Audi unveils opulent Prologue coupe concept

Audi has unveiled a new luxury design concept at the LA Auto Show. Known as the Prologue Show car, it points towards new design direction for the German brand known for its conservative-looking cars.

In simple terms, the Prologue can be described as a coupe version of the A8 Limousine. At 5,100mm long and 1,950mm wide, it is very similar in size to the A8, but it’s 70mm lower to get things off to a sporty start.

After its sheer size, the most noticeable things are the crisp lines that give the concept a more muscular stance than any current Audi.

At the front, a wide hexagonal grille is flanked by motorsport-influenced air vents. Above them sit sharp wedge-like headlights, which feature Audi’s fancy laser matrix lighting technology. Audi says their beams can be focused accurately and intelligently by the onboard computer, adapting to weather conditions and oncoming traffic.

Gorgeous 22-inch wheels – hiding huge 20 inch brakes at the front – sit below chunky, squared off arches, which are a nod towards the old Ur-Quattro rally cars of the 1980s. The flanks are slightly pinched inwards towards the rear arches, emphasising the imposing stance. To prevent the flow of the sides from being interrupted (and because it’s a concept car), there are no door handles. Instead, touch sensitive sensors on the mirrors open the wide doors when touched.

At the rear, the window glass is concave (much like a Citroen C5) and the rear slopes forward at the top, which both emphasise forward motion, according to Audi. Slim, horizontal rear light clusters incorporate LED lights, which can create a novel 3D effect depending on whether you’re braking, indicating or just using the tail lights. A large rear diffuser sits beneath the bumper, and integrates the exhaust pipes within it.

On the inside

Audi liken the interior to a “luxurious lounge”. A simple, flowing dash featuring touch-screen OLED displays frees the cabin from buttons, while air vents remain hidden behind a perforated panel, appearing only when full blast is needed. The displays allow for what Audi calls a “digital interaction” between the driver and front passenger, so presumably the car acts as an intermediary when speaking to the person next to you becomes too much to bear…

The prologue even features a butler (Audi’s words, not ours). Each passenger is identified via their own smartphone, and upon entering the cabin the seats and climate control are adjusted according to their own tastes.

The engine is a development of the 4.0-litre TFSI V8 petrol engine used elsewhere in the Audi range. Here, the twin-turbo unit produces 597hp and 516lb ft of torque. An overboost function boosts that to 553lb-ft for up to 15 seconds for when that regular figure isn’t quite enough.

The Prologue Concept will hit 60mph from a standstill in 3.7 seconds. Audi claims a fuel economy figure of 32.8mpg, aided by a new 48 volt electrical system which allows for energy recovery during braking via a small generator. Essentially making the concept a hybrid of sorts, the tech will eventually filter down to the rest of Audi’s range. Cylinder on Demand technology shuts off four of the eight cylinders on light throttle loads to make the Prologue more frugal when cruising.

Rear-wheel steering and more

Active rear steering enables the rear wheels to turn up to five degrees to help with agility and stability depending on road speeds. A trick new five-link suspension is paired with adaptable air springs, which adjust ride height and chassis set up according to driver preferences. A quattro four-wheel-drive system boosts traction, while torque vectoring – a system which diverts power and brakes individual wheels – increases cornering grip.

Although only officially a concept, many of the design features of the Prologue will appear on the rest of the Audi range, and also shows potential for a rival for the Mercedes S-Class coupe.

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