The Audi Prologue concept has been revealed on the eve of the Los Angeles auto show, giving the automotive world its first glimpse at the car maker’s new design language.
The large, low-slung coupe is also believed to preview a new flagship luxury model from the brand, speculatively dubbed the Audi A9, to sit above the A8 limousine.
The first creation of new Audi head of design Marc Lichte, the Prologue concept features a new interpretation of brand’s signature hexagonal radiator grille, piercing wedge-shaped headlights, and technical body lines and contours. The rear gets new tail-lights that span the boot rear quarter panels, and a curved rear windscreen reminiscent of the Citroen C5 and C6 sedans.
Beneath the long, clamshell bonnet sits a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine that produces 445kW and 700Nm, and an extra 50Nm for up to 15 seconds on overboost.
Audi says it’s good for launching the 5.1-metre, 1980kg coupe from 0-100km/h in a supercar-rivalling 3.7 seconds, while it also claims combined cycle fuel consumption of 8.6 litres per 100 kilometres.
Contributing to that efficiency is its new 48-volt electrical system, which is on its way to Audi’s production cars in the near future. The system is supplied by a belt starter generator, which turns the powertrain into a mild hybrid and has an energy recovery output of up to 12kW during braking.
An eight-speed automatic transmission delivers power to Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system, which works in tandem with torque vectoring technology.
Dynamic all-wheel steering means each corner is also responsible for directing the luxury coupe. The rear wheels are capable of turning up to five degrees, which Audi says improves agility and turning ability at lower speeds and increases responsiveness and stability at higher speeds.
The Prologue concept also features adaptive air suspension with a lightweight five-link layout front and rear. Joining it behind the sharply cut 22-inch alloy wheels are carbonfibre disc brakes (measuring a monstrous 20 inches at the front) and six-piston fixed calipers.
The cabin introduces a new design concept that Audi describes as merging the architecture with the operating system, with surfaces for displays and controls integrated seamlessly into the instrument panel and console of the centre tunnel.
The display to the left of the steering wheel controls the lighting and assistance systems and the unit to the right contains media controls, while the front passenger faces a widescreen display that allows them to access entertainment features.
The passenger display also enables digital interaction between the driver and front occupant, allowing the passenger to create navigation routes, for example, and swipe them across to the driver’s display.
A fourth display on the centre tunnel is used for climate control, handwriting input and other vehicles settings. The flexible screen consists of an extremely thin, bendable OLED (organic light emitting diode) film. It stands up when the car is started, and integrates flush into the console when not in use.
Behind the steering wheel sits Audi’s ‘virtual cockpit’ instrument cluster, which displays content on different dimensional levels depending on its relevance to the driver, and changes colour based on driving style.
The four-seat Prologue introduces the new ‘butler’ system, which can identify passengers based on their smartphones and adjust the seats and climate control system according to their preferences. The system can also make recommendations for music and route planning oriented towards the driver’s preferences.
Audi board member for development Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, who brought Lichte to Ingolstadt in 2014, says the designer’s new philosophy is “opening up entirely new perspectives” for the brand.
“It is progressive and highly emotional; it expresses the technological competence and quality claim of the brand perfectly,” Hackenberg said.
“The Audi Prologue is its first proponent – it is a ‘signature car’ for Audi.”
Click the Photos tab for more Audi Prologue concept images.