Audi Grandsphere concept first look: Precursor to the new A8

    The radical concept will influence and inform the design of the next-gen A8, which debuts in 2024.

    Published On May 22, 2023 08:00:00 AM


    Audi Grandsphere concept

    With the dawn of electric mobility, the entire future of the automobile is also changing, and changing fast. As an auto journalist, it’s a fantastic time to peer way into the future and take a look at what will be. On a recent trip to the Audi House of Progress in Singapore, I saw the Audi Grandsphere: their concept of what the future of the A8 is going to be.

    Audi Grandsphere concept exterior

    Let’s start with size. At 5.35m long, it is an indication of how large the new A8 is expected to be, and a large amount of that space is for the comfort of passengers. In fact, that is the premise of the car; it’s been designed inside out to maximise occupant space and take advantage of its dedicated EV architecture. But interestingly, it looks more GT than a luxury sedan, with tightly drawn lines and a curvaceous profile. All areas of the car are rounded off and the bonnet curves inward, drawing you into the humongous fake grille. Slim-slit LED lamps sit on top of the grille area, with the LED elements looking like a pair of eyes in each one of them, flanked by a distinctive pixel LED pattern. On the nose is an illuminated 3D Audi logo. The side profile has taut lines that play with light, making it look poised for action. The roof flows back, ending in a spoiler that reminded me of hair flying back in an open-top car. The spoiler is very interesting, extending over the small, oval rear windscreen. In fact, the entire roof is just one swathe of glass. The round curvaceous rear is clean and smooth with very little detail, except for the slim LED lamps and another illuminated Audi LED logo.

    Audi Grandsphere concept interiors

    The future really begins when you walk towards the car and the doors swing open like a mother’s arms welcoming you, and with no B-pillar, the entire insides of the car look very grand and large.

    It's as wild and radical as you'd expect a concept car to be, but many design details will make it to the next A8.

    My immediate reaction is: where is the steering? Where are the pedals? Equipped with Level 4 Autonomous capabilities, the Grandsphere was designed to be a self-driving car, but that may still be another generation away from reality. The concept does have steering and pedals for the driver, of course, but they are tucked away in the dash and floorboard when not needed. The dash itself is another indication of what the future holds. It’s just a UI projection on the wooden surfaces, which is controlled by the movements of your eye. Depending on the driving status, they will either be spread across the entire width of the front panel or segmented for the driver. The Grandsphere will adjust to individual users, learning their preferences and giving personal recommendations, apart from regular functions.

    Gesture controls dominate the car, whether it’s eye or hands. To pull up menus on the display, one has to merely look at one of the illuminated shortcuts on the front panel. These can also be brought up by taps on the door pad.

    Because it's designed as an autonomous car first, the steering and pedals are hidden until you need them. 

    Bucket seats up front and a bench at the back are comfy and give you a living-room vibe. A small plant in the centre console adds to the lounge ambience, and, in the storage area between the seats – which slides open at the touch of a button – is a water dispenser.

    Audi Grandsphere concept powertrain

    A lot of these features are probably further into the future than the next generation A8, but with the Grandsphere based on the Group’s PPE or Premium Platform Electric, we can expect its production counterpart to be electric too. And, with a 120kWh battery and two electric motors at each axle that have a combined output of  711hp and 960Nm, the Grandsphere is expected to go from 0-100 in 4.0 seconds. With air suspension and active dampers, there is a promise of luxury with dynamic capability. There will be tonnes of AI, large, spacious interiors and breakaway styling. Look out for the production model in 2025.

    Also see:

    Next-gen Audi A8 to be inspired by Grandsphere concept

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