Awhile back, Audi revealed its Project Artemis, which will eventually become the brand’s flagship luxury car, succeeded the Audi A8. However, the Artemis isn’t going to be another generation of A8 but something different entirely, and even more luxurious. The upcoming Audi Grand Sphere, which will debut at the 2021 IAA, is going to be the precursor to Project Artemis.
Audi design boss Marc Lichte recently told Autocar that the Audi Grand Sphere will be “a very concrete teaser of the Artemis project.”
What’s interesting is that the Artemis won’t be a traditional luxury sedan. Judging by teaser photos, the Grand Sphere is going to be more of a hatchback, offering more headroom and interior space. “I asked our design teams not for their vision of an A8 successor but for something completely new. [Sales] volumes for three-box saloons such as the A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class are going down, and there are new, more attractive body styles.” Lichte told Autocar.
Not a bad move, considering how ineffective the Audi A8 has been over the years at stealing sales from the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, something that Lichte himself admits. “Honestly, I think the S-Class has been a lot more successful than our A8, so we have to come up with something completely new to attack the S-Class. This is the result.”
When the Artemis does arrive, it will be built on an all-new platform, dubbed SSP, which is said to be an advanced architecture that blends some of the tech from the VW Group’s MEB architecture (think Audi Q4 e-tron) and Audi/Porsche’s PPE architecture (thing Audi A6 e-tron). It’s also said to use a new operating system, VW.OS, developed by Cariad, Volkswagen’s own software brand.
More importantly, the Artemis is said to be the first vehicle to use the VW Group’s unified cell battery technology, which is supposed to provide 373 miles of range. It will also get 800-volt architecture, which will allow for the same ultra-fast 350 kW charging.
We don’t know what this Audi Project Artemis, or Grand Sphere for that matter, will look like exactly but it’s going to have some radical new ideas, not only for Audi but for the segment as a whole.
“We started with a use case around long-distance travelling, and then created a layout that is a revolution for a D-segment car. Because we designed it from the inside out, we designed a huge interior space. From the outside, the Grand Sphere is almost a mono-box volume, but it’s not visible. A mono-box volume is like a van; it’s not sexy. So I came up with some clever ideas that I’m really proud of.” said Lichte.
“There are perspectives where the Grand Sphere will look like a classic grand tourer, but when you look, there’s a wide, low windshield to create the maximum interior space.”
Whatever it is, we can’t wait to see it at the 2021 IAA.