Say hello to the world’s first real-life Transformer - a new Audi concept car that can actually shapeshift.
The Audi Skysphere is a stunning all-electric two door roadster with incredible power of 632 PS and a front grille that grins like a maniacal Decepticon.
And at the touch of a button the Skysphere can also morph into a Grand Tourer.
It does so thanks to a ‘variable wheelbase’, which lengthens the car by 250mm and increases the ride height by 10mm. The Skysphere can, then, go from being the same length as the Audi RS 5 to then stretching to the same proportions as the A8 L limo.
And the idea here is that once you’ve finished having fun on the twisties you can sit back, take advantage of the increased leg room, and then let the Skysphere’s autonomous driving system ferry you to where you need to be. In GT mode, the steering wheel and pedals even move into an ‘invisible area’ to boost the sense of space.
An Audi spokesperson explains: “With the touch of button, the driver can take advantage of their freedom and choose their own driving experience – either they pilot their 4.94-metre-long e-roadster themselves in 'Sports' mode with a reduced wheelbase, while the rear-wheel steering ensures that the vehicle remains extremely agile despite its dimensions. Or they can choose to be chauffeured around in a 5.19m GT in the autonomous 'Grand Touring' driving mode while enjoying the sky and the scenery, maximum legroom, and the services offered by a seamlessly integrated digital ecosystem.”
And then there’s the way the Skysphere looks - which is a bit special.
The touchstone for designer Gael Buzyn was the legendary Audi Horch 853 roadster from the 1930s, though Audi is quick to point out that they’re aiming for ‘reverence’ to that model without retreating to ‘retro’ styling.
There’s a specific pulsating light pattern according to whether you’ve got the Skysphere in GT or Roadster mode.
And Audi says the interior is an ‘Art Deco universe’. It’s ecologically-sound, too, with seats made from sustainably produced microfiber fabric and the cabin adorned with environmentally certified eucalyptus wood and synthetically produced imitation leather.
There are large touch monitor surfaces – 1415 mm wide and 180 mm high – on the dashboard and in the upper area of the centre console that operate the infotainment systems. And in Grand Touring mode, this can be used to display content from the Internet, video conferences, or streamed movies. Small touch panels in the doors are used to operate the air conditioning.
There’s a high-quality sound system that delivers ‘concert hall audio quality’ even when the vehicle is in motion. The speakers are hidden behind the door panels; a few more in the rear interior wall even produce surround sound. The shape of the headrests prevents turbulence and also annoying wind noise.
And underpinning it all is an electric system that produces power of 632 PS and 750Nm of torque. That results in acceleration from 0 to 62mph in just four seconds.
Meanwhile the 80 kWh battery should give the Skysphere a range of more than 310 miles between charges.
Andrew Doyle, Director of Audi UK, says: “Audi is renowned for its progressive concepts cars that demonstrate remarkable foresight and technological ingenuity. The Skysphere concept is the first of a family of three, that will help shape the vision and direction of our brand as we electrify our business operation and future model lineups."
We’ll bring you further details as and when they drop.
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