This is the Audi Prologue, the much-vaunted LA show car rumoured to be the forerunner of a flagship A9 road car. The Prologue badge fits in with the suggestion that its design cues will form the basis of Audi’s next generation of production cars.
These official images finally show far more of the large two-door coupe’s exterior than the shadowy teaser pictures previously issued.
Why should I be interested the Audi Prologue concept?
Audi has developed a successful cookie-cutter design formula for its cars over the past few years, but even we'd struggle to tell some of their models apart and observers have been wondering for some time what the company has been planning to do next. This is the first clue.
It’s been overseen by Audi’s new design boss Marc Lichte, who took on the role in February 2014.
‘This is much more than a concept car,’ declared Lichte as the covers came off the Prologue yesterday. ‘It is a new era for Audi design.’ So what does the future according to Lichte look like?
Lower, wider, faster:
‘Generally the proportions are more sporty; longer wheelbase, wider track, lower cabin, says Lichte. 'You’ll also notice than in profile the front is very vertical. When you combine this with a really fast back, as we have done, you create the sense of a car rushing forward.'
Lichte cites predecessor Walter de Silva’s single front grille as the defining element in Audi’s design language in recent years. On Prologue he’s made it wider, accentuating the horizontal elements at the front of the car. ‘It is still a single frame but it is a lot more horizontal, for a sporty, progressive look.’ The grille sets the agenda for the look of the rest of the car too, with lines and creases running aft from its corners up the bonnet and down the flanks.
‘The design has a clear strategy behind it, and one of the things we wanted to do was to underline our brand values. One of those is quattro. We’ve done that here by lowering the shoulder lines between the wheels, which gives us the space for these muscles above the front and rear wheels, emphasising Quattro.’
And what about a production version?
Many of the Prologue’s design cues are likely to find their way onto the next-generation Audi A8, due in 2016. Read all we know about the future A8 here.
It’s also widely believed that Audi is planning a 'coupaloon' A9 model to sit above the A8, just like the A7’s relationship to the A6. If so, look no further – this concept is our first view of it.
What’s the Audi Prologue interior like?
To get inside the Prologue, first you need to open the doors by touching the underside of the door mirrors – there are no handles on the doors.
Once you’re in, you’ll find a minimalist environment with almost no buttons and touchscreen controls for both the driver and passenger. The car’s configured using a pop-up touchscreen, developed in conjunction with Samsung, that rises up into position atop the transmission tunnel when you turn on the ignition.
Just as Prologue’s metalwork is essentially a preview of the next generation A6, A7, A8 and unconfirmed but hardly denied A9 6-series rival, so the interior ‘defines Audi’s future interior architecture’, according to Lichte.
It’s quick, too
Under the broad bonnet is a 4.0-litre bi-turbo petrol engine with close to 600bhp and 553lb ft of torque available, driving all four wheels through an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox. Audi claims 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds - despite an unladen weight of 1980kg.
Not only are all four wheels driven, they can all help with the steering too. The rear wheels swivel by up to five degrees to aid stability at high speed and response at low speeds, making it easier to manoeuvre the car’s considerable bulk in car parks.
The whole thing’s supported by adaptive air suspension with a five-link layout front and rear, and stopped by huge carbonfibre brake discs – a whopping 20 inches in diameter at the front.
As for efficiency, Audi claims 32.8mpg and CO2 output of 199g/km. That’s aided by a 48-volt charging system to help recover energy during braking – a system that’s coming virtually unchanged to production Audis near you soon.