Audi has a reputation for pulling out all the stops to create a proper show car for each major automotive show and the Prologue Concept, which is the star of the company's stand at this year's LA Auto Show, is no exception.
The Prologue is an imposing yet strangely charming four-seat luxury coupé. It is shorter and has a lower, more sloping roof than any of Audi's existing luxury offerings and its redesigned front grille, despite being bigger, actually looks a lot less ostentatious than those on the current Audi range.
Under the hood it has a clever 4-liter twin-turbo V8 that can shut down four cylinders to conserve fuel when the car is under no pressure to perform.
But when requested, the engine can generate 597bhp, enough to catapult the car from a standstill to 100km/h (62mph) in under four seconds, according to Audi's computer modeling.
The car has Quattro all-wheel drive but for the first time this is combined with all-wheel steering. A feature recently resurrected by Porsche for its 911 Turbo, it will keep the back end in check at high speeds and will make the car much easier to maneuver in confined spaces -- think supermarket parking lots, narrow streets, etc.
Inside, the cabin is a minimalist's idea of nirvana. There are practically no knobs or switches; instead the entire dashboard fascia is a big touch screen, responding to swipes and gestures.
Audi has recently hired a new head of design, Marc Lichte, and the Prologue is a visual, visceral statement of his intent for the brand and its future models. The Prologue concept is expected to morph into a new range-topping luxury GT coupé, the A9 which will compete head-to-head with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupé, but will also serve as inspiration for the next generation A8 luxury sedan as well as the smaller A4 and A6 models.