Audi has unveiled the first member of a new family of concept vehicles, a spectacular roadster. Audi Skysphere concept is the name of the electric-powered, two-door convertible whose lines lead directly to the Audi design of tomorrow. With it, the brand is illustrating its vision for the progressive luxury segment of the future, in which the interior becomes an interactive space and the vehicle, a platform for captivating experiences. This is being made possible thanks to autonomous driving, a revolutionary redesign of the interior, and a seamless digital ecosystem.
The Audi Skysphere concept shows how the brand is redefining luxury in the future – it’s no longer just about driving. The concept car was designed with the clear objective of offering its occupants captivating and world-class experiences.
To give passengers the maximum amount of freedom, the Audi Skysphere is a combination of the 2 best things: a grand touring experience and a sporty experience. This makes use of a spectacular technical detail – the variable wheelbase. Electric motors and a sophisticated mechanism with body and frame components that slide into one another make it possible to vary the wheelbase itself and the exterior length of the car by 250 mm. At the same time, the vehicle’s ground clearance is adjusted by 10 mm to enhance comfort and driving dynamics.
With the touch of a button, the driver can take advantage of their freedom and choose their own driving experience– either they pilot their 4.94-meter-long e-roadster themselves in “Sports” mode with a reduced wheelbase, while the rear-wheel steering ensures that the vehicle remains extremely agile despite its dimensions. Or they can choose to be chauffeured around in a 5.19-meter GT in the autonomous “Grand Touring” driving mode while enjoying the sky and the scenery, maximum legroom, and the services offered by a seamlessly integrated digital ecosystem.
The whole design shouts futuristic, it looks as if the car is from a Star Wars movie. Firstly, the front end, although no longer serving as a radiator grill – clearly features the brand’s typical Single frame and the three-dimensionally designed, illuminated emblem with the four rings. The entire Single frame and also the adjacent surfaces on the sides are designed with white LED elements to act as a stage for visual effects – both functional effects as well as moving welcome sequences when the vehicle is opened and closed. Gentle dimming light produces an elegant effect. The daytime running lights in the side front sections, in turn, give the lighting units a resolute, focused “gaze.” If the wheelbase is changed, the LEDs in the front and rear display a specially composed dynamic sequence.
Now coming to the rear end, it is also dominated by a digitally controlled LED surface that extends across the entire width of the vehicle. Countless red LEDs are scattered like rubies across the vertical rear surface. Reflections create dynamic lighting and shadow effects when the lighting units are switched on and off.
Upon changing the wheelbase and thus the operating mode from GT to Sport, the light signature also changes and sends a clear indication of the changed character of the Audi Skysphere concept, particularly in the area around the Single frame.
The interior is not lacking either compared to the exterior, the interior design is top-notch. The car can be used in driver-operated mode, then the interior transforms into an ergonomically perfect driving machine cockpit. Together with the chassis and body, the instrument panel and the monitor panel on the centre console also move to the rear. The driver finds all the controls, including the steering wheel and pedals, in the position that best suits them. Additionally, there are large touch monitor surfaces – 1415 mm wide, 180 mm high – on the dashboard and in the upper area of the centre console are used to operate the vehicle and infotainment systems. In Grand Touring mode, this can be used to display content from the Internet, video conferences, or streamed movies. Small touch panels in the doors are used to operate the air conditioning.
A high-quality sound system – befitting this luxury convertible – delivers concert hall audio quality even when the vehicle is in motion. The speakers are hidden behind the door panels; a few more in the rear interior wall even produce surround sound. The shape of the headrests prevents turbulence and also annoying wind noise
Now coming to the heart of the matter, the electric motor. Gael Buzyn, design project manager said “New technologies like electrification, digitalization, and autonomous driving allowed us to create an experience that goes way beyond the one that typical roadsters offer today,”
An electric motor positioned on the powered rear axle is responsible for delivering power to the wheels of the Audi Skysphere. A total of 465 kilowatts of power and 750 Nm of torque have an easy time with the roadster, which only weighs around 1,800 kgs. The weight distribution of around 60 percent on the powered rear axle results in ample traction and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just four seconds, if required.
The Audi Skysphere’s battery modules are primarily positioned behind the cabin – an ideal configuration for the vehicle’s centre of gravity and agility. Further modules can be found between the seats in the centre tunnel of the Skysphere interior – another position chosen in favour of vehicle dynamics. The battery’s capacity is expected to be more than 80 kWh, giving the car a range of more than 500 km according to the WLTP standard, at least in the economical GT mode.
Audi Skysphere, Audi Grandsphere, and, coming in 2022, Audi Urbansphere are the three concept cars that the brand with the four rings is using to showcase its vision of progressive luxury. In the process, Audi is creating a vehicle experience that goes far beyond the purpose of merely spending time in a car to get from point A to point B, and even far beyond the driving experience itself.