Although Audi has been known for its sporty station wagons since the Porsche-tuned RS2 Avant made history with its introduction back in 1994, the Ingolstadt carmaker has never had a true halo model featuring this type of body. Sure, the RS6 Avant can be called that from some points of view, but the model has never been a true halo car in the style of the R8, for example. The carmaker was actually close to offering an Avant version of the A8 in the early 2000s, even previewing such a model with the 2001 Avantissimo concept car, but the plans never came to fruition.
This situation may change in the near future though, along with a massive upgrade of Audi’s dated design language. I say this because the German carmaker announced that a third version of its well-received Prologue Concept is to be unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, only this time the car comes with a twist. As its name implies, the Prologue Avant Concept features a station wagon body, and nothing but the front end is actually based on the original Prologue.
Updated 02/27/2015: Audi unveiled a first video for its new Prologue Avant Concept so you can enjoy it a little bit before its official debut in Geneva.
Continue reading to learn more about the Audi Prologue Avant Concept.
Updated 02/25/2015: Audi unveiled the first official details on the Prologue Avant car with just a few days before the concept’s official debut in the Geneva.
Likely penned following the ideas of Audi’s new head of design, Marc Lichte, the Prologue Avant looks like a more practical version of the original concept, and some reports are already suggesting that it may actually preview a future production model to battle with the Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake. The car features a striking shooting-brake profile that from some angles reminds me of the 2012 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Concept, which ironically came from the VW Group as well. The front end is quasi-identical to the first two Prologue concept cars, albeit some small details have been changed.
The grille’s six horizontal slots are made from brushed aluminum and are much thicker than before, while each seems to incorporate four distinct lines to likely symbolize the Quattro all-wheel-drive system. New daytime driving lights and some additional brushed aluminum accompany the lower side air inlets, giving the Prologue Avant "a new light signature."
The side profile is also clearly derived from its predecessors, but this time we are talking about two doors, three windows and four roof pillars on each side, like on just about every other station wagon out there. Keeping with its coupe lineage, the Prologue Avant features a small greenhouse-to-door-height ratio and frameless windows, while the low, sloping roofline gives it a sleek look.
Each wheel arch is widened in the style of the Audi Ur-quattro to emphasize the model’s all-wheel-drive ancestry. Speaking of which, the massive 22-inch wheels engulfed in 285/30 tires feature a five-spoke design derived from the one seen on current Audi RS models. At the rear, the window part of the hatch is severely sloped, almost like on the A7, and underneath we can check out the slim LED taillight strip that looks mighty similar to the ones from its two predecessors, while the bumper is once again flanked by two flat exhaust pipes.
5,110 MM (201.18 Inches)
3,040 MM (119.68 Inches)
1,970 MM (77.55 Inches)
1,400 MM (55.11 Inches)
The minimalist approach found in the first two concepts is featured by the Prologue Avant as well, with a multitude of touchscreens replacing most of the regular knobs and buttons. Despite the model essentially being a station wagon, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of room inside compared to a production Avant model, with Audi seeming to take the CLS Shooting Brake route of style over fuction. Unfortunately, the dull grey upholstery from the first Prologue Concept made a return in the Avant’s interior, only this time is even less cheerful because of its much darker shade.
Like on its two predecessors, the dashboard is designed as a display surface that integrates three touch displays, two of which are commanded by the driver and one by the front passenger. On top of that, the instrument cluster has yet another display, just like on the new TT or Q7, only this time it’s tri-dimensional, thanks to the integration of three mirrors. The rear passengers can use a flexible OLED (Organic Light emitting Diodes) display that can adapt its angle to the rear seat backrests’ angle of inclination thanks to its bendable structure.
Contrary to what I first though, the Avant concept is powered by neither the twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter, V-8 from the original Prologue, nor the hybrid version that was featured by the Prologue Piloted Driving Concept. Audi chose instead to use a version of the same plug-in hybrid system found in the new Audi Q7 E-Tron Quattro, only this time it develops quite a bit more oomph. For starters, the 3.0 TDI engine now has an output of 349 horsepower, while the electric motor integrated into the eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF brings another 134 horsepower into the equation. The entire system’s output
is 449 horsepower and 553.2 pound-feet of torque.
Those numbers translate into a 0-62 mph acceleration of 5.1 seconds and an electronically controlled 155 mph top speed. Thanks to a 14.1 kWh lithium-ion batter,
the Prologue Avant has a pure electric range of 33.6 miles, while the according to the NEDC standard for plug-in hybrid vehicles, it delivers 147 mpg. The battery pack can be charged either by a normal outlet or inductively.
Apart from AWD, the model also features all-wheel steering, with the rear wheels turning up to five degrees in either the opposite or same direction as the front ones, depending on speed. while the battery pack can be charged either by a normal outlet or inductively.
3.0 TDI engine combined with electric motor
0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph)
250 KM/H (155.3 MPH)
147.0 US MPG
54 KM (33.6 Miles) in pure electric drive mode
Naturally, since this is a concept car, we cannot talk about actual pricing, but a production version would likely feature a sticker price a little above $100,000 when fitted with a V-8 engine. An RS version would probably go even higher than that.
Launched in 2012 as a way to capitalize on the regular CLS model’s success, the CLS Shooting Brake has now created a name for itself, and has even spawned the introduction of a smaller brother, the CLA Shooting Brake. Some see it as a glorified station wagon and not a true shooting brake, but the truth is that no other wagon out there looks this elegant. The niche model went through a mid-cycle facelift in 2014, which brought with it an optional set of even more high-tech, LED-infused headlights that it originally had.
Its engines range from a measly, 2.1-liter, four-cylinder diesel to a twin-turbocharged, 5.5-liter, V-8 with 585 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque in the 63 AMG S model, which also comes with 4Matic all-wheel-drive. While a possible production version of the Prologue Avant would essentially make it an A8 wagon, so a segment above the E-Class-based CLS Shooting Brake, the Mercedes-Benz model is still its closest and so far only rival.
Even though the first two Prologue concepts were pretty well received, there is a high chance that the upcoming Prologue Avant will be the most polarizing one, especially since in certain markets – I’m looking at you, U.S.! — station wagons are a dying breed. Even so, the likelihood of the model reaching production sometime in the nearby future isn’t small, especially since Audi will need to cover a lot of niches in order to pass BMW as the world’s largest premium carmaker. Whether it does or not remains to be seen, but keep in mind that a lot of design motifs found on the concept are given to be found on the next A6, A7 and A8 models.
Beautiful exterior lines
May turn into a production model
Previews Audi’s new design language
Not as practical as a true station wagon
Production version likely very expensive
It’s hard to take on the CLS Shooting Brake in terms of beauty
A design with dynamic elegance and the latest high end technologies: The Audi prologue Avant show car with its stretched roof which the brand is presenting at the Geneva Motor Show gives a look into the future – with the new and emotion filled design language that Audi has initiated with its study in the coupé, the prologue.
A glance into the future
In November 2014 at the Los Angeles Motorshow, Audi presented the Audi prologue concept car, giving a look to the brand’s future design language. Only four months later, the premium manufacturer is showing a variant of its visionary concept at the Geneva Motor Show. The Audi prologue Avant combines dynamics, form and function in a perfect synthesis. With a length of 5.11 meters (16.8 ft) and a width of 1.97 meters (6.5 ft), the five-door car with its pioneering body concept positions itself clearly in the luxury class. At the same time, it offers unmistakeable sportiness and variability. Technology is becoming an experience, both outside and inside: The driver and up to three passengers can enjoy a luxurious interior and are digitally connected thanks to a state‑of‑the‑art infotainment architecture and connect technology.
Architecture and operation are united
The luxurious interior is kept in dark shades. Here as well, the show car offers a new experience: The straight‑lined architecture forms one whole with its display and control concept. The consistent front of the dashboard is composed of three touch displays. Moreover, the driver and up to three passengers can establish a digital communication via two OLED‑displays made from organic LEDs. The extremely slim, detachable OLED displays in the rear – a spin-off of the Audi tablet from the new Audi Q7* – provide passengers with on-demand information and entertainment.
Technology close to series production
The Audi prologue Avant uses technology which is close to series production. It is equipped with the plug‑in hybrid drive from the Audi Q7 e‑tron quattro which achieves even higher performance in the show car. 335 kW (455 hp) of system power output by the 3.0 TDI engine and the electric motor in combination make the car sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 5.1 seconds. The purely electric range is 54 kilometers (33.6 mi). The chassis is equipped with adaptive air suspension and the dynamic all‑wheel‑drive steering system – thus combining comfort, sportiness, handling and stability on a new performance level.
A glance into the future: the Audi prologue Avant
Progressive elegance, high variability and high-end technology with a length of 5.11 meters (16.8 ft): The large five-door car with its stretched roof continues with the design language that Audi has initiated with its coupé study, the prologue, giving a look into the future.
“With our show car for Geneva, we now translate the design language of the Audi prologue into a new, dynamic and stretched form. We are merging it with a concept of high variability”, says Board Member for Technical Development, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg. “The Audi prologue Avant is progressive, emotion-filled and versatile, it reflects Audi’s technological competence and quality claim perfectly.”
The brand with the four rings stands for sportiness, lightweight construction and the permanent all-wheel-drive quattro. The Audi prologue Avant brings progressive technology into a new form. The large five-door car with its stretched roof and extremely flat D-pillars combines power and flowing elegance. Its design reflects the Audi quattro genes.
In the interior, as well, the show car captivates the driver with innovative solutions – the architecture forms a new whole with its display and control concept. The driver and the passengers are digitally connected with one another. The continuous front of the dashboard consists of three touch displays, a major part of control and communication between the driver and the co-driver as well as passengers in the rear is realized by two OLED‑displays (Organic Light Emitting Diodes).
The Audi prologue Avant uses the plug-in hybrid drive of the Audi Q7 e-tron quattro at a higher development level. The 3.0 TDI engine and the electric motor together output 335 kW (455 hp) of system performance and 750 Nm (553.2 lb-ft) of system torque. With this performance, the show car accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 5.1 seconds. The dynamic all-wheel-drive steering system with which the rear wheels can be inclined by up to five degrees provides good handling and high drive stability.
Audi prologue Avant: the concept
“With the Audi prologue, the prototype meter of our new design language, we have clearly pointed the way in esthetics. Now we are going one step further by presenting a concept which combines esthetics, dynamics and function in a fascinating way” – this is how Marc Lichte describes the character of the Audi prologue Avant. “The progressive body design expresses our technological competence and reveals the values which render our brand unique: sportiness, high-quality, progressiveness.”
At a glance, the new show car can be recognized to be an Audi – with its athletic build, taut surfaces and sharp edges. The Audi prologue Avant picks up on the tradition of the extraordinary design and space concepts, for example, of the proto Avant from 1982, and re-interprets this design. With a length of 5.11 meters (16.8 ft), a wheelbase of 3.04 meters (10.0 ft), a width of 1.97 meters (6.5 ft) and a height of 1.4 meters (4.6 ft), the Audi prologue Avant is a little larger than the two-door coupé Audi prologue. Four individual seats, four doors and a large tailgate round off the concept.
Wide and flat: the front
The Singleframe grille organically integrated into the car body dominates the show car’s low front. It is positioned lower and is designed much wider than in current production models. Its cross ribs made from brushed aluminum present a new variant of the e-tron look, providing a closed visual appearance. Towards the sides, they are slightly bent and forked.
The headlamps underline the character of the show car – light-weight, dynamic and elegant. Shaped like wide, flat wedges, the headlamps are located with their tips above the Singleframe. They present the high-resolution Matrix Laser technology – the latest light innovation by Audi opens up new opportunities in design and technology. The light is decomposed into a high number of tiny pixels, resulting in virtually unlimited distribution possibilities.
The upper and side edges of the characteristic air inlets are accentuated using additional light guides which in combination with daytime driving light give the Audi prologue Avant a new light signature.
Strong flow: the side view
A long front-section and a roof dome falling down early and continuing towards the rear above extremely flat D-pillars – the side view of the show car conveys an athletic effect. Its proportions are balanced off, emphasizing the front and the rear wheel alike – and give an indication of the Audi quattro genes.
The wide, folded-out shoulders above the four wheels are inspired by the “blisters” of the Audi proto quattro dating back to the eighties. However, they were not just added on top with separate contours but have been smoothly integrated into the architecture. The shoulders swing smoothly over the wheels. The front shoulder carries on the edge of the engine hood, thus making it appear even longer. The long rear door emphasizes the luxury class character of the show car.
The wheel houses are strongly vaulting out and carry wide wheel mirrors, thus visually reducing the metal volume of the flanks. They surround the mighty 22-inch wheels carrying size 285/30 tires. Their five arms with the edged, sharp-angled spokes present a further development of today’s rotor design.
In each and every detail, the 5.11 meter (16.8 ft) long Audi prologue Avant embodies the progressive beauty of Audi technology. The dark blue paintcoat in fusion blue underlines the elegance of the show car in a subtle way. The outside rear-view mirrors are small sculptures made from aluminum, the window channel strips unostentatiously integrate the sensor surfaces towards the door opening. As soon as the driver touches the illuminated surfaces, electric motors will open the handle-less doors.
A frame made from polished and matt aluminum surrounds the side windows. The rear fenders of the show car accommodate the charge socket for electric charging on the left side, the fuel filler flap for diesel fuel on the right side. By the press of a button in the interior, the cover flaps will open electrically, retracting into the body.
Dynamic: the rear
The flowing rear moving in strongly on the side is one of the most attractive views of the show car. The flatly arranged D-pillars sweep elegantly into the rear body shoulder which forms the edge of the luggage compartment lid and surrounds the entire rear section. The rear section itself is leaning forward in the direction of travel like a yacht – pushing off the car before it even starts moving.
The rear lamp strip runs across the full width of the car, thus combining the LED rear lamps. They consist of 3D glass which has a sculptural effect. At their bottom end, the rear light draws a wavy contour. Deep inside the lamps lies the brake light – when it becomes active, it appears to approach the viewer. The different design levels and the change between two-dimensional and three-dimensional effects give the rear lamps an entirely new dynamic.
As a logical continuation of the side sills, a sporty apron completes the rear section towards the bottom. On either side it integrates flat horizontally split openings with a wedge-shaped cut. The exhaust gas of the TDI engine comes out through the upper ones, the bottom ones with their struts are evocative of the Singleframe grille – this solution symbolizes the e-tron concept of the show car: combustion engine and electric motor in one car.
Elegant experience: the interior
The spacious interior of the Audi prologue Avant has the character of a luxurious lounge. Sinewy taut, calmly flowing lines and slender geometric bodies convey a feeling of expanse, lightness and tranquility. The long center console with its pass-through also appears to hover, as do the slender front seats, whose rails are mounted on the tunnel and side sills.
The instrument panel stretches horizontally from one side to the other, thus creating a wide impression in the interior. It lowers itself towards the driver and the co-driver on two levels. The upper level, like a roof, lies over the Audi virtual cockpit future and the wide air vents. It forms part of the wrap‑around encompassing the interior and luggage compartment like a horizon.
Both rear passengers can enjoy individual seats with a spacious ambience.
All of the interior details demonstrate Audi’s high-quality design and uncompromising claim. A perforated trim panel covers the air vent; it moves down as soon as the air conditioning is set higher. The newly designed flat shift‑by‑wire selector lever for the eight-speed tiptronic is smoothly integrated in the center console.
Three-part display: the instrument panel
The elegant design architecture of the Audi prologue Avant show car blends in with a game-changing, new display and control concept enabling digital interaction between the driver and his passengers. Across its full width, the front of the dashboard is designed as a display surface which integrates three touch displays. Massive aluminum frames surround the two driver-faced displays left and right of the steering wheel. The left one serves to control the assist functions, the right one is for multimedia management.
The front passenger faces a widescreen display that is integrated into the full surface of the instrument panel; it is used to configure entertainment features individually and conveniently. With a wiping movement, the front passenger can send media content such as music playlists to the right driver display or navigation data to the Audi virtual cockpit behind the steering wheel.
On the console of the center tunnel, there is another display for text entry, air conditioning and infotainment designed for the driver. It consists primarily of an extremely thin, bendable OLED film (OLED: organic light emitting diodes), and it displays extremely sharp images that are rich in contrast. When inactive, the OLED display is in a flat retracted position; as soon as the vehicle is started, it moves up at an angle. The curved display ensures a constant ergonomic distance to the driver’s hand, his wrist calmly resting on the eight‑speed tiptronic selector lever.
Within the driver’s field of view lies the Audi virtual cockpit future. High-resolution displays and three mirrors generate a virtual visual stage with three levels. In the navigation view, for instance, the first level presents information that is important for driving; levels two and three generate the depth effect in the cockpit. Thanks to this staggered approach, information is structured better and is easier to grasp. According to driving style, content and colors will change in the Audi virtual cockpit future – when driving tempers unleash, for instance, the display changes to sport mode.
Comfort and entertainment in the rear provided by OLED technology
The rear passengers in the Audi prologue Avant use a flexible OLED display integrated in the center console which due to its bendable structure adapts its angle to the rear seat backrests’ angle of inclination. Using this display, settings such as seat adjustment, climate control, audio/video and ambient values can be controlled in the back of the car. Moreover, passengers can exchange data with the driver. When inactive, the OLED display lies flat in the center console. As soon as rear passengers get into the car, it moves up at an angle. As with the OLED display in the front of the car, the curved display in the rear also ensures a constant and ergonomically ideal distance to the passenger’s hand.
When the audio system is active, a sound spoiler moves out of the rear wheelhouse panelings, homogenously distributing music in the interior in high-end quality.
Another infotainment feature are the two Audi tablets – a further development of the Audi tablet in the new Audi Q7. These are mounted to the backrests of the front seats – also with OLED technology, and highly slender and slightly curved. The tablets can be unclipped and then be operated outside of the car.
From the moment of getting into the Audi prologue Avant, the driver and the passengers can experience first-class comfort. The “butler” – an innovative, intelligent software program – identifies them based on their smartphones and adjusts the seats and climate control system according to their preferences. The system also makes suggestions for music and route planning based on the owner’s preferences. Cell phones can be placed in the two Easy Slot systems integrated in the center tunnel console. There they are linked up with the vehicle infotainment system and inductively charged.
Authentic: materials and colors
Colors and materials in the Audi prologue Avant emphasize the impression of comfort and sporty elegance. The upper instrument panel is colored in lifestyle blue, the bottom instrument panel, the seats and the carpet are designed in elegant sarder brown color.
In the interior, aluminum trim elements add powerful visual highlights. The spokes of the steering wheel, the frames of the driver displays, the door inserts and the mountings and switches of the seats are made from that material. On the wrap-around, the doors and the center tunnel console, they create a contrast with the panels out of open-pore, dark ash wood veneer.
Various surfaces such as the seats, dashboard and center tunnel console are upholstered with the very natural Unikat leather. A generously dimensioned strip of Alcantara leather leads the eyes from the door inserts over the armrests back and into the luggage compartment. Artfully designed perforations in the seat center line are evocative of the Singleframe grille bars.
Very close to series production: the technology
The plug-in hybrid drive of the Audi prologue Avant is almost identical to the powertrain in the Audi Q7 e-tron quattro which will be launched in summer 2015. The 3.0 TDI engine installed in the Audi prologue Avant outputs a maximum of 260 kW (353 hp), a powerful electric motor integrated in the eight-speed tiptronic contributes up to 100 kW. System output is 335 kW (455 hp), while system torque is 750 Nm (553.2 lb-ft). The eight‑speed tiptronic directs engine power to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive ensuring superior drive characteristics in any situation.
The show car accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 5.1 seconds. Its top speed is limited to 250 km/h (155.3 mph). The Audi prologue Avant consumes an average of only 1.6 liters per 100 kilometers (147.0 US mpg) according to the NEDC standard for plug-in hybrid vehicles – corresponding to 43 grams of carbon emissions per kilometer. The lithium-ion battery pack in the rear storing 14.1 kWh of energy gives the car a range of 54 kilometers (33.6 mi) in pure electric drive mode.
With its AWC (Audi wireless charging) technology which Audi is developing for series production, the battery can also be charged inductively. AWC technology provides energy from a floor plate which is connected to the power grid and which can be embedded on or into the asphalt. This plate integrates a primary coil and an inverter (AC/AC converter). When active, this coil induces a magnetic field of alternating current. On the basis of state-of-the-art technology, Audi uses 3.6 kW of power as provided by a wall socket with a maximum of 16 amps of charging current.
Comfort and sport combined: the chassis
The chassis of the Audi prologue Avant is also packed with high-end series production technology. The adaptive air suspension sport – an air suspension system with controlled damping – offers a wide spread between smooth power transmission and tight handling. Front and rear axles are lightweight five‑arm wishbone constructions. The 20-inch brake disks are made from carbon fiber ceramics.
The dynamic all-wheel-drive steering system resolves the classic conflict between dynamic handling and stability. The system combines a dynamic transmission steering system on the front axle with an additional steering system for the rear wheels where an electric motor actuates two tie rods.
When the driver steers at low to moderate speeds, the rear wheels turn up to five degrees in the opposite direction of the front wheels. This gives the responsiveness of the car a further boost and reduces its turning circle. At higher speeds, the Audi prologue Avant handles swerving very calmly and with superior reliability: in such a manoeuvre, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels.