Audi redefines progressive luxury with its electric roadster
The Audi Skysphere concept shows how Audi is redefining luxury in the future – it’s no longer just about driving. The concept car was designed with the clear objective of offering its occupants captivating and world-class experiences.
To give passengers the maximum amount of freedom, the Audi Skysphere concept was designed for two different driving experiences: a grand touring experience and a sports experience. This makes use of a spectacular technical detail – the variable wheelbase. Electric motors and a sophisticated mechanism with body and frame components that slide into one another make it possible to vary the wheelbase itself and the exterior length of the car by 250 millimeters. At the same time, the vehicle’s ground clearance is adjusted by 10 millimeters to enhance comfort and driving dynamics.
With the touch of button, the driver can take advantage of their freedom and choose their own driving experience– either they pilot their 4.94-meter-long e-roadster themselves in “Sports” mode with a reduced wheelbase, while the rear-wheel steering ensures that the vehicle remains extremely agile despite its dimensions. Or they can choose to be chauffeured around in a 5.19-meter GT in the autonomous “Grand Touring” driving mode while enjoying the sky and the scenery, maximum legroom, and the services offered by a seamlessly integrated digital ecosystem.
In this mode, the steering wheel and pedals move into an invisible area; the feeling of space in the concept car opens up completely new realms of possibility for such a sporty convertible. Meanwhile, the Audi Skysphere automatically keeps an eye on the road and traffic with its sensor system and drives the occupants safely to their destination.
Similar to how the interior design offers a new, contemporary interpretation of luxury, digitization and the ecosystem open up unprecedented levels of freedom and worlds of experience for the vehicle’s passengers. Thanks to Audi’s own services and the ability to integrate digital services, the possibilities are nearly endless. In addition, the passengers can share their experience on the road with friends via social media, with images of the interior and the surrounding area. The vehicle also takes care of everyday tasks that go beyond the ride itself. For example, the autonomous Audi Skysphere concept picks up its passengers with information about their current destination and independently handles parking and charging.
“New technologies like electrification, digitalization, and autonomous driving gave us the opportunity to create an experience that goes way beyond the one that typical roadsters offer today,” said design project manager Gael Buzyn.
The electric motor positioned on the powered rear axle is responsible for delivering power to the wheels of the Audi Skysphere. A total of 465 kilowatts of power and 750 Newton meters of torque have an easy time with the roadster, which only weighs around 1,800 kilograms. The weight distribution of around 60 percent on the powered rear axle results in ample traction and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just four seconds.
The Audi Skysphere’s active suspension plays a key role in the versatility of the car’s handling characteristics. When simply coasting along, the individual wheels are selectively raised or lowered to compensate for unevenness and undulations in the road surface – the result of a symbiosis between the navigation system’s digital predictions and the active chassis’ sophisticated control and actuation systems. Mounted on aerodynamically styled 23-inch alloy rims, the 285/30 tires strike a perfect balance between suitability for long-distance trips thanks to minimal rolling resistance and a sporty, active driving style with high longitudinal and lateral acceleration.
Free of controls, the interior appears as a light, spacious environment, inspired in many areas by the Art Deco universe. The comfortable seats boast the visual elegance of designer furnishings, yet they fulfill their function without any compromises – side support and safety features are part of the package. They are upholstered in sustainably produced microfiber fabric and, thanks to their variable position in the interior, offer the kind of freedom to move and legroom that can otherwise only be experienced when flying first class on an airplane. Environmentally certified eucalyptus wood and synthetically produced imitation leather are other sustainably manufactured materials that contribute to creating an unparalleled experience in the vehicle’s interior.
In driver-operated mode, the interior transforms into an ergonomically perfect driving machine cockpit. Together with the chassis and body, the instrument panel and the monitor panel on the center console also move to the rear. The driver finds all the controls, including the steering wheel and pedals, in the position that best suits them.
Large touch monitor surfaces on the dashboard and in the upper area of the center console are used to operate the vehicle and infotainment systems. In Grand Touring mode, this can be used to display content from the Internet, video conferences, or streamed movies. Small touch panels in the doors are used to operate the air conditioning.
A high-quality sound system – befitting of this luxury convertible – delivers concert hall audio quality even when the vehicle is in motion. The speakers are hidden behind the door panels; a few more in the rear interior wall even produce surround sound. The shape of the headrests prevents turbulence and also annoying wind noise.