Audi Skysphere, a grand vision for tomorrow’s luxury

Audi unveiled the Audi SkySphere, a vehicle focused on providing a flexible, autonomous, luxurious, immersive digital experience

Audi has unveiled the Audi Skysphere Concept, the first of three design exercises that offer a view into future production cars with autonomous driving capabilities, allowing them to become what the brand refers to as “experience devices.”

The Skysphere is a unique two-seater electric roadster with an extendable wheelbase that can morph from a self-driving and comfortable grand tourer to a high-performance luxury sports car at the touch of a button.

Built at Audi’s Design Studio in Malibu, the 1930’s Horch 853 roadster was the inspiration for the SkySphere’s dimensions, character, and rear-hinged doors. The design is futuristic, introducing elements that will make their way into future production vehicles.

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The Audi SkySphere, A New Design Language

The single-frame grille on the long hood’s edge has grown into a projecting, lighted, and utterly covered panel with many LEDs that create interesting lighting sequences. The profile is aggressively sculpted, with muscular fenders taking center stage. A soft-top covers a little open space between the sloped windscreen and protecting arcs behind the headrests.

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What is the Horch 853?

Bernd Rosemeyer, a 1930s motorsports superstar, had the Horch 853 “Manuela” built for him. While the original automobile is no longer in existence, Audi’s museum houses a near-identical reproduction.

The aerodynamically designed 23-inch wheels are reminiscent of previous wire-spoked wheels. However, they serve another purpose to provide sufficient cooling for the regenerative braking system. Finally, the luggage compartment is hidden behind glass on the back deck.

Horch 853

A Fully Adjustable Wheelbase

The most exciting feature of the SkySphere is the expanding wheelbase, which allows the front fenders, rocker panels, and hood to move forward or retract, altering the driving experience of the vehicle.

In manual “sport” mode, the steering wheel emerges from the dashboard, and the foot pedals from the floorboard giving the driver the tools needed to drive the vehicle. The wheelbase contracts 250 millimeters / 9.8 inches in this mode, and the suspension lowers to provide a more aggressive, sporting driving experience.

In autonomous “GT” mode, the steering wheel and foot pedals withdraw to the dashboard and floorboard respectably to increase the interior space within the passenger compartment.

Additionally, the wheelbase increases, and the body rises to provide a more comfortable, luxurious, autonomous driving experience. Changing the distance between the wheels has an impact on not only proportions but also driving qualities.

In Sport mode, the Sky Sphere is 4.94 m / 194.5 inches in length, while in GT mode, the vehicle is 5.19 m / 204.3 inches in length.

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Performance And Powertrain

A single electric motor in the rear axle produces 624 horsepower (465 kW / 632 PS) and 750 Nm (553 lb-ft) torque. With output directed to the rear wheels, the SkySphere can accelerate from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 4 seconds.

The battery, which has a capacity of at least 80 kWh and is positioned behind the cabin, is supplemented with extra modules on the middle tunnel between the seats, extending the electric range to nearly 500 km (311 miles) per WLTP standards. The vehicle’s gross weight is roughly 1,800 kg (3,968 pounds), with the rear axle carrying 60% of the weight.

The Skysphere has Audi’s latest three-chamber adjustable air suspension with double-wishbone geometry front and back, which can lower the car by 10 mm and alter its handling characteristics. It also has rear-axle steering and steer-by-wire technology that can be configured to the driver’s liking.

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A new immersive Digital Experience

The entire dashboard is covered with a 1.415 mm / 55.7-inch wide infotainment screen. Passengers can use the internet, participate in video conferences, and watch movies while on board. There are no physical buttons, and all operations are controlled by touch-sensitive surfaces, with hidden speakers in the premium sound system.

The steering wheel and pedals appear in short-wheelbase Sports mode, with a piece of the dashboard shifting towards the driver and the center console forming a cockpit. Interior seating is made of sustainable upholstery made of microfiber fabric and synthetic leather and eucalyptus wood. Art Deco inspires the design of the interior.

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Will the SkySphere lead to a Production Vehicle?

For the time being, the answer is No. However, many features and design characteristics eventually make their way into future production vehicles. The Audi SkySphere is no exception.


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