It may look like a radical new A5 coupe, but the Audi Prologue concept unveiled at a glitzy house in the Hollywood hills actually provides our first glimpse at the next-generation A6, A7, and A8.
The Audi Prologue concept is the first model penned under new Audi design head Marc Lichte (pictured above), who came on board with the German luxury brand in February. It evolves the vertical single-frame grille opening that has defined Audis for a decade, instead stretching the grille horizontally to emphasize, according to Lichte, the car’s sportiness.
“The single frame [grille] will be in the future a lot more horizontal,” Lichte says, “And altogether it gives the car in front a completely different approach. It will be more progressive and more sporty.”
The result is that the Audi Prologue concept has an extremely wide polygonal grille opening, which sits between extremely narrow headlights and below a very low hood. Flat areas above the front fenders lead into an angled element below the beltline, which Lichte explains gives the effect of having a lower center of mass, thus helping it appear lighter. The plunging roofline meets a stubby trunklid that has a full-width LED taillight assembly, with very soft, rounded edges. From behind, the Prologue looks less Audi and more like a Saab 9-5 or a Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe.
“It’s immediately recognizable as an Audi,” Lichte says, “But a lot lower and a lot wider. Audi will change dramatically in proportions.”
The cabin has very few buttons, instead relying on touchscreens and color displays that expand upon the interior treatment used in the new 2016 Audi TT. The center stack has a Tesla Model S-like touchscreen, while the dashboard has a markedly plain, horizontal design.
Beneath the hood, the Audi Prologue concept packs a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 good for 605 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, enough to rocket the show car to 62 mph in a claimed 3.7 seconds. Rear-wheel steering, which can angled the back wheels by as much as five degrees, is said to improve high-speed stability.
Although concept cars often show fanciful designs that are then diluted for production, Lichte says that the next-gen A6, A7, and A8 will adhere closely to the language set in motion by this Prologue concept. “This car is the essence of all three cars,” he says. “That means all the elements you see in the show car will go into production.”
Not every new Audi, however, will look like this. Lichte says that the next-gen A4 had already been fully designed by the time he came on board, so it will continue today’s Audi design language when it debuts next year. Audi’s Q crossover lineup will also use a slightly different take on the Prologue’s style, though Lichte won’t be drawn on how the look might differ.