Without question, the biggest reveal for Audi during the 2021 Monterey Car Week was the Audi Sky Sphere, the brand’s new electrified and autonomous concept car. The Sky Sphere was unveiled during the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance, the main event during Monterey Car Week, and it was the most fitting venue for the car’s debut.
Pebble Beach is mostly filled with priceless vintage classics. It’s not unusual to see hundreds of stunningly gorgeous cars from the 1920s and ’30s, which made the Audi Sky Sphere look and feel right at home. Its modern interpretation of 1930s Art Deco design is no accident, as the design team led by Marc Lichte and Gael Buzyn took inspiration from the Horch 853 roadster from the 1930s.
Not many modern concept cars look so at home at Pebble Beach, due to its mostly vintage lineup. However, the Audi Sky Sphere is such a successful retro-futuristic design that its debut couldn’t have been anywhere other than Pebble Beach.
It’s also the second Pebble Beach debut for an Audi concept car designed by Gael Buzyn. His previous Audi PB18 e-tron Concept also debuted at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance (hence the “PB18” in its name). Interestingly, like the Sky Sphere, that car also had transformability. The PB18’s driver’s seat would slide from its normal position on the left side of the car to a central driving position, or a “Monoposto” driving position. The Audi Sky Sphere features some sliding tech as well but this time it’s the entire front end of the car.
When switching from its autonomous “Grand Touring” mode to its driver-controlled “Sports” mode, the Audi Sky Sphere’s entire front end slides toward the bulkhead of the car, reducing its overall wheelbase by 250 mm. Not only is that visually and mechanically impressive but it actually improves the car’s handling. In addition, the car’s adaptive air suspension lowers by 10 mm, making it quite the transformation.
But it’s the design that drew a crowd at Pebble Beach. The long hood, short rear deck, roadster cabin, and shooting brake rear end all combine to give it a timeless look. Its design could would work just as well in the 1930s as it will in 2030. We sincerely hope Audi puts something into production that even remotely resembles the Sky Sphere. And if the brand’s recent track record is anything to go by, there’s a good chance it will.