Audi unveils new Prologue concept car

Audi Prologue concept

Audi has lifted the covers off its latest concept car, named Prologue, at the Los Angeles motor show.

This new design study from the premium German brand not only previews its future design direction, but also hints at the styling and proportions of its forthcoming A9 luxury coupe, which will do battle against Mercedes' flagship S-Class Coupe when it reaches showrooms in 2016.

Described by Audi's new head of design, Marc Lichte, as a "signature car for Audi", the svelte Prologue concept is both lower and shorter than the current A8 saloon, though at over five metres long and nearly two metres wide, it remains a very large car.

The prominent grille and sleek headlights – which will feature the brand's 'Matrix' LED technology – are an evolution of current Audi styling themes, though a heavily-contoured bumper gives a fresher, more purposeful edge.

As is the norm with concept cars, the Prologue wears huge 22-inch alloy wheels – though expect these to be toned down somewhat for a production version.

Audi Prologue concept

Audi Prologue concept

Under the bonnet is a 4.0-litre turbocharged TFSE petrol engine, lifted from the marque's current range-topping S8 saloon, though it has been fettled to produce 597bhp. Despite the car's sheer size, a towering 750Nm of torque sees it crack the 0-62mph sprint in a claimed 3.7 seconds – a figure that would see it out-accelerate the leviathan Mercedes S65 AMG Coupe, which takes 4.1 seconds to cover the benchmark dash.

And, unlike the Mercedes, the Audi Prologue emits CO2 at a rate of just 199g/km, thanks to a mild hybrid system that scavenges energy normally wasted under braking and coasting. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and Audi's quattro four-wheel-drive system, and the Prologue features air suspension and four-wheel steering for improved ride quality and handling.

Inside, the Prologue showcases a minimalist design, with most of the driver functions displayed within the instrument binnacle, a-la the new TT. The dashboard itself features three integrated touchscreen displays, eliminating the need for physical buttons and giving a clean, futuristic look. As ever with Audi, material quality, fit and finish are first rate.

What do you think of this latest Audi design study? Have your say in the comments section below.