This Autocar image shows how the next Audi A6 could look
The look will be showcased by the new A8 - which will err towards sophistication when it is revealed in autumn 2017 - and the new A7, which will be more overtly sporty and will be revealed in late 2017.
However, it is the new A6 - due to launch early in 2018 - which will take the new design language, led by Marc Lichte who joined the firm from VW in February 2014, into the mainstream. Audi bosses hope the dramatically sportier look will be a key differentiator in its battle for sales with the more conservative BMW 5 Series and more ‘Russian Doll’ styling of the current Mercedes range.
Since his arrival Lichte has led a design shift that means all Audis will be designed around the three pillars of being sophisticated, sporting and progressive. Key to that philosophy will be introducing a more dramatic, sportier look, underpinned by the firm’s heritage with the original Quattro.
The 2014 Audi Prologue Concept is reported to have been designed after the production versions of the A8, A7, A6 and Q8 were signed off and is believed to give strong clues as to how they will all look. This includes the A6 saloon and Avant, with the latter said to combine generous boot space with dramatic looks thanks to straight roofline that dramatically plunges down the extreme sloping C-pillar.
As such, strong, Quattro-esque haunches over the front and rear wheels are expected to get an ever-more prominent look. Other key design elements for the A6 and A6 Avant will include a wide hexagonal single-frame grille, angular headlights with distinctive LED graphics and a significantly more heavily contoured bonnet. The side view also features several dramatic lines to give the car greater visual drama.
The new A6 is said to have a slightly longer wheelbase, wider tracks and much shorter overhangs than the current car, in order to give it a far sportier visual presence. The new layout will also give it slightly more interior space and a larger boot in both the saloon and Avant models, rising from the current 530 litres and 565 litres respectively.
The A8, A7 and A6 were all designed together on the VW Group’s MLB platform under the internal codename C8, and all share the same platform, driveline, chassis and electrical systems. Consequently, the A6 will also be equipped as standard with the firm’s new interior layout, which utilises a digital screen in the instrument binnacle, as pioneered on the current Audi TT, as well as two touchscreens in the centre of the dashboard.
The top screen, in the driver’s eyeline, will feature the most commonly used systems such as the sat-nav, while systems such as the air-con will be controlled by the lower screen. For the first time, the screens will provide haptic feedback so that the user has the sensation of hitting the right button. However, physical buttons will be limited to around just half a dozen, as required by law. Underlining the more overtly sporting theme, the touch screens will be more aggressively angled towards the driver on sportier models including the A7.
As well as the touchscreens the new interior layout of the A6, A7 and A8 will be dramatically different from today, featuring a cleaner look with a marked step between its different levels. With the touchscreens integrated into the central area, the sweeping dash is designed to give the cabin a wider, more sophisticated feel. Reports suggest that the A8 dash may not even have any visible air vents, but the A6 and A7 layout is said to be more conventional.
One of the physical buttons will control the new artificial intelligence function that Audi is believed to be developing. All of these systems will be updated using a new connectivity platform that uses wireless local area network technology to allow for continuous updating of traffic conditions for the navigation system and software updates for the control system.
The new platform adopts a high percentage of hot-formed high-strength steel, aluminium and carbonfibre-reinforced plastic to cut weight. Audi sources suggest the entry-level four-pot petrol A6 weighs well under the 1535kg of today’s A6 1.8 TFSI.
Power for the volume-sellers will continue to come from an extended range of four-cylinder engines. These will be revised versions of today’s petrol and diesel fours and offer similar outputs to those used by the new A4.
More luxurious petrol A6s will use new 3.0-litre V6 and 4.0-litre V8 engines sourced from the Audi-Porsche ‘Kovomo’ engine joint venture, according to insiders.
Audi also plans a new range of V6 and V8 diesels with electric turbocharging - a technology Audi will launch on its upcoming SQ7.
In addition, Audi will give A6 buyers the option of a petrol-electric or diesel-electric plug-in hybrid system.
Additional reporting by Jim Holder
Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below: