Audi has given the first glimpse of its next generation design language with the unveiling of the Skysphere concept, which hints at a future electric roadster.
The new machine, revealed at the Monterey Car Week in Pebble Beach, California, is the first of three ‘sphere’ EV concepts that the German manufacturer will present over the coming months.
The Grandsphere, which previews the forthcoming ‘Landjet’ A8 successor, will be shown at September’s Munich motor show and the Urbansphere will come in 2022. The Skysphere is an electric two-door convertible that was developed around the principles of Level 4 autonomy, which means the car can drive unaided on roads equipped with the necessary infrastructure.
Gael Buzyn, the head of Audi’s Malibu design studio, led the work on the concept. He said it was designed to offer a “redefinition of grand touring”. The concept has a variable wheelbase, which works by extending the bodywork ahead of the A-pillar to offer two different driving experiences: one as an autonomous luxury grand tourer, the other a more focused sports car.
Exterior design and styling
The Skysphere is designed as a pure-electric vehicle but maintains an extended front bonnet reminiscent of traditional grand touring machines. Buzyn said this was to add a “classic sense of prestige”. He added: “An electric powertrain gives us a lot of freedom, so we can do a lot of [different] things, but that wasn’t the exercise here.”
The development of the concept was led by Audi’s design studio in California, with the bulk of the design work completed in digital form.
A key inspiration for the dimensions and proportions of the Skysphere was a version of the Horch 853 roadster that was produced in the late 1930s by one of the four firms that merged to form Auto Union.