Audi granted a view of its future Tuesday night, high in the Hollywood Hills at a lavish debut for its all-new Prologue concept car. The sleek coupe is a look at the new design direction for all upcoming cars from the German brand.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is the new face of Audi," Marc Lichte, Audi's design chief, said as the car was unveiled at a private home perched over the twinkling cityscape. "The foundation for this new design was a very simple and coherant design strategy: an Audi has to be sporty, an Audi has to be progressive and also sophisticated," Lichte said.
Though shown in coupe form, this new design language will first be used on the next Audi A8 full-size sedan, then the A6 and A7 siblings. Audi was mum on when the new generation of A8 would arrive, but it's widely expected to go on sale in 2017.
While some concept cars are extreme exaggerations of what eventually goes into production, Lichte was adamant that nearly everything on the Prologue concept was feasible and headed to the market.
"This car is the essence of all three cars," Lichte said. "That means all the elements you see in this show car will go into production."
Shortly after that new A8 hits the market, Audi is expected to put on sale an A9 coupe -- a model it has never built before -- that would rival the Mercedes S-Class Coupe. This Prologue concept is close to what that car would look like.
Lichte's goal with the Audi's new aesthetic was to create a compelling look that would age well, while at the same time honor previous generations of Audis.
"The car has to be timeless but also fashionable," Lichte said. "The car should work for six, seven, eight years. In that time, there are eight generations of iPhones."
This has meant a busy year for Lichte. Volkswagen Group appointed Lichte as Audi's head of design last December and work on the concept and the A6, A7, and A8 started in February.
Audi froze the production models' design recently, an eight-month turnaround that's a rarity in the automotive industry. The designs now are turned over to to the engineers and accountants to make sure the aesthetic is financially and logistically possible.
The Prologue concept's debut in L.A. was no coincidence, as Lichte had his eye on a debut at the L.A. Auto Show since he put pen to paper in February.
"I think this kind of car fits perfect in L.A.," the designer said looking at the twinkling lights of L.A. below the home where Audi debuted the Prologue. "It's a very expressive car; I think it fits. And I like this place, this is an area which inspires."