Audi’s Sky Sphere Concept just made its official debut and it looks like something from Cyberpunk 2077. Although, rather than just creating a stylish, futuristic looking to drum up excitement for the brand’s electric vehicles, the Audi Sky Sphere is actually an interesting concept car that brings some new ideas to the world of electric vehicles and automation.
Let’s start with the design, though. Audi designer Gael Buzyn — the man behind the stunning Audi PB18 e-tron concept and now this Sky Sphere Concept — created a gorgeous futuristic GT car with heavy inspiration from classic sports cars of the 1930s. It’s quite a large car, with a massively long wheelbase, seemingly never ending hood, and a short rear deck. Its back end features both the sporty silhouette of a classic roadster, with the practicality of a shooting brake.
What I love about Buzyn’s design is that it backs up its marketing jargon. It truly does look like an art-deco-style speedster designed for the future. What’s even more interesting about it is how it changes.
Like all new futuristic concept cars, the Audi Sky Sphere Concept is supposed to be capable of full Level 5 autonomy, meaning you can press a button and take a nap, while the car whisks you off to your destination. Also like many other futuristic concepts, the Sky Sphere is capable of letting the driving take over. What’s unlike other concept cars is how the Sky Sphere switches between the two.
It’s not uncommon to see autonomous concept cars with hideaway steering wheels and pedals, which only reveal themselves once the driver asks for them. What is uncommon is that the entire Sky Sphere physically shrinks when doing so. When the driver asks for the wheel, electric motors and sophisticated mechanisms actually shorten the wheelbase by 250 mm, pulling the front wheels closer to the bulkhead. Additionally, the adaptive air suspension lowers 10 mm. This “Sports” mode’s shorted wheelbase and lower ride height, along with as-standard rear-wheel steering, give it a much sportier feel and increased capabilities.
As far as I know, there’s never been a production car with an adjustable wheelbase, which makes the Audi Sky Sphere a very interesting idea. Of course, it’s not a production car, merely a very good looking concept car, but the ideas implemented here are fascinating and could be feasible in the future.
If you just want to relax and enjoy the autonomous driving capabilities, you simply switch it into “Grand Touring” mode, watch as the wheelbase extends, the steering wheel folds away, the pedals retract into the footwell, and the suspension slacken off. It then becomes an effortless, luxurious, and tech-filled place to relax. The Sky Sphere’s entire dashboard is a massive screen (a portion of which also extends toward the driver in Sports mode), which can be used for all manner of entertainment. In Grand Touring mode, both passengers can livestream and share their journey, with a selfie camera mounted in the dash.
The Audi Sky Sphere is rear-wheel drive, with a single electric motor at the rear axle making 465 kW (623 horsepower) and 750 Nm (553 lb-ft) of torque, which is shockingly powerful for a single motor. No specifics on battery pack size were given but it’s said that the concept car more than an 80 kWh battery. Audi claims 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in four seconds, with a range of around 500 km (310 miles). Audi also claims the concept only weighs 1,800 kg (3,968 lbs), which is relatively light by EV standards.
While the Audi Sky Sphere isn’t likely to become an exact production car, its ideas and design elements are likely to be seen on production cars in the future. We’ll have to wait at least a decade before a fully autonomous vehicle will hit the road, so it could be long time before we see anything like the Sky Sphere in production. However, these are fascinating designs and ideas that we do hope make their way to at least one real, tangible production car in the future.