The Audi Skysphere concept rolled onto the lawns of Pebble Beach in August, marking the first vehicle with the brand's new "sphere" naming structure. The gorgeous convertible touted a two-seat layout, a fully electric powertrain, and up to Level 4 autonomy. Now, just a few days ahead of next week's IAA Auto Show in Munich, the company is showing the second "sphere" concept – the Audi Grandsphere.
The four-door Grandsphere doesn't look much like its drop-top sibling, admittedly. But like the Skysphere concept, the Grandsphere previews the brand's proposed EV future, promising a fully electric powertrain, a thoroughly modern cabin, and up to Level 4 autonomy once the production version hits public roads, if it ever does.
Stylistically, Audi calls the Grandsphere a "private jet for the road." And this concept undoubtedly looks the part with a streamlined, extra-long exterior design that triumphs over the decidedly pedestrian production A8. The Grandsphere stretches out to 5.4 metres long (17.6 feet), extends width-wise 2.0 metres (6.6 feet), and has a wheelbase of 3.2 metres (10.5 feet). The goal, Audi's designers say, was to make the Grandshphere feel like a "top value" proposition in the lineup.
The front fascia design is vaguely similar to the current crop of Audi products – the signature Singleframe grille is a dead giveaway. But otherwise, the design of this concept is almost entirely unique. The ultra-slim headlights sit atop each corner of the grille, the bonnet and front overhang are short, and the sculpted side profile blends into a unique fastback-styled rear with thin light fixtures and a red illuminated Audi logo.
The cabin of the Grandsphere is unlike any other Audi we've seen, save the Skysphere concept. Pop open the reverse-opening doors and the Grandsphere welcomes you to its ultra-high-end cabin with a driver-specific ambient lighting display. Driver and passenger seat settings adjust automatically as well, depending on the predetermined mode, and the cabin cools or warms to the desired temperature accordingly.
High-end materials like wood, wool, aluminium, and glass dot the cabin. There are no screens, either – the full-width MMI infotainment display projects atop the wooden surface of the dash, displaying things like audio controls and navigation. And when in Level 4 autonomy, the steering wheel and pedals retract into the body for a full driverless experience. That allows passengers to take advantage of the centre console-mounted cooler, complete with two glasses and a specifically designed bottle for drinks.
The Grandsphere concept rides atop the Volkswagen Group’s Premium Platform Electric (or PPE), which will make its way to production with the A6 E-Tron, Q6, and Porsche Macan EV. The battery module between the axles has a capacity of 120 kilowatt-hours, and when combined with two electric motors – one on each axle – the Grandsphere concept has a maximum output of 710 bhp (530 kilowatts) and 708 pound-feet (960 newton meters) of torque. That gives the large four-door the ability to hit 62 miles per hour in just over four seconds.
Audi estimates the Grandsphere can travel up to 466 miles (750 kilometres) on a single charge – likely on the WLTP scale – with the ability to recoup 186 miles (300 km) in just 10 minutes thanks to the battery's ability to charge at up to 270 kilowatts. Recharging from five percent to 80 percent takes 25 minutes.
Rear-wheel steering and an adaptive air suspension setup both come standard on the Grandsphere, with the latter able to adjust within milliseconds in order to help control pitch and body roll. A front-facing camera even helps the adaptive suspension adjust proactively depending on the conditions ahead.
For now, the Audi Grandsphere is just a concept. But as with the sportier Skysphere, the company says that these two vehicles preview the future of EVs within the Audi lineup. Here's hoping that both find their way to production.