- Grandsphere previews production-version of A8 replacement due in 2024
- It uses the PPE platform, developed in partnership with Porsche
- Theoretically, it will do 0-100kph in just over 4.0sec
Audi Grandsphere concept: what is it?
Following the recent unveiling of the similarly future-looking Skysphere concept, the Audi Grandsphere is described as a "private jet for the road" and, as is the case for the Skysphere and the forthcoming Urbansphere concepts, it is designed primarily around its capacity for level four autonomous driving.
The concept is said to be the closest of the trio to a future production model, in this case the 'Project Artemis' luxury flagship. This will replace the A8 at the top of Audi's saloon car line-up when it goes on sale in 2025 after a 2024 debut.
In keeping with its self-driving billing, the Grandsphere has been designed "from the inside out" to provide a lounge-style environment when no human input is needed to drive it. The steering wheel and pedals retract into the bulkhead, for example. The rear doors open backwards and there is no B-pillar to maximise cabin space and airiness. Passengers are welcomed with "individually staged displays and ambient light" and the climate control and seats are automatically adjusted to their occupant's preferences as soon as they sit down.
Audi Grandsphere concept: features
The Grandsphere's infotainment system is programmed to resume content that was playing on occupants' portable devices prior to entering the vehicle. The driver's-side screen will display any unfinished news articles on entry, for example, and the passenger's screen will resume any unfinished videos.
"First class has now shifted to the front row," Audi says, as control of the car is now no longer expressly the preserve of the 'driver'. The front seats are, thus, designed for maximum comfort, with the ability to fold back by up to 60-degrees, although the expansive interior allows for an equally lavish set-up in the rear, where occupants sit on a sofa-style bench with a central armrest. This being a luxury-oriented concept, the air is filtered, temperature-controlled and even scented, if required. Each passenger also gets a set of speakers that are "inaudible to other passengers". Between the front seats is a cooler with two glasses and a specially designed drinks bottle.
Notably, and unusually, there are no visible screens, dials or physical controls upon entry into the cabin, where designers have striven to achieve a "digital detox". On start-up, projections throughout the interior show relevant data and displays to each passenger, while a sensor bar underneath the main front display allows for instant switching between tabs. A rotary-style MMI touch button can be used by the driver to cycle through menus. Eye movements and gestures can be used for the same functions in fully autonomous mode, and because the Grandsphere learns its users' preferences, it can eventually "give personal proposals" to each user.
Audi Grandsphere concept: Platform and dimensions
At 5,350mm long, 2,000mm wide and with a wheelbase of 3,190mm, the Grandsphere is a good deal larger than even the long-wheelbase version of the A8, but Audi emphasises that it is more a four-door GT car than a traditional saloon, with a sleek silhouette that comes "straight from the wind tunnel". As such, it features a long bonnet despite its electric underpinnings and the rear is heavily streamlined for optimal aerodynamic efficiency. It's unclear how closely related the eventual production car will be, but it will almost certainly lose the outlandish 23-inch wheels.
The concept uses the PPE platform, developed in partnership with Porsche, which will underpin the new Q6 E-tron and Macan EV next year. It has a 120kWh battery capable of charging at speeds of up to 270kW and offering a range of more than 750km. It will also feature a twin-motor four-wheel-drive powertrain producing 711hp. Theoretically, it will do 0-100kph in just over 4.0sec but has a governed top speed to preserve energy.
Although the Grandsphere majors on premium technology and providing a luxurious experience, its technology will trickle down to smaller cars in the new-era product line-up, potentially with an eye on ride-hailing services and shared mobility solutions.
Audi's third and final Sphere concept, the SUV-shaped Urbansphere, will be shown before next July and is expected to draw on elements of 2019's AI:ME concept, which itself previewed a compact electric crossover for the city.
Audi in India
Audi is targeting at least 15 percent of its India sales to come from EVs by 2025. Keeping in line with its global strategy, the carmaker will be bringing in more e-tron models in the years to come. As such, the German marque already has the Q4 e-tron in its global portfolio and is also working on the A6 and Q6 e-tron.
The carmaker has also said that it will consider local assembly of EVs, if it achieves its goal of having 15 percent of its total sales from EVs by 2025.