The new Audi A7 is the second model developed fully under design boss Marc Lichte, and is said to be the best indication yet of the company's future design direction.

Unveiled overnight, the A7 is described by Lichte as "the quintessence of the Prologue" series of concept cars, which included sharply-styled coupe and wagon versions.

With its tauter body surfacing, and creases above the wheel arches, the new A7 is said to "visualise Quattro", the company's all-wheel drive brand.

Earlier in the day, Andreas Mindt, Audi's director of exterior design, declared the debut of the second-generation A7 would usher in a new era of greater differentiation between models in its expanding range.

Mindt said the look of the latest A8 and A7 models are sign of how things are changing. Although both were inspired by the Prologue concepts, the A8 has an "upright, proud" look, while the A7 is tighter and more athletic.

Above: Audi A7 and Audi A8.

Throughout the day, designers from Audi were keen to stress all new cars would clearly come from the same family, but all would have their own character.

Mindt conceded to-date the company's cars were just a little too similar. He argued it was "very important to coin the brand", especially in new markets like China, but declared "that is behind us now".