One of these days, surely Audi is going to release an all-out off-road super sports car. Until then, we'll just have to settle for sporty, overpowered crossover concepts. Following up on last year's TT offroad and 2013's Nanuk Quattro, Audi is premiering the new Prologue allroad at this year's Auto Shanghai show. The concept picks up where last month's Prologue Avant left off, throwing an alarmingly powerful but efficient 734-hp hybrid powertrain into the mix.
The allroad is the third member of the Prologue concept family, following the original Prologue from last year's LA Auto Show and the Prologue Avant from last month's Geneva Motor Show. As an AWD crossover, the allroad looks very similar to the Prologue Avant estate. In fact, after a quick first glance, we assumed Audi just raised the Avant up a few inches, added a new set of 22-in wheels and called it a new show car for Shanghai.
A closer comparison reveals a few distinctions between the allroad and Avant, including the allroad's flared wheel arches, redesigned lower front lights, and integrated, unified tailpipe design. The new car measures 2 cm (0.8 in) longer than the Avant at 5.13 m (16.83 ft) and sits 7.7 cm (3 in) higher.
One place where the allroad really distinguishes is itself is with its power plant. At 605 hp (451 kW) and 455 hp (339 kW), respectively, the Prologue and Prologue Avant were no slouches, but the Prologue allroad takes power to new heights. Its twin-turbo 4.0-liter TFSI V8 teams up with an electric motor integrated into the eight-speed Tiptronic transmission for a total of 734 hp (547 kW) and 664 lb-ft (900 Nm) of torque. All that torque makes the allroad the quickest of the Prologue concepts, slingshotting to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.5 seconds. The quattro all-wheel-drive system ensures all the output goes to efficient use, both on the street and in "light terrain."
Packing the power and speed of a supercar into a large, capable body is a coup in itself, but Audi also adds an impressive helping of efficiency. The electric motor can drive the car on its own for up to 33.6 miles (54 km). Power comes from a rear-mounted 14.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that is charged via the wireless charging system Audi is developing for series production. Audi estimates fuel consumption at 98 mpg US (2.4 L/100 km) and CO2 emissions at 90g/mi (56 g/km), which look awfully beautiful lined up next to those power, torque and acceleration figures.
And the engineering highlights don't stop at the powertrain. The allroad maneuvers under guidance from a dynamic all-wheel steering system built to "harmoniously resolve the conflict between dynamic driving and stability." The adaptive air suspension system is equally versatile, offering fine-tuning between cushy cruising and sharp handling. Stopping is handled by 20-in carbon-ceramic disc brakes.
As was true with its predecessors, the highlight of the allroad's interior is the cabin-wide digital display system. The system puts Audi's triple-layer virtual cockpit directly in front of the driver and flanks the steering wheel with left and right infotainment touchscreens. The passenger enjoys a separate dedicated infotainment touchscreen that allows them to change infotainment settings and then swipe the information over to the driver. The familiar retractable Prologue OLED console touchscreen is also present, housing climate settings, infotainment controls and text input.
Just so there's no added penalties for losing the "shotgun" battle, the Prologue allroad also includes OLED display technology for the rear passengers. The centrally mounted OLED touchscreen controls rear-area climate and infotainment, seat adjustment and data exchange with the driver. Rear passengers keep entertained with dual tablets that mount to the front headrests, and the rear sound spoiler is designed to ensure that audio sounds crisp and clear in back, as well as up front.
As Audi has detailed in the past, the Prologue "butler" software recognizes each passenger by way of their smartphone and adjusts seat and climate controls to their individual preferences as well as making music and route suggestions. Occupants can dock their phones in the center console "Easy Slot," connecting them with the onboard infotainment system and inductively charging them.
As the most outlandish of the three Prologue concept cars, we doubt the Prologue aqllroad will ever be anything more than a cool concept car from the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show. However, Prologue design elements are clearly destined to infiltrate Audi's production lineup.
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