quattro is a predecessor to the Audi R8.