Pebble Beach is a luxurious place, and Monterey Car Week is traditionally home to the launch of carmakers grandest, most sumptuous visions for the future.
Audi’s new skysphere concept is certainly grand, and it’s certainly sumptuous. It’s also clever, with an all-electric powertrain and autonomous driving smarts.
Under the skin is a platform with a variable wheelbase packing 250mm of articulation, allowing drivers to transform their 4940mm-long roadster into 5190mm-long grand tourer at the push of a button.
In e-roadster mode, the skysphere has pedals and a steering wheel so the driver can take charge. Under the skin is a rear-wheel drive electric powertrain with 465kW of power and 750Nm of torque, good for a four-second sprint to 100km/h.
With a lithium-ion battery packing more than 80kWh on board, claimed range will be north of 500km on the WLTP range test when the car is in its more efficient GT mode.
Although it packs autonomous smarts, some thought has been put into how the car drives. Thanks to its steer-by-wire setup, Audi says drivers can toggle through a range of modes for both the steering weight and rear-wheel steering tune.
It’s backed by an air suspension with three modes, the raciest of which lowers the ride by 10mm for better aerodynamics. The concept rides on 23-inch aero wheels wrapped in 285/30 tyres.
Stylistically, the skysphere borrows from the Horch roadster with its dramatic wheel arches and voluptuous curves. It’s still thoroughly modern though, with LED lighting and a closed-over interpretation of the grille that’s defined modern Audi design.
The cabin changes in keeping with the exterior. When it’s set up to drive, there are pedals and a steering wheel. When it’s set up to drive itself – which it can do in set circumstances, thanks to its Level 4 smarts – the wheel and pedals retract to free up space for people to lounge.
Touchscreens abound, capable of acting like a conventional infotainment system, or as surfaces for work or streaming.
This is one of three Audi concepts coming under the ‘sphere’ brand. The other two – dubbed urbansphere and grandsphere – will debut in 2022.
Do you like the look of the skysphere?