Audi Skysphere electrical sports activities automobile idea exhibits a versatile future enabled by autonomous driving

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In coordination with Monterey Car Week, Audi has revealed an electric roadster concept called Skysphere.

This flexible concept is the first of three “sphere” concepts, with the Grandsphere and Urbansphere to follow. As Audi teased last month, all three are developed by Audi’s Artemis team, which took form in 2020 and aims to accelerate EV development. Each of them also explore Level 4 autonomous driving—meaning that in some certain defined road and traffic situations, the driver could leave the controls to the car without having to stand by to intervene.

In reality, autonomous driving modes might come much sooner for wide-open highway use, not for the city.

The concept itself has a variable wheelbase, a feature that’s highly unlikely to make it into production due to the wide range of global crash-test protocols. Electric motors and a sliding mechanism can stretch the body between the front and rear wheels and allow the components to slide into themselves, varying its length by nearly 10 inches. That means the roadster can be a relatively maneuverable 194.5 inches in its Sports mode when the driver takes over, or a 204.3-inch-long autonomous grand tourer in GT mode for longer trips, maximizing leg room.

Audi Sky Sphere concept

As the car sprawls out, the steering wheel and pedals disappear, moving, as Audi puts it, “into an invisible area.” Audi sees the interior as a lounge-like place where passengers “can share their experience on the road with friends via social media,” with the car capable of picking up its passengers and handling parking and charging on its own.

Influences appear heavy—though not heavy-handed—from the 1930s-era Horch 853 roadster. The soft top concept’s doors open from the middle, suicide-style, and the Art Deco–influenced interior is trimmed in certified eucalyptus wood and imitation leather, with microfiber upholstery. Touchscreen surfaces span 55.7 inches wide.

Audi says that two overnight bags will fit under the rear glass. And as a nod perhaps to the Pebble Beach golf course that’s at the center of Monterey Car Week, the concept can fit two golf bags.

Audi Sky Sphere concept

Audi Sky Sphere concept

The Skysphere concept produces 623 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, and the vehicle weighs less than 4,000 pounds. Its anticipated 0-62-mph time is about four seconds. An 80-kwh battery pack, split into two modules, is positioned around the center rear of the car, behind the cabin, to favor fun-to-drive dynamics, and it should give the car a range of more than 310 miles based on the WLTP standard that typically results in somewhat higher numbers than EPA range.

The grand-touring roadster is built with a double-wishbone front and rear suspension, with the steer-by-wire system allowing different steering ratios on command—including multiple modes for steering behavior like centering. Rear-wheel steering aids city maneuverability, too.

Audi Sky Sphere concept

Audi Sky Sphere concept

With the “latest evolutionary stage” of Audi’s air suspension, the Skysphere concept can also lower its ride height by about 0.4 inch in Sports mode. Audi also claims that the suspension can actively raise or lower individual wheels to help further compensate for uneven surfaces—enabling huge 23-inch alloy wheels that have been styled to hark back to wire-wheel designs.

The brand says that in the future,how it defines luxury won’t be all about driving. But the way in which the Skysphere goes about switching between driving, touring, and riding shows a unique future approach this decade for the German luxury brand—perhaps due sooner than you think.

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