Enticing the world with a vision of its future design language, Audi pulled the sheets off a stunning concept car at the LA Auto Show that signals fresh, emboldened aesthetics for the German luxury brand. Called the Prologue, Audi design head Marc Lichte emphasized its importance the night before the official media unveiling at a private event in Hollywood. "This is more than a concept car. This is the beginning of a new era of design." 

At first blush this massive, artfully sculpted 2-door coupe looks like it could be a prime rival to the recently introduced Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe or the Cadillac Elmiraj concept. But Audi executives see the futuristic Prologue concept car as the inspiration for production models not far down the road. Lichte says the Audi Prologue will provide the "essence" for the coming A8 and A6 sedans, as well as the A7 5-door liftback.

"When he moved to Audi, Marc Lichte launched a design offensive," said Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi Board Member for Development, who brought Lichte to the luxury marque earlier this year from within the company's VW mainstream brand. "His clear philosophy and precise understanding of Audi DNA let him develop a design strategy that is opening up entirely new perspectives for us. It is progressive and highly emotional; it expresses the technological competence and quality claim of the brand perfectly. The Audi Prologue is its first proponent - it is a 'signature car' for Audi."

A New Design Takes Shape

That signature begins with the Audi Prologue concept coupe's new fascia that is defined by a new single-frame, horizontal face and slender headlights which look like furrowed LED eyebrows. Lichte says he intended the profile to be "more progressive, more sporty, yet still recognizable as an Audi." Viewed from the side, one can see what is perhaps the Prologue's most impressive and distinguishing visual component: a massive window cutout thanks to lack of a B-pillar, the traditional structural component that separates the front and rear of the cabin. In back is another new Audi design element: a red LED light band that spans the entire rear. The body itself is made from aluminum and ultra-high-strength steel.

Just as impressive are the visual cues that standout by not standing out, a testament to the attention to detail that went into crafting Audi's big 2-door concept. The fuel filler door, for example, is hidden within the right C-pillar and slides open electronically. The passenger doors don't have traditional handles, but instead open and close with power assistance via a touch of the hand.

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And that brings us to the inside of this grand 4-passenger coupe, which also signals a new take on Audi's interior design. Expected are the supple leather and other fine materials. But what really captures attention are the multiple digital screens, including a touch display ahead of the front-seat passenger. Especially impressive is a screen on the center tunnel for the driver that uses a bendable organic light-emitting diode (OLED). When not in operation the screen sits flush against the console. When the car is started the display literally stands up. Beyond the fact that it's among the coolest automotive parlor tricks we've seen lately, Audi says the screen's bendability "ensures a constant distance to the hand which makes for better ergonomics."

Beneath the Hood

Of course, this wouldn't be an Audi if it didn't have the brand's Quattro all-wheel-drive system and a potent powerplant to back up its visual statement of performance. In that regard Audi's new concept coupe also promises to deliver. Under the hood is a 4.0-liter turbocharged V8 that makes 605 horsepower and over 516 lb-ft of torque that propels the car via an 8-speed automatic transmission. Audi says the powerplant can propel the roughly 4,365-pound coupe to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. 

And that's not the only thing powering this powerful Audi. With an eye toward an electrified future, the Audi Prologue's powertrain includes a 48-volt subsystem that is powered by a belt starter generator and also boasts regenerative braking. In other words, this Audi super coupe is a mild hybrid, and Audi says the system used here "will soon be introduced to production cars." All told, Audi says the show car's combined fuel consumption is roughly 27.4 mpg. 

These are impressive stats in a concept car that can't help but captivate inside and out. We're eager to see just how much of this concept's cues become reality for Audi in the coming years.

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