The latest model in Audi’s futuristic concepts – and the fourth in the series – is the Audi activesphere. Following on from the Audi skysphere roadster in 2021, the Audi grandsphere sedan and the Audi urbansphere space concept in April 2022, a four-door crossover coupé with a versatile body design is now making its debut.
At 4.98 metres long, the highly elegant car is more than a mere luxury-class sports car, it has impressive ground clearance, and large 22-inch wheels announcing its off-road capabilities. The Sportback rear of the activesphere can turn into an open cargo bed (“active back”) at the touch of a button – perfect for carrying recreational equipment.
By combining opposites in perfect synthesis, the Audi activesphere proves its versatility, with a drive system and suspension that make it equally adept both on and off the road for a great driving experience. For those wanting a more relaxed journey, it offers autonomous driving. As a coupé that is as elegant as it is dynamic, the car features classic proportions and lines, but in just a few seconds, the car transforms into a pickup, with enough space for two e-bikes in the cargo bed.
The concept car was conceived and designed at the Audi Design Studio in Malibu, where studio manager, Gael Buzyn, and his team, are the creative minds behind the project. “The activesphere is unique. It is a new type of crossover that cleverly combines the elegance of an Audi Sportback, the practicality of a SUV and true offroad capabilities,” says Gael.
With an electric drive and quick-charging technology from Audi’s Premium Platform Electric (PPE) modular system, the Audi activesphere, has a range of over 600 km, and extremely fast charging times thanks to 800-volt technology, combining the sustainability, dynamics and long-distance capability of a state-of-the-art electric vehicle with no local emissions.
Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development, says of the concept series: “The sphere concept vehicles show our vision for the premium mobility of the future. We are experiencing a paradigm shift, especially in the interior of our future Audi models. The interior becomes a place where the passengers feel at home and can connect to the world outside at the same time. But the most important technical innovation in the Audi activesphere is our adaptation of augmented reality for mobility. Audi dimensions creates the perfect synthesis between actual surroundings and digital reality.”
Prioritised interior – people-focused
“Sphere” sets the tone: the common name component of the Audi concepts, skysphere, grandsphere, urbansphere, and now activesphere.
Kilowatts and km/h, or lateral acceleration, are no longer at the top of the design specifications for this new generation of cars. Instead, the starting point is the interior, the occupants’ living and experience sphere whilst traveling. Their needs and desires shape the space, the architecture, and the functions.
With that reassessment, the design process itself changes. At the beginning of all discussions, the focus is directed toward the interior and its design. Only then are the package, proportions, and lines of the exterior designed.
The autonomous chauffeuring capability gives drivers and passengers a new level of freedom on suitable terrain, which, thanks to the new display and operating technology, can be used in the activesphere in a variety of ways. The innovative operating concept, Audi dimensions, combines the physical and virtual worlds (i.e., mixed reality) by displaying digital content in the occupants’ fields of vision in real time.
High-tech headsets provide a view of the real environment and the route, while simultaneously displaying 3D content and interactive elements – individually configurable for drivers and passengers. This means all driver-relevant information, such as driving status and navigation, can be displayed. And in the interior, headset users can see control panels and other virtual displays in a tidy, minimalist design that remains hidden to the unaided eye. Mixed reality optics gives users the ability to interact precisely with these real, yet invisible, touch-sensitive zones, as the headsets display and carry out functions by reacting in real time when users touch them.
Audi dimensions – traversing worlds
Crossing boundaries is the strength of the Audi activesphere concept – and this also applies to the interface between the car, the user, and the environment. For the first time, the new system combines physical reality and the digital sphere to create a new world: the Audi dimensions.
The centerpiece of the new system is innovative mixed reality headsets – available individually for each driver and passenger. Users also have access to a comprehensive digital ecosystem while they’re in the Audi activesphere.
The Audi activesphere concept is the first to use a pioneering generation of this technology, which in turn adds the dimension of interaction to the dimension of superimposed real and digital worlds. With unprecedented optical precision, highest resolution, and excellent contrast, the system brings control surfaces and displays, invisible to the unaided eye, into the user’s field of vision while behind the steering wheel.
Robust elegance – exterior design
As a perfect all-rounder, the Audi activesphere concept is ideally suited to the high demands of a future-oriented generation of Audi customers – people for whom individual mobility and sustainability are not mutually exclusive, those who expect their vehicle to deliver the brand’s typical aesthetics and dynamism in the highest degree, combined with future-oriented technology.
The activesphere marks the first time that a car with a Sportback hatchback incorporates the design elements and technical equipment of an allroad. For this reason, Audi calls the new body variant “active Sportback” in contrast to the allroad.
PPE – customised drive technology
Due to its dimensions and performance level, the Audi activesphere concept lends itself to the use of Audi’s most innovative electric drive system: the Premium Platform Electric, or PPE for short, which, like the Audi grandsphere and Audi urbansphere concept cars, draws on this modular system for series production. It is being developed under Audi’s leadership, together with Porsche AG. The first Audi production vehicles based on PPE will be presented, one after the other, before the end of 2023.
The PPE is designed exclusively for battery-electric drive systems and can therefore take full advantage of all the benefits of this technology – for the betterment of the cars’ driving characteristics, economy, and package options.
Performance and fast charging with 800 volts
The activesphere features Audi adaptive air suspension with adaptive dampers, with the front and rear wheels being connected via a five-link axle. Electric motors on the front and rear axles of the all-wheel drive concept deliver a combined total output of 325 kW and a system torque of 720 Newton metres.
The heart of the drive technology in all future PPE models will be the 800-volt charging technology – a first for the high-volume mid-range and luxury segments. This ensures that the battery, like the one in the Audi e-tron GT quattro before it, can be charged with up to 270 kW in a very short time at fast-charging stations.
PPE technology enables charging times that come close to a conventional refueling stop for a combustion engine car. Just 10 minutes is sufficient time to take enough energy on board to power the car for more than 300 kilometres. In less than 25 minutes, the 100 kWh battery charges from 5 to 80 percent. Together with its range of well over 600 kilometres, the Audi activesphere positions itself as unconditionally suitable for long distances, when needed.
For more information on the activesphere and other Audi sphere models, visit the Audi media centre here.