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Geneva Motor Show

Prologue Avant previews Audi design future

Published: 04 Mar 2015

"Avants are a fixture in our line-up," said Audi R&D chief Ulrich Hackenberg at the Geneva Show as he gave an unveil to this gorgeous concept, the Prologue Avant. Unfortunately, this particular one isn't.

If you were hoping for an A8-sized super-lux estate car, and frankly we were, then that's a disappointment. This car measuring in at a super-chunky 5.1m long, and 1.97m wide. That's vast for a five-door car with space only for four. Well, it is a concept.

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But this concept does have a job to do. Like the Prologue coupe concept from four months ago […], it's about demonstrating how Audi's design will change. Given that the past couple of generations of A4, A6 and A8 were in a bit of time-warp, that's a big story.

In mid-2013 Hackenberg was made boss of Audi R&D, and he brought in a new design team led by Marc Lichte. The plan has been to shake up Audi design. "Lichte is young and creative but experienced," says Hackenberg. The Prologue won't turn directly into a production car. "We are generating new sentences in a design language for many vehicles."

Lichte's new generation of cars doesn't start launching until next year. This year's Q7, R8, A4 and A4 Avant were done by the former regime. So to give us a look at the themes he's developing, Lichte has done the Prologue and Prologue Avant.

Lichte says the Avant is "how a future functional car can be. It has a horizontal roof for interior volume and headroom, but a fast D-post for sportiness - like the 1982 Audi 100 Avant. You will see that in a very concrete way in our future." He means on the next A6 Avant, because the next A6, A7 and A8 are his first big projects at Audi.

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The Prologue's face is dominated by the grille and LED headlamps. More subtly, he points to the sides of the car, where the evenly blistered wheel arches emphasise drive to all four wheels. "Our rivals emphasise the rear because they're rear wheel drive."

Inside the display and touch screens are integrated into the dash framelessly and, when they're off, almost invisibly. Again he says that look will become reality.

Drive comes from a plug-in hybrid just like what's in the just-announced production Q7 e-tron. That pairs a V6 diesel engine with an electric motor, both of them channeled through an eight-speed auto to all four wheels. In total that's 455bhp.

To keep it feeling tight on the road, there's four-wheel steering, as per Porsche's fastest sports cars. Again, expect that to arrive in production Audis soon.

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