Audi prologue show carAudi is launching into a new design era: At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Marc Lichte, Head of Design, is presenting the Audi prologue concept car.

Lichte is giving the Audi brand a new styling direction in the large coupe.

Audi design is now expressing progressive technology even more powerfully. The two-door coupe has a flowing, elegant shape and taut design. Its forms and lines are unmistakable and introduce many new ideas. In the clear and unobstructed interior, the architecture melds with the display and operating concept to create a new type of unit. The entire front of the instrument panel is a large touch display, and a portion of the user interface operates with a new type of OLED display made of organic LEDs.

The show car’s technology combines power, comfort and efficiency. The 4.0 TFSI produces up to 605PS of power and 750 Nm (553.2 lb-ft) of torque; it accelerates the Audi prologue from 0 to 62mph in 3.7 seconds. Its dynamic all-wheel steering, in which the rear wheels can turn up to five degrees, makes the large couple extremely responsive and stable while driving.

The Audi prologue is somewhat shorter and flatter than today’s production A8, with a length of 5.10 metres, wheelbase of 2.94 metres, width of 1.95 metres and height of 1.39 metres. A dominant feature at its low front end is a Singleframe grille displaying the four rings that is integrated into the automobile architecture. The large radiator grille has been widened much more, and it is positioned lower than on today’s production models. Its strong horizontal effect expresses an image of powerful dynamics. The cross bars have a finely structured diamond pattern, and their ends are split.

The headlights – shaped like wide, flat wedges – are located with their tips above the Singleframe. They present high-resolution Matrix laser technology: an innovation from Audi which opens up new approaches to headlight design and enables completely new functionalities. The pupils of the headlights are formed by a projection lens with a laser light source – they generate a matrix that illuminates the entire street in high resolution. Hovering beneath this element are five plastic lenses that are supplied with light via a glass fibre bundle, which are mounted to a lightweight structure and further extend the high-beam light. The new laser technology lets lighting designers create an extremely lightweight, compact and elegant eye-shaped form.

Audi prologue show carAlso new is the sculptural form of the air intakes under the headlights – the distinctive air intakes have diamond pattern screens in their interiors. A dynamically contoured blade, which is clearly separated from the bumper by a gap, elicits associations to motor sport. Mounted to it are two additional spoilers in glossy black, which give the show car an even stronger and wider stance on the road.

In side profile, its flowing silhouette expresses the character of forward motion in the Audi prologue. Balanced proportions put equal emphasis on the front and rear wheels – a clear reference to the quattro DNA of Audi. The powerful 22-inch wheels are set in widely flared wheel arches. They are fitted with tyres of size 285/30. Each wheel’s ten intertwining Y spokes project a filigreed, three-dimensional and powerful image.

A characteristic feature of the Audi prologue are the flared shoulders above the wheels, front and rear. Like the blisters of the original Audi Ur-quattro of the 1980s, they visualise the quattro drive – but they are no longer just added on, rather they are worked into the flow of the base architecture. In a side view, the shoulders form two gentle arcs above the wheels, which break up the somewhat lower shoulder line between the wheels.

The wings, doors and rear side panels show curved muscular surfaces. The lower door area has a low concave shape that runs upwards to the rear – a motif that links to the design theme of air inlets. The side sills are drawn inward; glossy black aprons form a continuation of the front spoiler. All lines and surfaces on the Audi prologue show car are logically interrelated, which is typical Audi.

The door mirrors are small aluminium sculptures: The mirror housings in the form of a shell create a flowing transition to the window slot trim. They also integrate the open-door sensor surfaces. The doors have no handles, and they are opened electromechanically when the illuminated sensor surfaces are touched.

Vast areas of the stiff multimaterial body of the Audi prologue consist of aluminium and ultra-high-strength steel. The windows are framed by matt and polished aluminium trim strips. At the end of the low roof dome, the window framing transitions into a solid surface of aluminium; its workmanship illustrates the handcraft-like manufacturing quality of Audi, and it enables lowering of the windows despite the C-pillars. This area integrates the fuel tank lid on the right side of the show car. It has an electric opening mechanism and can be lowered completely into the C-pillar by pressing a button in the interior. For enhanced convenience in refuelling, the tank closure does not have a cap. The paint is a light diva grey, a new type of pearl effect paint, which has a warm and elegant appearance.

The rear section of the Audi prologue also breaks with conventions. It is angled in the driving direction and is reminiscent of the side and rear views of a luxurious yacht; the sickle-shaped seam between the side panel and the bumper emphasises this dynamism. The edge of the boot lid, which is executed as a discreet spoiler, picks up on the blister line coming from the side panel. Between the C-pillars, the rear window has a concave inward curve – it closes off the passenger compartment while enabling convenient cargo loading with the separate boot lid. The Audi prologue unites the positive aspects of a saloon with the aesthetic highlights of a coupe.

The unconventional design of the LED rear lights with their 3D glass gives the tail lights all of the benefits of the new design: the new, long tail lights run across the entire width of the car. At its termination point, the light illuminates the frame of the embossed 3D form. Fine lines in the 3D glass appear to hover in the middle of the light. The brake light is located deep inside the lighting unit. When braking, the bottom of the 3D imprint is also illuminated, which makes the light appear to move towards the observer. This configuration on different levels, and the alternation between 2D and 3D lighting functions lets the observer experience the tail lights in an entirely new dynamic way.

Beneath the bumper, there is a diffuser made of black anodised aluminium; like the front blade, it extends over the full width of the car as a separate, significantly recessed element. The diffuser integrates two trapezoid-shaped inlets which visually coordinate with the embossed tail lights and house the exhaust system tailpipes.

The spacious interior of the Audi prologue is like a luxurious lounge. It is based on Gran Turismo design, and it enables both very focused driving and relaxed touring. The interface visually adapts to the specific driving style. The interior marks the beginning of a new design era at Audi, in which the architecture merges with the operating concept to form one unit. The surfaces for displays and controls are innovatively integrated into the instrument panel and console of the centre tunnel, and the infotainment system brings driver and passenger into dialog with one another.

When entering the vehicle, the four-seat coupe receives its passengers with polite hospitality. The “butler” – an innovative intelligent software program – identifies them based on their smartphones and adjusts the seats and climate control system according to their preferences. The system also makes recommendations for music and route planning that are oriented towards the owner’s preferences. The Easy Slot system, an advanced development of the Audi phone box, is located under lids in the centre console. A special mechanism networks the smartphones of passengers to the vehicle infotainment system and charges them.

Audi prologue show carA radically new type of display and operating concept is embedded in the elegant architecture. Across its full width, the front of the instrument panel is designed to be a display surface which integrates three touch displays. The driver-oriented display to the left of the steering wheel is used to control functions for lighting and assistance systems. The driver-oriented operating unit to the right contains media controls. The front passenger faces a widescreen display that is integrated into the full surface of the instrument panel; it is used to individually and conveniently control entertainment features.

The new type of front passenger display enables digital interaction between the driver and front passenger for the first time. A wiping movement by the passenger is all it takes to send pre-configured routes to the driver’s display and input them into the Audi virtual cockpit future.

On the console of the centre tunnel, there is a fourth flexible touch display that is ergonomically adapted to the driver; it is used for climate control, handwriting input and other vehicle settings. This display consists primarily of an extremely thin, bendable OLED film (OLED: organic light emitting diodes), and it displays extremely sharp images that are rich in contrast. When not in use, the OLED display is integrated flush to the center console and is nearly invisible. When the car is started, the flexible display stands up. The fact that it bends ensures a constant distance to the hand which makes for better ergonomics. When operating the display, the wrist rests on the low-positioned gear selector lever of the eight-speed tiptronic. Designers have also redesigned the shift-by-wire lever. It is now integrated seamlessly into the centre console. Cupholders and smartphone slots are installed under lids on the centre console, to the left and right of the console support element.

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