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.
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.
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.