Audi Skysphere First of Three Visions of the Future

The Audi Skysphere, the first of three concept vehicles from the German car brand that illustrate the automaker’s future vision of luxury, is an electric-powered 2-door roadster with Level 4 autonomous driving, an interactive interior, and is made with sustainable materials. (Audi)

Audi is decisively planning for its electric and autonomous future. The automaker has already announced the discontinuation of its work on internal combustion engines, and reports claim the final gas-powered Audi will roll off an assembly line in the early 2030s. Now, the company is debuting the first of three concept vehicles that illustrate the automaker’s vision for what it calls “progressive luxury.”

Called the Audi Skysphere, the first of the trio of concepts is an electric roadster with a variable wheelbase and two different traveling modes. In Sports mode, the Skysphere is a short-wheelbase performance car piloted by a human driver. In Grand Touring mode, it transforms into a long-wheelbase GT car operated on Level 4 autonomous technology. The Skysphere’s wheelbase and overall length vary by 250 millimeters (9.84 inches) due to body and frame elements that slide apart and together.

According to the automaker, dimensionally and proportionally, the Audi Skysphere takes inspiration from the Horsch 853 roadster of the 1930s. However, unlike that legendary classic, which won the 2009 Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, the Skysphere takes a decidedly modern approach that leverages contemporary design and engineering practices.

Art Deco motifs decorate the high-tech cabin, which features what Audi calls a “variable layout.” Two plush, single-piece chairs face a dashboard housing a 1,415-mm (55.7-inch) touchscreen display, and in Grand Touring mode, the steering wheel and pedals tuck away and out of sight. Elegant detailing, sustainable materials, and high-end audio components ensure a luxurious travel experience. Occupants enjoy outstanding legroom in Grand Touring mode.

With 465 kilowatts of power (624 horsepower) and 750 Newton-meters (553 pound-feet) of torque, the Audi Skysphere zooms to 100 kmh (62 mph) in less than four seconds, the automaker says. Battery capacity is an estimated 80 kilowatt-hours, good for a maximum driving range of 500 kilometers (310 miles) on the WLTP cycle.

A low center of gravity, 40:60 front-to-rear weight distribution, and 23-inch wheels wrapped in 285/30 tires promise athletic handling. The Skysphere features an active and adaptive air suspension with up to 10mm of height adjustability to reduce aerodynamic drag on the highway, resulting in more travel range. The suspension can also raise or lower individual wheels to smooth the ride based on predictions rooted in navigation data.

In Sports mode, the Skysphere’s steer-by-wire technology is configurable for ratio, feel, and responsiveness. The car also features 4-wheel steering for improved low-speed maneuverability and greater high-speed stability. Audi also claims that self-parking and self-charging technology is aboard the Skysphere.

Take the Audi Skysphere’s details and specifications with a grain of salt. Unlike other recent concept vehicles such as the Volvo Concept Recharge, a version of which is likely to reach production, this fantastical Audi roadster is precisely that: a fantasy. But it sure is fun to dream, and the Skysphere contains certain design, technology, and electric drive unit elements that are sure to wind up in an Audi showroom near you.

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