Autonomous grand tourer or sporty roadster, the choice is yours
Like most automakers, Audi is going all-in on an electric future. To give us an idea of what their vehicles will look like in the future, the German marque introduced the new Skysphere concept. No doubt, it looks good. But, aside from the stunning bodywork, it also has a neat trick up its sleeve – a variable wheelbase.
What looks like a luxurious grand tourer can literally transform into an electric sports car with the push of a button. Electric motors and a sophisticated mechanism hidden in the body can move the entire front clip of the vehicle forward or back, lengthening or shortening the wheelbase by 250mm. The two different setups are called “GT” and “Sport” modes. But the transformation doesn’t end with the exterior.
Audi says the Skysphere concept comes with Level 4 autonomy, and it’s active when in the grand touring GT mode. In this mode, the steering wheel and pedals retract under the dashboard to create a spacious cabin for occupants. Once it switches to Sport mode, the steering wheel, pedals, and a portion of the digital dashboard emerge for a more driver-oriented cabin.
While the design of the Skysphere concept is futuristic, Audi looked to the past for inspiration. The transforming concept is inspired by the 1937 Horch 853, a long, luxurious roadster similar to the Skysphere. Despite having similar proportions, there is one big difference between the two – the powertrain. The Skysphere is fully electric, and it packs a total of 632 PS (465kw) and 750 Nm torque from a single electric motor positioned on the rear axle.
According to Audi, the Skysphere concept can sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in just four seconds if needed. Meanwhile, the 80kWh battery will give the roadster a range of over 500km.
The automaker adds that the concept is roughly the same size as an A8 L when in the autonomous GT mode. But it shrinks to the size of an RS5 when in Sport mode. It also comes with active aerodynamics, which remains closed in GT but is open in Sport mode. Despite its sporty silhouette and the lack of apparent cargo space, the long hood can fit two golf bags.
There’s no word whether Audi plans to put the Skysphere into production. Audi did say that the concept illustrates “its vision for the progressive luxury segment of the future.” With that, the Skysphere may remain a design study. Still, if Audi does build a production car based on the electric roadster concept, we’ll be in for a treat even if it doesn’t have the variable wheelbase and transforming cabin.