When Audi announces a new car these days, they’re killing it. Just recently they announced a new member, the first of a family of concept vehicles, the smashingly good-looking Audi skysphere. The two-door convertible that looks like a front-runner for a batmobile will lead pave the way forward for design. This is hitting home with Audi’s future of luxury segment in the electric vehicle race, where not only is it an external new look, but also how the interior is to be more interactive – autonomous and a seamless digital ecosystem. The next two vehicles to launch will be the Audi grandsphere, and Audi urbansphere – where guessing a grand sedan and SUV.
Most OEM’s like Audi are looking to the future of autonomous driving, meaning we drive less and less. So, it isn’t so much about the driving experience, it goes beyond that to ensure you have an enjoyable, connected and memorable ride.
To give passengers the maximum amount of freedom, the Audi skysphere concept was designed for two different driving experiences: At the push of a button the car becomes all yours where you can drive in ‘Sports’ mode, you navigate this almost 5 meter long e-roadster, while the rear-wheel steering makes sure you stay planted on the road – that’s right folks, rear wheel steering. Can’t be bothered lifting your hands up to navigate the yacht like roadster? Then, click on ‘Grand Touring’, kick back and enjoy the view and scenery while the car itself takes care of the rest.
You get a lot more legroom since in ‘GT’ mode, the steering wheel and pedals move into an invisible area. Meanwhile, the Audi skysphere automatically keeps an eye on the road and traffic with its sensor system and drives the you safely to your destination.
With connectivity being a key element, you and your passengers can share their experience on the road with friends via social media, with images of the interior and the surrounding area. The vehicle also takes care of everyday tasks that go beyond the ride itself. For example, the autonomous Audi skysphere concept gets your info about your current destination and independently handles parking and charging.
An electric motor positioned on the powered rear axle gives you a whopping 623 HP and 465 kilowatts of power and 750 Nm of torque to propel the 1800 kg rocket from 0 to 100 km/h in just four seconds, if required.
The battery’s capacity is expected to be more than 80 kWh, giving the car a range of more than 500 kilometers according to the WLTP standard, at least in the economical GT mode.
Steering takes place via a steer-by-wire system that controls both the front and the rear wheels. Because the system is not mechanically connected to the front axle, the driver can select different steering ratios and steering settings – all at the touch of a button. This allows the steering to be adjusted from extremely direct to comfortable, but also from high self-aligning forces to minimal self-aligning forces, for example when parking. The rear-axle steering and adaptive wheelbase also contribute to the car’s small turning radius.
This car is retro without the retro. If you’ve ever watched those old school mafia movies, you’ll see the gangster driving a convertible that looks super long. Well, the Audi skyphere gives a nod to those old school cars, namely the Horch 853. The Audi skyphere is super long for a convertible, it is 5.23 meters of sexy lines and curves and when it ‘Sport’ mode it is a low ride of 1.77 meters high.
The front end – although no longer serving as a radiator grill – clearly features the brand’s typical Singleframe and the three-dimensionally designed, illuminated emblem with the four rings. The entire Singleframe and also the adjacent surfaces on the sides are designed with white LED elements to literally act as a stage for visual effects – both functional effects as well as moving welcome sequences when the vehicle is opened and closed.
The rear end 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 Singleframe.
A characteristic feature of the side view are the rocker panels, which seem to protrude into the rear wheel arch – a necessary feature when varying the wheelbase actually pushes it backwards. The rocker panel is attached to the front end of the car, and as it moves, the panel also slides to the rear under the fixed door. In the process, the wheelbase is reduced from the standard size of an A8 L to the significantly more compact size of the curve-compatible Audi RS 5 – 25 centimeters make all the difference. And not just technically, but also visually and, above all, in terms of the driving experience.
The Audi skysphere is definitely Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde when it comes to the GT and Sport driving modes.
On the inside, large touch monitor surfaces – 1415 mm wide, 180 mm high – on the dashboard and in the upper area of the center 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 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. 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.