Audi has just come out with a pretty wild EV concept: A convertible roadster that extends its wheelbase to transform into a grand tourer (GT). With the touch of a button, the Audi Skysphere’s entire front end can extend or retract 9.8-inches (and drop 0.4 inches).
The Skysphere is meant to show Audi’s design chops as well as its technical prowess. It took inspiration from the company’s 1931 Horch 853, a long, low roadster with a pushed-back cabin and rear-wheel drive. The modern concept retains those primary features, in spades, with the long snout and low, laid-back cockpit giving it a mild resemblance to rear-drive GTs like the Ferrari 812 Superfast.
In place of the straight-8 gas guzzler on the Horch, the concept car has a 623-horsepower electric motor and an 80-kWh battery, with much of it behind the rear bulkhead. That makes for a Porsche 911-like rear weight bias of 60-40, meaning it would be easy to get the Skysphere sideways if it was ever built. It also delivers 553 foot-pounds of torque, enough to take it to 60 MPH in around 4 seconds. At the same time, it will go around 310 miles on the Euro WLPT cycle, or less in EPA terms.
The interior is meant to evoke 1930s Art Deco architecture (matching the period of the Horch), with modern electronic conveniences. It has a full dashboard screen like the Honda E, along with large touchscreens at the armrest locations. The sharply angled, minimalist interior is designed for a Level 4 autonomous operation, so you can relax in GT mode and take control when you want to have some roadster-powered fun.
The most unique (though perhaps highly unrealistic) feature of the Skysphere is the variable wheelbase (above). Electric motors drive a telescoping structure that takes it from a long-wheelbase grand touring EV to a considerably shorter and lower roadster. It also uses active aerodynamics that are closed in GT mode and open in roadster form. When activated, they would duct air under the car for extra downforce.
The interior also transforms, pushing the steering wheel and pedals forward and the passenger seat rearward in roadster mode, while the dash moves forward to become a more driver-centric instrument panel. Despite the sporty nature of the EV, it has space for custom luggage and two golf club sets.
All told, the Skysphere concept is a fun take on an EV that could be two cars at once, offering both driver fun and some autonomy if you wanted to relax. Don’t expect to see one on a road near you, but some of the ideas may one day come to Audi EVs. The automaker also announced that it will unveil two other concepts, the Grandsphere and Urbansphere, in the coming months.
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