Audi unveils a new generation of styling, interior treatment and technology with its new Prologue concept, which could also provide clues to the super-luxury A9
15 September 2014

The Audi Prologue concept car closely previews the look of the next-generation A8, A7 and A6 models, senior officials have confirmed.

The concept is also said to closely resemble the upcoming Audi A9 – a plush new flagship coupé planned to be launched in 2016 as a rival to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-class coupé.

Read Autocar's first drive of the Audi Prologue concept car

It shows the exterior styling, advanced interior features, powertrain technology and various chassis developments set to be adopted by Audi's future generation of production models, and is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine developing 597bhp.

Speaking at the LA motor show, Audi tech chief Ulrich Hackenberg said the next-generation A8, due in late 2016, would kick-off the firm’s new era. The design for the new luxury saloon has already been signed off, and it was designed alongside the next-gen A7 and A6, both of which have already been signed off. Both Hackenberg and new design chief Marc Lichte are promising greater visual differentiation between future Audis.

The Prologue concept car was designed after the A8/A7/A6 designs were finalised. As such, Lichte said every element on the Prologue will be able to be seen in the future production cars.

"I gave Marc his first job of designing the new A8, and the Prologue concept is a trailer for that," Hackenberg revealed. "This concept is the next step of Audi design. The new A8 will launch by the end of 2016.

"The next A6 and A7 will also have this look. In the A8, there will be a lot of features from the Prologue. The face and the interior in particular; I'm not a fan of concept cars that are too spectacular, so that's why you'll see so much of this design in the new cars."

Hackenberg said that Audi was ready for a new design language. "I promised to take care of the design when I came to Audi," said Hackenberg. "We will be making the cars more different, yes. You'll see lots of differences in the new cars.

"Marc is tasked with doing something new, and you need courage and ability to do that. It's a very hard job to do, to regenerate design and take the next step and evolve. Lichte is ambitious and has the ability to do that."

Hackenberg said he and Lichte had arrived too late at Audi to greatly influence the look of more imminent models such as the Q7 and A4, both of which are on sale next year. As such, it'll be the end of 2016 before the new Audi look hits the road.

The A8 will soon be followed by all-new versions of the A7 and A6, both of which are due around 2017. The A7 is said by Lichte to be even more extreme than the Prologue concept. 

The Prologue gets a heavily reworked single-frame grille that is significantly wider than that used on existing Audi models. Also included are slimline matrix laser beam headlights housing five individual lenses that provide adaptive functions, including automatic high-beam dipping when oncoming traffic is detected.

With an aluminium and high-strength steel body, the concept is 40mm shorter and 70mm lower than the current A8, with official figures of 5100mm and 1390mm respectively, and is the same width at 1950mm. It also sits on a wheelbase that is 50mm shorter than the A8's, at 2940mm, and gets 22-inch wheels.

Power comes from Audi’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine – as used in the existing A6, A7 and A8 as well as various Bentley models.

The 90-degree unit has been tuned to deliver 597bhp and 516lb ft of torque – or 553lb ft in overboost mode during short bursts of full-throttle action.

With drive channelled through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and Torsen four-wheel drive system, this provides the Prologue with a theoretical 0-62mph time of just 3.7sec, according to Audi’s own computer simulations.

As well as using a cylinder-on-demand arrangement that shuts off four of the eight cylinders on light throttle loads for added fuel efficiency, the engine also uses a 48-volt electrical system that should be adopted on the next A8 as part of a new raft of fuel-saving initiatives. The Prologue is claimed to return 32.8mpg, giving it a CO2 emissions figure of 199g/km. 

The new Audi concept also provides clues to the advanced chassis ready to be adopted by the new A8 and its more sporting A9 sibling; it uses a new five-link suspension with adaptive air springs capable of varying the ride height.

Inside, the dash incorporates a full-width instrument panel featuring an OLED display that enables digital interaction between the driver and front seat passenger.

Hackenberg added that it would be “no trouble” to create a big coupé for production along similar lines to the concept.

Q&A, Marc Lichte, Audi design chief

How close to production is this concept car?

Usually when you design a concept car, everyone is happy with it, but less so when they actually see it in production and it looks very different. This is a different approach. We design the new A8, A7 and A6 models first, then put the essence of all three of them into the Prologue. Every element can be traced into the production cars; some things might be a bit louder in the A7, and a bit quieter in the A8, but it’s all in there.

Have recent Audis been too similar in design?

It has been the right thing to do to evolve the design in small steps. When Walter de Silva introduced the single frame grille on the 2004 A6, people thought it was too radical. But it was the right thing to do, as it gave Audi a face. It was something new so had to be given time. Now after 10 years, people know the face of Audi and it’s time to do something new, but keeping the single frame grille as it would be a mistake to change our face.

Will there be greater differentiation between future Audis?

We need to differentiate more and I promise they will be different. We designed the A8, A7 and A6 together so made sure they were all different. The design of all three was signed off within only eight months of me arriving here. We’ll differentiate a lot and you’ll be able to tell which model is which. They’ll all be linked though through the single frame grille, but we can do something really radical still We’re doing this with the next generation A1 for instance. And the Q8, it will have the single frame grille but clearly something radical and very different.

How will the interiors of future Audis evolve?

Audi has always led in interiors, but rivals are catching up. So we need to do something radical, and the Prologue shows that. Tesla did a good job of integrating technology inside, but it is not aesthetic. That’s what we’ve done, by integrating the technology into the architecture. Materials also are all natural and authentic – not perfect, but natural is premium. 

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Our Verdict

Audi A8
The third generation Audi A8 is the best yet - and by some margin

The Audi A8 is a highly capable and desirable luxury saloon that's very easy to live with, despite its flaws

19 September 2014

Its doesnt look anything like an A3 saloon, A4 saloon, A5 hatchback, A6 Saloon, A7 Hatchback or an A8 Saloon.

An Audi photocopier can only resize the drawings .. it cannot change shapes in the drawings.

19 November 2014

Very beautiful and elegant, I like it

19 September 2014

Jaguar do one saloon in 3 sizes now.

Isn't an A7 enough of a CLS rival?

-------- 

I'm The Ωmega Man, always talking to myself

19 November 2014

Oh Please. Stop it, at once.

www.KOOOLcr.com

 

19 September 2014

...the new Lagonda looks the same at the front.

19 November 2014

It's a nice looking car but I'm not sure it moves the game on at all are far as styling is concerned does it?

XXXX's intellect just went POP!

19 September 2014

Totally agree the Lagonda has the same frontal design. Headlamps integrated into the grill.. Not so sure about this design

Hopefully the real thing will be better and little bit more avantgarde than the current audi's

MrJ

19 November 2014

Take care Audi: there are shades of Aston Martin and Ford in that latest grille.

TS7

19 September 2014

...slightly different shaped doors then.

19 November 2014

copied from the Citroen C6?

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