Audi Prologue concept first drive review

We take a drive in Audi's jaw-dropping Prologue concept car fresh from the LA Motor Show stand

It's only a concept car but the Audi Prologue concept serves as a fascinating insight into where Audi as a brand is headed. The advanced technology and innovative design speak of a car manufacturer bristling with confidence, while the V8 engine adds old-school muscle to keep the traditionalists happy.

The Audi Prologue concept may be a priceless piece of motor show metal, but it’s far from just a pretty face. Audi didn’t fit it with a 598bhp 4.0 Biturbo V8 for no reason, and Auto Express has driven it.

Hot off the LA Motor Show stand, the striking newcomer is only a few millimetres shorter than a Mercedes S-Class saloon, but that slippery and sculpted design helps to mask this size well. Huge touch-sensitive doors swing open and allow access to one of the most technologically advanced car cabins ever created.

You sit low, peering over the cascading bonnet. The Virtual Cockpit in the all-new TT is still a revolutionary piece of tech, but Audi has taken it to the next level with the Prologue. The 3D display has real visual depth with colours and content that change depending upon driving style.

The V8 thunders into life at the touch of a button. A new exhaust system delivers a deep burble at idle and a progressively more raucous exhaust note as the revs build.

It’s an addictive soundtrack but engineers tell us it’s just a little too loud for any production car. Based around part of the new architecture which will underpin the next-generation Audi A8 due in 2016, the Prologue feels refined and more like a production model than it’s space age looks suggest.

Even with huge 22-inch alloy wheels it didn’t make a fuss over broken tarmac. Although the throttle delivers a thunderous soundtrack, there is a throttle mapping issue which makes accessing power form the 4.0-litre V8 difficult to modulate. But let’s not forget the Prologue is still a concept and far from the finished article. 

You can just about feel the rear-wheel steering come into play, gently helping the nose tuck into bends. But our test route around Beverly Hills provided little in the way dynamically challenging tarmac. Yet, all of the visual and mechanical features will in some form or another filter down into future production Audi models. The Audi A8 will be the first, with the A6 and A7 to follow suit. A flagship A9 coupe is in the works and this is only our first taste of what’s to come.

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