Model-year 2001 is definitely the year of the station wagon for Audi.
With the much-anticipated Allroad quattro and S4 Avant heading to U.S., Audi seems intent on grabbing sales away from traditional sport/utility vehicles (SUV).
Already on sale Europe, the Allroad is based on the A6 Avant but has a wider track and taller body. It also has a beefier look with flared wheel arches and boldly shaped bumpers.
The Allroad gets a single engine when it comes to the U.S., but it's a winner: the 2.7L twin-turbocharged V-6, which deals out 250-hp and tugboat-quality torque.
Setting it apart from most traditional SUVs is a four-level air suspension that adjusts ride height to vehicle speed. It's that system that allows the Audi to have substantial ground clearance when necessary, to a maximum 8.2 inches.
With its love for SUV-type vehicles, Audi expect the U.S. as its largest market for the Allroad. The automaker is expecting a lot of women buyers in their 30s and 40s.
Audi buyers looking for a sportier station wagon will turn to the S4 Avant. It's equipped with quattro all-wheel-drive and that lovely 2.7L bi-turbo V-6.
Also new for '01 are Audi's TT Roadster and S8.
Following on the heels of the curvaceous TT Coupe, the Roadster is available with a 1.8L 4-cyl. turbocharged five-valve I-4 capable of 180 hp or 225 hp.
The vehicle has a soft-top with a heated rear window. Audi prides itself on the safety of the roadster, saying the vehicle is equipped with two aluminum rollover bars, front and rear crumple zone, high-strength side-intrusion protection bars in the door, large-volume body sill section, real crossmember and rollover bars along with several air bags.
The S8, due to be launched in January, will be equipped with a horsed-up version of the standard 300-hp 4.2L 5-valve V-8. New rating? A throat-clearing 360 hp.
Probably the most exciting lineup of vehicles Audi's ever had. The Allroad should do killer business and the A6 just keeps getting better. But plump prices mean you'd better shield entry-level prospects from the Volkswagen lot.