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LA show: Audi Prologue a taste of things to come

Taste test: By name and nature, the Prologue previews a new flagship sports-luxury coupe model line for the Audi brand, widely believed to be called ‘A9’ when it reaches production around 2016.

Audi unveils flagship coupe concept pointing to future series, broader tech updates


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20 Nov 2014

AUDI unveiled its impressive Prologue concept at the Los Angeles auto show overnight, describing the flagship sports-luxury 2+2 coupe as a “foretaste of (the) future” that represents a new design direction and model niche for the high-end German brand.

Widely speculated to preview an all-new ‘A9’ model line, the two-door, twin-turbocharged V8 Prologue rests on a slightly shorter 2940mm wheelbase than the current A8 (-52mm) and stretches 5100mm from end to end, down 35mm on the sedan, but has an equally wide (1950mm) and flatter stance at 1390mm in overall height – 70mm lower than the four-door.

Set to take on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe when the series reaches production in around two years’ time, Audi has dubbed the Prologue concept a “signature car” for the brand that marks the first major work of design chief Marc Lichte, hired earlier this year to reinterpret the brand’s styling while not abandoning its sporty, technically proficient look.

Audi R&D chief Ulrich Hackenberg said Mr Lichte’s work is “opening up entirely new perspectives for us”.

“It is progressive and highly emotional, it expresses the technological competence and quality claim of the brand perfectly,” he said.

Mr Lichte, meanwhile, said the four-ringed brand embodies “sportiness, lightweight design and quattro permanent all-wheel drive” and so in the Prologue he has expressed this understanding in a new form – in short, “we have put the sportiest car in the luxury segment on wheels”.

The front end is dominated by a fresh take on the trademark single-frame grille – much wider than on current production models, and positioned lower – flanked by large and highly sculpted air intakes and slim headlights “shaped like wide, flat wedges” that use Matrix laser technology.

The power source is a familiar 4.0-litre TFSI bi-turbo bent-eight that in this case delivers 445kW of power and 700Nm of torque, the latter increasing to 750Nm for around 15 seconds in overboost mode. It drives all four wheels through an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission.

With the mainly aluminium- and high-strength-steel-bodied show car tipping the scales at 1980kg, Audi claims 100km/h can be reached from standstill in just 3.7 seconds.

It can also theoretically return combined-cycle fuel economy of 8.6 litres per 100km, equivalent to 199 grams per kilometre of CO2 emissions, aided by a new 48-volt electrical system that the company says will soon be introduced to its production cars.

The Prologue also features a new five-link front and rear suspension design with adaptive air springs that “offers a large adjustment range between smooth rolling and very tight handling” and can also vary the ground clearance “over several levels”.

This chassis development can also be expected on production models before long.

A dynamic four-wheel steering system also features on the concept car, offering rear-wheel steering angles of up to five degrees. Audi says the system improves the vehicle’s dynamic performance and also makes it easier to manoeuvre when parking.

Stopping power comes from large 20-inch carbon-fibre ceramic disc brakes gripped by six-piston fixed callipers. These are housed within 22-inch wheels (each with 10 intertwining Y spokes) wrapped in 285/30-section tyres, all stuffed inside widely flared wheelarches.

Audi says that the Prologue’s proportions put equal emphasis on the front and rear wheels – a clear reference to its quattro character – while in side profile, the flowing silhouette is meant to express the “character of forward motion”.

The rear section is described as breaking with convention, angled in the driving direction and reminiscent, Audi says, of the side and rear views of a luxurious yacht. The LED rear lights with 3D glass spanning the entire width of the car are also highlighted for their unconventional design.

Inside, the four-seater cabin is said to be spacious and lounge-like, based on Gran Turismo themes that cater for serious sporting driving as well as relaxed touring.

The entire front of the instrument panel is designed as a display surface, integrating three touchscreen displays. Two are for the driver while the third is tailored for the front passenger and, according to Audi, “enables digital interaction between the driver and front passenger for the first time”.

“A wiping movement by the passenger is all it takes to send preconfigured routes to the driver’s display and input them into the Audi virtual cockpit future,” the company says.

On the centre console, a fourth touchscreen display featuring OLEDs (organic light emitting diodes) is provided for climate control, handwriting input and other vehicle systems.

“The interior marks the beginning of a new design era at Audi, in which the architecture merges with the operating concept to form one unit,” the company says.

“The surfaces for displays and controls are innovatively integrated into the instrument panel and console of the centre tunnel, and the infotainment system brings driver and passenger into dialogue with one another.”

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