Audi’s Prologue concept previews next-generation styling and tech

Over the past decade and a half, Audi has made the leap from the middle to the head of the luxury-car pack, and a big part of that success is the brand’s distinctive styling.

The shield grille and LED eyelashes are the envy of the car industry, but where does Audi go from there?

The answer to that question debuts this week at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. As the name implies, the Audi Prologue concept opens the book on a new styling theme.

The Prologue still looks very much like an evolution of those popular current Audi designs, but there have been some important changes.

The grille is wider and lower than ever before, and it’s flanked by headlights that feature a new lighting graphic and Audi’s Matrix Beam LED tech. Fender flares inspired by the classic Ur-Quattro add a bit of muscle.

The Prologue is essentially an A8 coupe, large but still shorter than Audi’s flagship sedan. Extensive use of aluminum and high-strength steel in the chassis help keep weight down, although the car still weighs 4,365 pounds.

The interior is also meant to preview a new design direction for Audi.

It features a version of the “Virtual Cockpit” layout that debuted in the 2016 TT, with a display screen taking the place of both traditional gauges and the centrally-mounted infotainment screens of other cars.

For the front passenger, Audi turned the entire dashboard into a touchscreen. Among other things, that allows the passenger to program directions, then send them over to the driver’s screen with a swipe.

Other features include a center-console display made of thin, bendable OLED film that blends into the surface when not in use, and a software “butler” that identifies a driver by his or her smartphone, and pre-sets things like the seats and climate control to their preferences.

To haul around all of this tech, Audi equipped the Prologue with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that produces 605 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque (with overboost), channeled through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

This being an Audi, that power is sent to all four wheels. However, the Prologue also features four-wheel steering and a new five-link suspension setup with air ride for a cushier feel.

Audi says the Prologue will do 0 to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds. Not bad for such a big car.

There’s also a 48-volt subsystem that powers most of the in-car gadgetry, using energy recovered drink braking to take some stress off the engine.

The Prologue itself may not make it to production, but it’s been rumored that Audi is considering building an “A9” coupe to rival the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe.

Even if that doesn’t happen, expect the styling and some of the tech form this concept to migrate to production Audis in the near future.


Lyft and Aptiv’s self-driving car program has come a long way, but not far enough

Many companies talk about self-driving cars, but Lyft and Aptiv are already using a fleet of them to transport paying customers in Las Vegas. Hop in for a close look at the tech of autonomous cars, and the challenges they face.

Sibling rivalry: 2019 BMW Z4 takes on the 2020 Toyota Supra

BMW and Toyota forged an unlikely partnership when they set out to build a sports car platform together. Here, we examine the similarities and differences between the 2019 Z4 and the 2020 Supra.

Muscle cars, trucks, and EVs roared into the subdued 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the quietest edition of the event in recent memory, but that doesn't mean nothing significant happened inside the Cobo Center. Here are the new cars and concepts we saw at the show.

Nissan IMs concept teases a future long-range, autonomous electric car

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Nissan IMs is an electric car with a 380-mile range, autonomous-driving capability, and a backseat designed for being chauffeured. Too bad it's just a concept car.

Big tech, bigger grille: BMW updates its 7 Series flagship for 2020

The BMW 7 Series will enter the 2020 model year with a host of updates inside, outside, and under the sheet metal. The new-look nose with a jumbo grille hides updated engines, while passengers benefit from smart tech features.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.

In McLaren’s 600LT Spider, the engine is the only sound system you’ll need

The McLaren 600LT Spider is the inevitable convertible version of the 600LT coupe, itself a lighter, more powerful version of the McLaren 570S. The 600LT Spider boasts a 592-horsepower, twin-turbo V8, and a loud exhaust system to hear it…

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.

Ford has a plan to future-proof the hot-selling F-150 pickup truck

Worried about the threat of rising gas prices, Ford will add the F-150 to its growing portfolio of electrified vehicles. It is currently developing a hybrid F-150, and it will release an electric version of the next-generation truck.

Ford’s Mustang-inspired electric crossover will spawn a Lincoln luxury version

Lincoln will get its own version of parent Ford's first mass-market, long-range electric vehicle. While Ford's version will have styling inspired by the Mustang, Lincoln will take a more traditional approach.
Home Theater

Spotify adds simplified Car View mode for Android users

What was once just a test is now a reality: Spotify is rolling out a new, simplified in-car user interface for all Android users called Car View, which automatically engages when the app detects a car Bluetooth connection.

Boutique carmaker Karma Automotive, legendary design firm Pininfarina team up

Karma Automotive is partnering with legendary Italian design firm Pininfarina on future luxury cars. The first product of that partnership will appear later this year, Karma said, without offering other details.

Driving Daimler’s 40-ton eCascadia big rig isn’t just fun, it’s electrifying

Daimler Trucks brought its all-electric eCascadia semi-truck to the 2019 CES, and invited us to take the wheel. What does it feel like to drive one? Simply electrifying, of course.

Tesla cuts workforce by 7 percent, ends referral program to trim costs

Tesla has announced plans to trim its workforce by seven percent, and it will end the referral program that rewards customers who help it sell cars. These measures are ways to cut costs and boost profits.