Audi is very aware that the future of luxury is changing, drastically. The current Audi A8 is a good luxury car but if Audi wants to take on Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, and Lucid, it’s going to need to completely re-think what the future of luxury is. That re-think is this Audi Grand Sphere.
This new Audi Grand Sphere is certainly a re-think of what a futuristic luxury car can be. It’s sleek, it’s stylish, and it features a completely different design than any other Audi luxury sedan before it. Rather than a traditional three-box sedan design, the Grand Sphere uses an almost four-door shooting brake design. Its rear end features a thick C-pillar and a roof spoiler, which makes it look more like a hatchback than a sedan.
It also features an open, airy, spacious interior that’s designed to be as much of a lounge as it is a car. Think of it as a first-class flight, just with four wheels.
Being a Level 4 autonomous vehicle, the steering wheel and pedals can fold away, allowing the front of the cabin to transform into a luxurious lounge.
Up front, the two seats are carefully sculpted buckets that feature enough adjustable positions to give the front seats a relaxed resting positions. The back can fold down 60 degrees and the headrest 15 degrees, for perfect relaxation. There’s also a compact cooler in between the front seats, covered by metallic trim, which features two glasses. Audi really took the first-class flight idea to heart.
The Audi Grand Sphere also completely lacks any screens inside, providing what Audi calls a “digital detox”. Instead, the cabin is adorned with natural and recyclable materials, such as wood, wool, synthetic textiles, and metal. All of which are ethically sourced, from either sustainable cultivation or made from recycled materials. Interestingly, there’s no leather inside the Grand Sphere, furthering its ethical approach.
Don’t think there aren’t displays, though. Of course there are, just not on any screens. All displays are projected onto the materials in the cabin. For instance, all driver information, infotainment, navigation, and media are projected onto the wooden dashboard from under the windshield.
While there’s a driver at the wheel, those displays are segmented, for both the driver and the passenger. While the car is driving autonomously, it becomes one big display.
In the back seat, Audi took the term “bench seat” further than ever before. It’s quite literally a lounge bench, with thick padding all the way up the shoulders on either side. It looks like a very comfy place to sit. Also, the funky new body style creates more head room in the back seat.
The Audi Grand Sphere is powered by two electric motors that combine to make 710 horsepower (530 hW) and 708 lb-ft (960 Nm) of torque. Those motors get their juice from a 120 kWh battery, which gets 800-volt technology, which allows for 270 kW charging. It gets a 466 mile (750 km) range and can replenish that range from 5-80 percent in less than 25 minutes. Just ten minutes of charging at 270 kW gives you another 186 miles (300 km). And yet it can still get from 0-62 mph in just over four seconds.
Don’t think the Audi Grand Sphere is some boring electric, autonomous pod, though. It’s based on the all-new PPE all-electric architecture and features five-link front suspension at each wheel and a multi-link rear axle. Both of which are all aluminum.
It also gets active air suspension, with independently adjustable corners, via electromechanical actuators. In milliseconds, the Grand Sphere can adjust the suspension for each wheel, as necessary. That allows it to reduce body roll, brake dive, and acceleration pitch, all while remaining comfortable and quiet. It even uses a front camera system to scan the road ahead for uneven terrain and ready the suspension ahead of time.
While the Audi Grand Sphere isn’t as sexy or exciting as the Sky Sphere, it certainly offers an exciting new take on luxury vehicles from Audi. If the next-gen Audi A8 ends up becoming something like it, it’s going to be something truly special.