Audi recently unveiled its new Sky Sphere Concept, a radical all-electric, fully autonomous grand tourer with a variable wheelbase. It’s a fascinating look at both the future of grand touring and the future of Audi design. In this new video from Autogefühl, you get an in-depth, up close look at the Audi Sky Sphere and all of its incredible details.
Typically, fully-autonomous concept cars aren’t very exciting to car enthusiasts. The idea of cars fully driving themselves isn’t appealing to people who actually like to drive. There’s also the added distrust of such systems and the knowledge that, in reality, they’re very far off. However, the Audi Sky Sphere makes it interesting.
The Sky Sphere isn’t the first autonomous concept car to allow the driver to take over whenever they desire. It’s not even the first autonomous concept car to have a hideaway steering wheel that deploys upon request. However, it is the first autonomous concept — and potentially the first concept car in history — to have a wheelbase that can either extend or retract, which is the real party piece of the car.
During autonomous driving, which is the standard “Grand Touring” mode, the Audi Sky Sphere features a very long wheelbase. When the driver wants to take over, they switch the car into “Sport” mode, after which the wheelbase actually shortens, as the front end of the car slides inward 250 mm. The idea is that the shorter wheelbase provides a sportier driving feel. Very slick.
This new video from Autogefühl actually shows this off and it’s incredible to see. Admittedly, it’s very slow to transform but that’s understandable, given that it’s actually pulling the entire front end of the car inboard. In its longest setting, the Audi Sky Sphere has the wheelbase of an Audi A8L but when the Sport wheelbase is engaged, it has the wheelbase of an Audi RS5. That difference is massive and could make a huge impact on road feel.
Of course, this isn’t a production car and there’s no evidence to suggest that it ever will be a production car. Aside from the technical and cost restraints for creating a vehicle with a variable wheelbase, there are likely safety and regulatory concerns as well. So don’t expect such a thing anytime soon. However, the fact that Audi is playing with the idea is awesome and we desperately hope the brand tries to actually implement it in the future.