In just over 10 years, Audi will effectively be a fully electric car company, producing only pure EV vehicles in almost every market. So, while this new Audi Skysphere Concept is merely that, a concept, it’s one that’s probably worth remembering down the as the German marque delves further into electrification.
Revealed overnight, the Skysphere is one of a triple-threat of concepts that Audi has on the horizon. Penned by Audi’s Malibu design studio, the brand says that a large portion of its styling cues (namely the proportions and rear-hinged doors) are lifted from the classic Horch 853.
Perhaps the neatest ‘throwback’ design element are the wheels. The 23-inch wheels are designed to send plenty of cooling to the brakes inside via their plethora of ‘veins’, while also emulating the look of the wire wheels from the 1930s.
Tenuous? Maybe. The remainder of the Skysphere’s looks appear to be an evolution of Audi’s current design philosophy featured on its electric cars. The lengthy bonnet, pinched tail, and muscular haunches underline that this is a GT, while the huge non-perforated grille underlines that there’s no internal combustion engine in there.
Although this is intended to be a design study first and foremost, Audi has filled plenty of gaps when it comes to the Skysphere’s mechanicals. It’s unsurprisingly fully electric, featuring a single rear-mounted motor producing 465kW of power and 750Nm of torque. The 100km/h barrier is supposedly surpassed in just four seconds.
It weighs 1800kg, features a battery at least 80kWh in capacity, and has a range of over 500km per charge. Air suspension means it can be lowered by up to 10mm on command, and rear-wheel steering means it should be able to tackle some fairly gnarly roads with ease.
None of these points are Audi’s biggest bangs, however. The Skysphere’s biggest tricks are that it’s fully autonomous, and it features an adjustable wheelbase that can extend and retract.
There are other autonomous cars out there of course, but Audi’s latest concept gets the unique feature of having a steering wheel that folds away, leaving a dashboard that’s entirely made up of touch-screen. The huge screen allows the passenger (and presumably when the steering wheel is retracted, the driver) to access the web, watch movies, sit in on conference calls, and the like according to Audi.
The wheelbase is perhaps more curious to those wanting a driver’s car. According to Audi, the wheelbase can be extended by 250mm, increasing the size of the Skysphere’s footprint from that of an RS 5 to being larger than an A8. This extension comes when the driver switches from Sport Mode to GT Mode, extending the car’s outright length from 4940mm to 5190mm.
The extension and compression occurs around the firewall. The bonnet, front fenders, and shapely side skirts all move with the front wheels, revealing a textured surface underneath similar to that of the ‘grille’ up front.
Audi has already confirmed that the Skysphere isn’t destined for production, although they did add the phrase “never say never”. “For now it’s just a concept to visualize the two different characters of the car,” the brand said in a statement. The Skysphere is best taken as a letter of intent. Don’t be surprised to see more concepts championing autonomous luxury in the coming years.