Audi Skysphere Concept revealed: Autonomous EV roadster with a trick up its sleeve

The Audi Skysphere Concept offers a variable wheelbase to transform itself from a long-wheelbase GT into a short wheelbase roadster. Of course, it’s an autonomous electric vehicle.

By:August 11, 2021 10:58 AM

The Audi Skysphere Concept has just dropped and it looks like nothing before from Audi. The new future concept electric roadster / GT cruiser is said to have been inspired by the 1937 Horch roadster. The two-seat roadster is set to make its public debut at the 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It is the first of “Sphere” concept vehicles which Audi will preview its future of luxury automobiles.

Yes, an autonomous electric roadster is not out of the ordinary, looking at the vast choice of luxury electric vehicles on the market. But the trick the Skysphere has up its literal sleeves is that it offers a variable wheelbase. In “GT” mode, the vehicle drives autonomously so the two occupants can relax as they cruise along in a comfortable Grand Tourer. But push the switch to “Sport” mode, you gain control of the driving, and the vehicle shrinks in length by 250mm (25 inches) with its variable wheelbase. The shorter wheelbase will turn the vehicle into a two-seat roadster. The Sysphere transforms from the length of the Audi A8L in GT mode, to the equivalent of the RS5 in Sport mode.

In theoretical GT mode offering Level 4 Autonomy, the steering wheels and pedals retract into the dashboard. It offers more room to the driver side of the cabin. In Sport, the steering wheel and pedals present themselves to the driver as requested. The interior is draped in Agave Blue microfibre and vegan leather, the wooden trims in the cabin are sustainably sourced Eucalyptus which will be accented by subtle metallic touches. The dash is entirely a wide glass screen instead of a conventional design.

Audi has also released suggestive numbers regarding the Skysphere’s performance. Being an EV, the 0-100km/h time would be about 4 seconds. It will feature a single rear-mounted electric motor offering 624hp. The battery pack it will come equipped with will have a capacity of 80kWh. The batteries will be positioned behind the two seats and underneath the centre console. The theoretical range the Skysphere will offer is said to be around 500kms on the WLTP cycle. It will also have enough space in its frunk to house two sets of golf clubs designed bespoke to compliment the vehicle.

The 1937 Horch Roadster which inspired the concept vehicle won the 2009 Best of Show at Pebble. Horch was one of the four brands of the Auto Union (with Audi, DKW, Wanderer) that later transformed into the Audi brand we know of today with the four rings. The next two concepts based on the “Spheres” philosophy will be the Urbansphere and the flagship Grandsphere. Like the Skysphere, all three vehicles will inspire the design of future luxury vehicles from Audi.

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