Meet the next in Audi’s “Sphere”-themed concepts.
Old-fashioned sedans are dead. At least, that’s the direction Audi has been aiming over the past several years, both with its sportback “coupe-like” models and forward-thinking EVs like the GrandSphere concept. Following up the transforming roadster that is the SkySphere, this car “combines the luxury of private travel in the greatest of comfort with a comprehensive onboard experience offering,” at least according to the manufacturer’s own statement.
So what all does that “comprehensive” experience entail? Well, the Audi GrandSphere concept starts off as an electric sedan concept. Naturally. Built on the next-gen “PPE” platform that will underpin the Audi A6 e-tron and electric Porsche Macan, the Audi GrandSphere concept brings a dual-motor setup and 800-volt electrical architecture. That’s pretty similar to the e-tron GT (as is the 270 kW fast charging capability), but you get more power and range here. Audi says this concept can manage 710 horsepower and 708 lb-ft of torque from its two electric motors — one on each axle. Thanks to a large 120-kWh battery pack, it can also deliver an estimated range of 466 miles (750 kilometers), depending on how the car’s configured.
More space and freedom?
The Audi GrandSphere measures out about the same as a current A8, at 17.6 feet long, 6.6 feet wide and 4.6 feet tall, on a 10.5-feet wheelbase. Unlike the A8, though, this car sheds the drab and dull trappings of a conventional sedan for something a bit more like a shooting brake. You get a short overhang at the front and a flat hood that carries out to a sweeping rear end, with some futuristic-looking thin LEDs to boot.
As with the SkySphere, though, the real key to the GrandSphere’s intent isn’t just the styling, but the technology onboard. The Level 4 autonomous capability, which is at the heart of Audi’s freedom and space-focused design language, allows the pedals and steering wheel to fold up out of sight in most driving situations. If the system can’t navigate itself — or the driver wants to take over — then the tomorrow’s world interior converts to something more like a regular car. The back has an unusual-looking rear bench that adds to the whole jet-like lounge approach Audi’s going for.
Check out the interior shots below (keep scrolling for more info):
Wait, you said no displays?
Take a look at something like the Mercedes-Benz EQS (or the other EQ models to come, surely), and you’ll note the one major feature is its pillar-to-pillar “Hyperscreen” display. Audi, for their part, went in completely the opposite direction with their GrandSphere — leaving no traditional displays whatsoever.
Yes, you do still get visual information, but not as you’d normally know it. As part of the “digital detox”, the car projects information necessary to the passengers on wooden surfaces underneath the windshield. In other words, the dashboard more or less becomes the display, rather than actually having bespoke screens. In automated mode, Audi says you can use the surfaces as “CinemaScope screens” for infotainment concepts. You can even have your video conferences in there, not that the GrandSphere would really be the oasis of luxury and peace you may be looking for if you actually did that.
While we may not exactly see that tech in production form soon, we will at least see the PPE platform and some further development on the powertrain based on the GrandSphere concept. Audi will also show the car in person at the 2021 Munich Auto Show (IAA) on September 7.
With this debut, there’s only one more “Sphere” concept to go. The “UrbanSphere” should debut sometime next year, undoubtedly sporting even more future tech — even if that, too, won’t make it into full-on production.
In case you missed it, check out more on the SkySphere concept below: