Audi unveiled a new concept EV called the Skysphere and the very first thing that popped in our minds was “But that doesn’t look like an Audi in any way!” We didn’t mean it in a bad sense though. The new Skysphere Concept looks like nothing before from the German automaker. The new future electric concept seems like an amalgamation of a roadster and a GT cruiser, and it can literally transform between the two. Did Audi make some sort of pact with the Autobots?
In its official statement, Audi said that this was created to provide two different sensations for those enthusiasts who seek the best of both worlds. Inspired by the 1937 Horch roadster, the two-seat concept is the first of “Sphere” concept vehicles, and is scheduled to make its public debut at the 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The Skysphere Concept can be converted from a grand tourer to a sports car with the press of a button in just a few seconds (I’m pretty sure now that Batman has commissioned this project). The electric concept car has the unique ability to extend its wheelbase and ground clearance whenever required.
In “GT” mode, the vehicle drives autonomously so the two occupants can relax as they cruise along in a comfortable Grand Tourer. But push the switch to “Sport” mode, you gain control of the driving, and the shorter wheelbase will turn the vehicle into a two-seat roadster.
The wheelbase of the Audi Skyspshere stands at 4,940 mm in Sport mode and can be stretched by another 250 mm to reach 5,190 mm in GT mode. To give you a visual idea, the Skysphere transforms from the length of the Audi A8L in GT mode, to the equivalent of the RS5 in Sport mode. Moreover, the ground clearance of this unique vehicle can also be raised by at least 10 mm to improve its comfort and dynamic behaviour.
So now if you’re thinking, “Okay this is a car with a variable wheelbase! That’s cool but nothing out of the box”, then hold on there’s more. The Skysphere not only transforms in terms of dimensions, but it is also capable of transforming the interior from an autonomous mode to a regular driving mode based on the exterior dimensions.
In GT mode, this unique car offers Level 4 autonomous mode. But here’s the mind-blowing part, in this mode the steering wheels and pedals also retract into the dashboard and the dashboard turns into a giant touch screen. It offers more room to the driver side of the cabin giving it a proper grand tourer feel. And when you click the button for the Sport mode, VOILÀ, the steering wheel and pedals present themselves back to the driver as requested. See I am telling you this thing is surely some Batman X Autobots dream collab come true!
And that we’re talking interiors of the Skysphere, let’s focus on the rest of the bright and spacious cabin. The seats are draped in sustainably produced Agave Blue microfibre and vegan leather. The wooden trims in the cabin also come from environmentally certified eucalyptus wood that’s accented by subtle metallic touches. The dash is entirely a wide glass screen instead of a conventional design. Overall an environment-friendly electric vehicle, inside out.
The Audi Skysphere gets a futuristic electric car design, which the carmaker said will be visible in its cars in coming years. The Skysphere has a single frame grille at the front which can be illuminated. The fully covered panel is dotted with several LEDs for a unique light sequence. On the sides, the wide curves and large flared wheel arches give the car a masculine appeal. The Skysphere stands on a set of 23-inch wheels which are inspired by the wire-spoked wheels from the past.
The rear section of the car combines elements of a speedster and a shooting brake, with a large glass surface that follows a traditional design. Two suitcases, designed specifically for the concept car, are housed under the glass, secured with straps. The LED pattern seen at the front is also reflected at the back which maintains a synergy in the overall design.
To design this innovative ‘concept car’ the head of the design studio, Gael Buzyn and his team, the creative minds behind this project, were inspired by a legendary classic – the Horch 853 roadster.
Now that we’ve talked about everything else, let’s focus on the inner power, not ours, this car’s. The Audi Skysphere EV concept has an electric motor located on the rear axle, which is responsible for supplying the power to the wheels of this axle.
Audi expects the battery capacity to be more than 80 kWh, which will allow a theoretical range of more than 500 kms, according to the WLTP standard using the GT program. The batteries will be positioned behind the two seats and underneath the centre console.
With a power of 465 kW (624hp) and a maximum torque of 750 Nm, the Skysphere can do a 0 to 100 kmph sprint in just 4 seconds. The 1,800 kg EV has a weight distribution of around 60 per cent on the powered rear axle that results in ample traction.
Now before we finish, few words on the inspiration of the Audi Skysphere. The 1937 Horch Roadster which inspired the concept vehicle won the 2009 Best of Show at Pebble. Horch was one of the four brands of the Auto Union (with Audi, DKW, Wanderer) that later transformed into the Audi brand we know of today with the four rings. However, the rings brand has just begun with the Spheres. The next two concepts based on the Audi’s “Spheres” philosophy will be the Urbansphere and the flagship Grandsphere. Like the Skysphere, all three vehicles will inspire the design of future luxury vehicles from Audi.
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