Less than a month ago, Audi revealed its wild Skysphere Concept; a two door sports car with an extendable wheelbase and crazed styling. Now, giving us barely any time to breathe, it’s revealed another futuristic concept car; the electric Grandsphere Concept.
Audi has confirmed that the ‘Sphere’ line of concept vehicles (named as a pun relating to the brand’s circle-based logo, perhaps?) is all about what the future of fully autonomous luxury cars, with less focus on driving, could look like. Indeed, like the Skysphere, the Grandsphere also features a steering wheel that retracts away; revealing a plain and open dashboard.
Before we get into the tech, though, it’s worth soaking up the looks. Unlike the unique-looking Skysphere, the Grandsphere appears to mimic the proportions of current Audi offerings. This has prompted some to speculate that it could be a preview into what the next A8 might look like.
The large grille gives the car a familiar face, appearing at least partially solid in the press images. No surprises there, given that this is an EV. The slimline headlights and bonnet lines give the Grandsphere a touch of Lamborghini Estoque, while the rear quarters look inspired by the e-tron GT.
Where it looks most like its Skysphere cousin is in its rear end; pinched and pulled on to give the model a very unique and almost retro tail. This is the model’s greatest styling departure relative to Audi’s current line-up.
Inside, the Grandsphere aims to replicate the experience of a first class flight. Audi labels it an “experience device”, which sounds like marketing mumbo jumbo but is more likely code for ‘this one is for those who don’t like driving’.
When in autonomous mode, the steering wheel and pedals retract out of sight, leaving a spartan high-tech dash; the centerpiece of what Audi calls its “reduced-design interior”. There are no screens. Instead information is projected across the width of the main wooden dashboard panel. Audi says the projection system will be readable and high-resolution.
The first class flight, living-room on wheels aim is underlined by Audi’s focus on entertainment. Occupants will be able to use streaming services and read the news while on the go in the Grandsphere.
The car remembers each user, and will show what they were watching last on its screens (sorry, projectors) when they hop back in, giving a sense of continuity. The car’s sound system divides the cabin into ‘zones’, allowing multiple people to be listing to different things at once with sounds isolated to each occupant’s personal zone.
In part, the car will be able to recognise people even before they’ve hopped inside. It uses something called ‘pathway identification’ to recognise driver and passenger as they walk towards the car. On top of preparing infotainment, this feature also opens the doors automatically (suicide doors in the back), adjusts the seating automatically, and sets the climate settings automatically.
Almost forgot about the powertrain! It’s a dual-motor electric set-up, producing 530kW of power and 960Nm of torque, sending all that output to all four wheels. It’ll sprint to 100km/h in a plenty capable four seconds flat, and top speed isn’t referenced by Audi. This is paired to a 120kWh battery, with 270kW fast charging meaning it can be charged to 80 per cent capacity in as little as 25 minutes, and range rated at 750km.
Is the Grandsphere anything other than a fanciful concept? We’re leaning towards no, but you just never know. Audi says the model is built on an established platform; the PPE architecture that also underpins the e-tron GT and Porsche Taycan. When the next-gen Audi A8 is revealed, take note of the front fascia, the body surfacing, and some of the interior tech … you may have seen it before.