Audi’s Skysphere Concept Is a RWD Electric Roadster With an Adjustable Wheelbase
The Skysphere isn’t just a sports car or a grand tourer. It’s both.
There are typically two types of two-door coupes: smaller, nimbler sports cars and longer, more luxurious grand tourers. Think Aston Martin Vantage vs. DB11. Or Mercedes SLC vs. SL. Audi's newest concept car, however, aims to incorporate those two things into one. It's called the Skysphere concept and other than being an electric roadster with proportions that subtly tip its cap to a car almost 100 years its senior, its biggest talking point would probably be the fact that it can extend or shrink in physical length.
Billed as an electric luxury roadster that offers a preview into the future of Audi design, the Skysphere can be driven in two modes. In Sports mode, the car measures 4.94 meters and offers a tighter, sportier driving experience. Switch it over to Grand Touring mode, however, and the Skysphere uses electric motors along with a sliding body and frame to extend its entire wheelbase by 250 mm, which not only lends to a more GT-like driving experience, but also more legroom. In more practical terms, Skysphere's wheelbase can essentially go from that of an RS5 to an A8 L.
Adaptive air suspension also means ground clearance can be adjusted by up to 10 mm on the go.
Despite its decidedly cyberpunk styling, Audi says the Skysphere was lightly inspired by the classic Horch 853 roadster from the '30s, a pre-war roadster from one of the four members of Auto Union that measured 5.23m, not that much lengthier than the Skysphere in GT mode. While the Horch used a gas-burning, 5.0-liter straight-eight, the Skysphere is fully electric. Running exclusively on volts, the Audi concept produces 623 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque.
Weighing in at just under 4,000 pounds, the Audi Skysphere will apparently hit 62 mph from a standstill in four seconds flat. Sixty percent of that weight is supported by the rear axle while the batteries are placed behind the cabin as well as in the tunnel between the seats for optimized agility and center of gravity. Rear-wheel steering, as well as aluminum double-wishbone at all four corners, further help the Skysphere handle like the sports car it (sometimes) can be. All of those cells, by the way, add up to over 80 kWh total or more than 310 miles of range under the WLTP cycle in the more efficient GT mode.
Par for the 2020s concept car course, the Skysphere was designed with Level 4 autonomy in mind, featuring a steering wheel and pedals that can be stowed away completely. Audi says it'll be able to park and charge completely by itself. It's all wrapped up in a very low and very wide-looking design adorned with massive 23-inch wheels, suicide doors, and a huge digital dashboard, clearly rivaling the Hyperscreen found in the Mercedes-Benz EQS.
Designed and created at Audi's design studio in Malibu, California, the Skysphere will debut in the flesh at Pebble Beach later this week as part of Monterey Car Week. It's also said to be the first in a new trio of concepts from Audi, with the other two slated to be named Grandsphere and Urbansphere.
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