Audi is redefining its Grand Touring criteria with the Skysphere concept, which lays the foundation for future electric and autonomous Audis.
With the Skysphere, Audi delivers us under the impulse of Gael Buzin, head of the Audi design studio in Malibu, an interpretation of the GT of tomorrow with an electric and autonomous coupe. A futuristic concept in technology and style that pays tribute to the classic codes of the genre in its proportions. The concept car was designed with the clear objective of providing its occupants with captivating, world-class experiences. The designer takes us a stone’s throw from the Pacific Coast Highway, the legendary coastal road that connects the suburbs of Los Angeles to Northern California.
Horsch 853 inspiration
The Audi Skysphere is a nod to the Horsch 853 convertible, which at the time symbolized combined luxury and performance. In its proportions, the Audi Skysphere is very much in line with the GT canon, with a huge, horizontal hood and a cockpit set back to blend into a tapered fastback-style stern. Yet this concept car is futuristic in its treatment of details, with a “single frame” grille now suggested and studded with LED light points that allow the vehicle to change its visual appearance and communicate with the outside world. The light signature also changes depending on the driving mode – and wheelbase length – chosen.
At the rear, the light signature made of vertical LEDs crosses the entire width of the car, highlighting the double boss in the extension of the retractable roof. The lines are very simple and horizontal, in a color that contrasts with the rest of the body, as if to better establish the car.
465 kW and 4-wheel steering
From a technical point of view, the Audi Skysphere has only one electric motor, placed on the rear axle and which develops 465 kW for an almost reasonable torque of 750 Nm. This is quite sufficient for a roadster that weighs only 1800 kg, 60% of which is at the rear.
This “featherweight” can therefore make do with an 80 kWh battery to achieve a WLTP range of 500 km. If you drive quietly. Because in Sport mode, the beast wakes up and invites you to accelerate the pace, in a straight line as well as in a curve, with its 4-wheel steering that adds to the dynamism of this mode with a shortened wheelbase. But as a Grand Touring experience, comfort is ensured by an adaptive air suspension, welcome to compensate for the 23-inch wheels shod with 285/30 tires.
The Audi Skysphere is an electric and autonomous GT coupe that offers the best of both worlds between autonomous and active driving. To clearly differentiate the two modes, the Skysphere’s wheelbase varies by 250 mm depending on whether the driver is behind the wheel or being driven.
With the driver in hand in Sport mode, this concept car is supposed to provide the ultimate driving experience thanks to its electric motor and rear-wheel drive combined with the “short” wheelbase of a vehicle that is 4.94 meters long. If it opts for the “Grand Touring” mode, the front wheels move forward 250 mm and bring the total length to 5.19 m while ensuring greater stability and superior driving comfort. The interior is transformed into a first-class cabin after the steering wheel and pedals are retracted, with the responsibility for driving shifting to the car.
The split personality is also reflected in the different sensations distilled by the cabin. Inclusive and more confined in Sport mode, the driver’s seat turns into a luxury cabin with much more space in Grand Touring mode, letting the occupants enjoy a car that has become a “connected object” where digital technology is king and the sensations of driving in the open air are magnified. All of this in an Art Deco atmosphere of the most beautiful effect. Inspiration from the past at the service of the experience of the future.
The dashboard is about the future, with a wide screen of 1415 mm for 180 mm high, intended for the car’s controls when you drive it or for entertainment when you let yourself be driven. The air conditioning controls are located on the doors in the form of touch pads.
Of course, the interface integrates all the expected services, concierge, multimedia, applications, charge tracking and location of charging stations, remote management of objects and connected buildings, all personalized according to the driver’s tastes and the learning of artificial intelligence.