The private jet for the road - Audi is presenting the Audi grandsphere concept study at the IAA 2021. Like a first-class flight, the 5,35-meter-long limousine combines the luxury of private travel in the highest comfort with a wide range of experiences on board. Automated driving at level 4 enables new dimensions of freedom: In this mode, the interior is transformed into a spacious sphere of experience without a steering wheel, pedals and displays. And the first row of seats becomes the First Class Lounge with a maximum of space, a clear view and access to all functions of the holistic digital ecosystem in which the Audi grandsphere is integrated.
Audi grandsphere concept
As the second of three “Sphere” concept automobiles from the brand with the four rings, the Audi grandsphere occupies a special position. Because many of the technologies and design features brought together here will be found in future series Audi within a few years. The Audi grandsphere concept illustrates the brand's claim to become the pacemaker for technological transformation and completely new, holistic mobility offers in the automotive upper house.
The electrically powered roadster Audi skysphere concept made its debut in August 2021 - the spectacular vision of an automated GT that can be transformed into a self-driving sports car with a variable wheelbase. Both concept automobiles - and also the Audi urbansphere, the third representative of the trio to be released in 2022 - are linked by the derivation of the entire concept from the ability to be able to drive automatically at level 4. A technology that Audi is working towards introducing in the second half of the decade together with CARIAD, the Volkswagen Group's software think tank.
Level 4: This not only changes the interior from the classic driver-oriented cockpit plus passenger seats into a spacious lounge as soon as the steering wheel and pedals move back. At the same time, new degrees of freedom open up for all passengers. Because the Audi grandsphere not only frees the driver from driving, whenever possible. Rather, it also offers everyone on board a wide variety of options to use this freedom for individually configurable experiences: communication or relaxation, work or retreat into privacy, if so desired. The Audi grandsphere concept is being transformed from a pure automobile into an “experience device”.
The possibilities are expanded with Audi's own services and the integration of digital services. With these, a multitude of service topics can be opened up around the current trip - for example the design of a scenic route, also restaurant or hotel options. Everyday tasks beyond driving are also taken care of. The automatically driving Audi grandsphere concept picks up its passengers with information about the current travel destination and takes care of parking and charging independently.
Infotainment offers are also individually tailored, such as the seamless integration of onboard streaming to music and video providers that are already in use. In a further step, Audi will in future have personalized and exclusive offers ready - concerts, cultural events or even sporting events to which customers will be invited.
The Audi grandsphere concept illustrates the brand's claim to define progressive luxury of the future. For Audi, this includes offering new high-class experiences made possible by digitization, as well as a holistic sustainability approach with the aim of CO2-Neutrality in the near future along the entire value chain.
First class three times for the future
With the three concept cars Audi skysphere, Audi grandsphere and Audi urbansphere, the brand with the four rings illustrates its vision of progressive luxury. This opens up a world of experience that goes far beyond the purpose-related stay on board, beyond the driving experience.
What is new is a design that ultimately sees the interior, the passenger compartment as the center, and which no longer subordinates the experience of the occupants to the requirements of the technology. This is reflected in the variable layout of the interior, in the disappearance of the controls, the sheer width of the cabin and also combines it with new service offers.
The design process - from the inside out
The name component “Sphere” is already sending out a signal: the interior of the Audi skysphere, grandsphere and urbansphere concept vehicles is always at the center. No longer the drive, no longer the driving dynamics are at the top of the specifications of this new generation of automobiles. Rather, the starting point is the interior, the sphere of life and experience of the occupants on the way. Their needs and wishes shape the space, the architecture and the functions. With this revaluation, the design process itself also changes. At the beginning of all discussions, the focus is on the interior and its design. Only then are the package, exterior lines and proportions designed, which together with the technological premises make the automobile a total work of art.
Space, form, function - the interior
The doors of the Audi grandsphere concept run in opposite directions, hinged at the front and rear; there is no B-pillar. The entire width of the interior opens up to the passengers as soon as they board. But before that, the Audi grandsphere had already identified its passengers using aisle recognition - an innovative feature -, opened the doors and welcomed them with an individual presentation of the displays and the ambient light. The positions of the driver and front passenger are automatically recognized and numerous personal comfort features - such as the setting of the air conditioning and the seats - are set for the respective seat. The infotainment also picks up the last used services of the passengers and continues the service seamlessly in the vehicle. For example, the video that was just streamed on the tablet continues to be played automatically for the front passenger via its display in the Audi grandsphere. On the inside of the driver, on the other hand, the projection surface automatically displays the messages read before boarding.
In the interior, the lines of the decorative surfaces and functional elements are kept deliberately horizontal. The open, wide interior supports the impression of a unique amount of space and the absence of a steering wheel, pedals and classic dashboard creates a feeling of openness and space.
This feeling is also underlined by the large glass surfaces, the wide windscreen and the transparent roof. Just like the special geometry of the side windows: their upper half is markedly angled - the largest width is only slightly above eye level. A trick that Audi demonstrated for the first time in 2017 with the futuristic concept car AI: CON and which is now being implemented in series production.
The change in comfort zone is radical: If the boss sits in the back of the traditional luxury limousine, the first class now moves to the front, into the first row. Because this is no longer necessarily subordinate to the driving function and the operating elements. In Level 4 driving mode, the steering wheel and pedals disappear, and the front area of the cabin becomes the actual free space in all its width, with a perfect view through the large front and side windows and the maximum freedom of movement.
The interior appears particularly wide when the two front individual seats are pushed all the way back. The Audi grandsphere is a 2 + 2 seater. An upholstered two-seater bench with the backrest pulled to the side is integrated into the back wall as seating, the two front armchairs are designed for first-class comfort and space.
The seat surface and backrest of the two integral seat belts are optically separated from each other. The side bolsters of the backrest are subtly angled and thus provide support when cornering. The possible positions of the seats are optimized for the respective application:
In an upright position, the Audi grandsphere can be perfectly ergonomically controlled if desired and outside of level 4 zones. With a backrest tilt of 40 degrees, passengers can relax and use the infotainment system. When the backrest is finally folded back to 60 degrees, a perfect resting position is achieved. The head of the backrest can be angled forward by 15 degrees. Integrated into this area are both outlets for filtered and air-conditioned - even scented air on request - as well as loudspeakers that allow a private sound zone - inaudible to other passengers.
Between the front seats - usually hidden under a metal panel - there is a compact, cooled on-board bar with two glasses and a well-designed, elegant bottle for soft drinks. This, too, is a sign of the first-class claim of the Audi grandsphere concept.
Without fittings, without screens: displays and controls
Surprise at the all-round view of the natural-colored, reduced interior of the Audi grandsphere: Neither batteries of round instruments nor black screens for virtual display concepts can be seen before the driving functions are activated - the much-cited digital detox in its purest form.
Instead, clearly structured and calm zones made of materials of the highest quality. Wood and wool, synthetic textile fabrics and metal can be seen as wall coverings, seat covers and floor carpets, which are pleasant to the touch. Many of these materials, such as the hornbeam veneers, come from sustainable cultivation or are made from recycled raw materials. There is no leather in the Audi grandsphere - this, too, corresponds to a progressive understanding of luxury, which always includes sustainability.
Another surprise when the vehicle comes to life with a simple fingertip: There are displays - albeit in the form of projections on the wooden surfaces below the windshield. Depending on the driving situation - manually with the steering wheel, or in level 4 - distributed over the entire interior width or segmented separately for the driver and front passenger. All information that is needed while driving is available in extremely fine resolution and with precise readability.
And alternatively - in automated driving mode - the projection surface can also be used as a cinemascope screen for infotainment content, or as a screen for video conferences. In addition, a sensor bar is integrated below the projection surface for quickly switching content - for example from music to navigation. This shows all functions and applications that are active in the car. Icons for the respective menus light up.
A special, extremely innovative control element can be found near the door cutout on the interior paneling: the MMI touchless response. If the driver sits in the active position behind the steering wheel, far ahead in the interior, he / she can haptically select various function menus with this element using the rotary ring and buttons and click through the respective levels. A simple, intuitive way of operating.
If, on the other hand, he / she tilts the backrest far back in level 4 driving mode, he / she does not have to do without this comfort item. Because then a combination of gaze detection and gesture control is used. A sensor aimed at the eye recognizes when the control unit is to be used by the direction of view. And the passenger only needs - without having to lean forward - to carry out analog hand movements that are similar to those in haptic operation and can therefore operate the system just as well - even completely without touching it.
For all operating modes - eye tracking, gesture or voice control, handwriting input and touch - the following applies: The Audi grandsphere concept adapts to the respective users and learns their preferences as well as frequently used menus - and can use this as a basis not only to supplement rudimentary commands in a meaningful way, but also make individual suggestions to the user.
Control panels are also integrated in the armrests of the doors. In this way, the vehicle always offers the passengers the invisible touch surfaces by means of a visual indication of their position. There are also VR glasses on the left and right in the door armrests, which can be used in conjunction with infotainment options - for example for the Holoride system.
Dynamic monolith - the exterior design
5,35 meters long, 2 meters wide and 1,39 meters high - the dimensions of the Audi grandsphere concept clearly identify the sedan as a representative of the luxury class of automobiles. The wheelbase of 3,19 meters marks a record that also puts the long version of the current Audi A8 in the shade. However, the visual impression at the first encounter is more amazing than these values suggest. Because the Audi grandsphere by no means appears as a classic sedan, but rather as a tightly drawn four-door GT with lines that come from the wind tunnel. And which manages with a complete renunciation of decor and unnecessary flourishes.
The Audi grandsphere consistently implements the specific conditions of the electric drive in typical proportions, especially in the front area - a short overhang, a flat hood and the front window protruding far forward as the front boundary of the large interior. However, unlike many e-automobiles, it is by no means futuristic, on the contrary it emphasizes classic ideals of beauty. The upper edge of the front hood is drawn as a horizontal line far into the side of the body, suggesting a long engine compartment - hallmark of a GT. In the rear area, this line continues at the same height above the rear wheel arch, thus spanning the entire cabin and emphasizing its size.
A second horizontal line arises from the lower edge of the front hood and also extends around the entire cabin, below the side windows. It subdivides the door surfaces into horizontally oriented shoulders and the convex vertical above the sill underneath. The wheelhouses - typically Audi - are modeled out gently and yet distinctive.
The slender rear behind the massive C-pillar evokes classic streamlining. And the dynamically sloping arch of the roof line identifies the grandsphere as a representative of the Audi Sportback tradition. All lines, all surfaces seem to be organically related to one another, combine to form a monolithic body.
The wheels of the Audi grandsphere concept are 23 inches in size and refer to an icon of the 90s - Audi Avus. The six double spokes simultaneously signal lightweight construction and stability, reminiscent of functional motorsport wheels and the Bauhaus tradition of brand design.
Visible technology - the light
In the front area there is a new interpretation of the Audi brand face Singleframe: It is shaped as a flat hexagon. The inner surfaces, behind a transparent cover, are illuminated indirectly from above when the vehicle is in motion - a striking, extremely three-dimensionally structured look.
The headlight units above the single frame appear narrow, like focused eyes. The light units cite the brand logo of the four rings: because they enlarge and isolate the intersection of two rings to form a pupil - a new, unmistakable digital light signature. The size of the illuminated areas can be adjusted depending on their function as daytime running lights or dynamically staged indicators - depending on the traffic situation - and thus also set unmistakable signals in favor of safety. The same graphic can also be found in the rear lighting units - another significant feature of the Audi lighting design.
Drive and loading
The technology platform of the Audi grandsphere - the so-called Premium Platform Electric or PPE - is designed exclusively for battery-electric drive and thus makes full use of all the advantages of this technology. The central element of the PPE is a battery module between the axles, which in the grandsphere concept holds around 120 kWh of energy. Because Audi uses the entire vehicle base between the axles, a flat layout is possible for the battery.
Together with large wheels, this creates a basic proportion that is perfect not only for the shape. A high degree of interior length and thus legroom in both rows of seats is one of the main advantages. In addition, the elimination of the bell housing and transmission tunnel increases the space comfort in electric cars.
Nevertheless, the Audi grandsphere does not do without the quattro drive, which is essential for the brand. The concept car has an electric motor on the front and rear axles, which use electronic coordination to implement the all-wheel drive as required and in a perfect balance between driving dynamics and economy. The two electric motors of the Audi grandsphere concept mobilize a total output of 530 kW and a torque of 960 Newton meters.
Fast charging, long range
The heart of the drive is the 800-volt charging technology. As with the Audi e-tron GT, the technology ensures that the battery with an output of up to 270 kW can be charged at fast charging stations in the shortest possible time. This strategy allows charging times that approximate a classic refueling stop in combustion-powered automobiles. Just ten minutes are enough to take the drive energy on board for a distance of more than 300 kilometers. The charge level of the 25 kWh battery can be increased from 120 to 5 percent in less than 80 minutes.
Together with a range of - depending on the drive variant and power - more than 750 kilometers, the Audi grandsphere concept is uncompromisingly suitable for long journeys. And it keeps pace with combustion vehicles in terms of range and charging speed, making it the perfect all-rounder for everyday automotive use.
In terms of dynamic qualities, the Audi grandsphere concept - typical of an electric car - even shows the taillights of the combustion engine competition. Thanks to the high torque available from the first rotation, acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h can be done in little more than four seconds; the top speed is limited with a view to the range.
Air suspension and active chassis for maximum comfort
The front wheels are connected via a five-link axle specially optimized for e-vehicles. At the rear there is a multi-link axle, made from aluminum like the front one. The steerable rear wheels ensure excellent maneuverability despite the long wheelbase. The Audi air suspension is used in the luxurious Audi grandsphere concept touring sedan - a single-chamber air suspension with adaptive dampers. If necessary, it is perfectly suitable for dynamic driving style and guarantees sedan-like comfort without noticeable body movements under normal conditions.
The reason: there is an active suspension in the Audi grandsphere concept. The high-tech system can pull up or push down each wheel separately and within milliseconds using electromechanical actuators. This makes it possible to actively regulate the position of the body in every driving situation and thereby greatly reduce swaying or diving when accelerating or braking. Thanks to the front camera, which detects larger bumps, the control is predictive. The topographical data from the navigation system is also used to integrate curve radii, inclines and declines into the system's forecast.
Don't worry, of course that was far from being the case when it came to auto / auto tuning. Our magazine still has tens of thousands other tuning reports in stock. Do you want to see them all? Then just click HERE and look around. Or are you particularly interested in everything to do with the manufacturer Audi? Then the following excerpt with other vehicles is definitely the right one.
tuningblog.eu - on the subject of cars, motorcycles, bikes / ATV / scooters & Co., and of course our passion, the Tuning, we keep you up to date and report daily on cool vehicles from all over the world.It's best to subscribe to ours Feed and you will be automatically informed as soon as there is a new post.