Audi pulled off one of the surprises of the show with the Avantissimo concept, said by insiders to be poised to form the pinnacle of the new A8 range to debut at the Paris show next autumn.
Kevin Rose, Audi UK managing director, said: “People will look at it and say an estate is a utility vehicle and the A8 segment is about luxury.
“That used to be the case in the C-sector before we came in with the A4 Avant and look what happened. It's worked in other segments so could at the luxury end.”
Mr Rose said the Avantissimo would have to target top-end Range Rovers and Mercedes M-classes.
“It would especially appeal to those who demanded the luxury trappings but were not interested in the pure off-road capabilities of the vehicle. It would be a different proposition but whether it would attract 1,000, 5,000 or 10,000 buyers is an unknown quantity.”
Mr Rose said the new A8 range (in UK showrooms from early 2003) was their third product in a conservative, tough sector. “Generally it's the third product which breaks through for you so we are ambitious for the car,” he said.