Like a first-class flight, the 5.35m-long grandsphere saloon combines the luxury of private travel in the greatest of comfort with a comprehensive onboard experience offering.
Level 4 automated driving will make new dimensions of freedom possible: in this mode, the interior turns into a spacious sphere of experience without a steering wheel, pedals, or displays. The front seats basically become a first-class lounge with maximum space, freer views, and access to all the functions of a holistic digital ecosystem that the Audi grandsphere is integrated into, according to the Director of Audi UK, Andrew Doyle.
“The grandsphere concept is a clear signal of intent from Audi as to where we are heading with our electrification strategy,” he commented. “A glimpse of how we plan to rethink and reshape the future of the luxury segment, the grandsphere blends cutting-edge technology with our next-generation design language to create a truly exciting vision of what's to come.”
Level 4 autonomy not only changes the interior space but also opens up new levels of freedom for all the passengers. That is because the Audi grandsphere frees the driver from the tasks of driving whenever possible and at the same time also offers everyone onboard a wide range of options to use that freedom for individually variable experiences: communication or relaxation, work or withdrawal into a private sphere as desired. The Audi grandsphere concept transforms from being strictly an automobile into an “experience device.”
Audi skysphere, Audi grandsphere, and Audi urbansphere are the three concept cars that the brand with the four rings is using to showcase its vision of progressive luxury. In the process, Audi is creating a vehicle experience that goes far beyond the purpose of merely spending time in a car to get from point A to point B, and even far beyond the driving experience itself.
The drive system and the handling are no longer at the top of the design specifications in this new generation of cars. Instead, the starting point is the interior, the occupants’ living and experience sphere while travelling.
The doors of the Audi grandsphere concept are reversed so front and back touch; there is no B-pillar. The whole world of the interior opens up to passengers as soon as they climb in. But even before that, the Audi grandsphere has identified its passengers with a pathway identification – an innovative feature – that opens the doors and welcomes them with individually staged displays and ambient light. The driver and passenger positions are automatically detected and an array of personal comfort features adjusted accordingly – such as the climate control settings and the seats.
The open, broad interior supports the impression of a unique space and the lack of a steering wheel, pedals, or conventional dashboard create a feeling of openness and breadth. The large glass surfaces, expansive windshield, and transparent ceiling also emphasize that feeling.
One surprise when looking around in the Audi grandsphere's natural-coloured, reduced-design interior: neither arrays of dial instruments nor black screens for virtual display concepts are visible before activating the driving functions. Then the vehicle comes to life at the touch of a fingertip. The displays then appear but they take the form of projections on the wooden surfaces under the windshield. Depending on the driving status – whether manual with a steering wheel or level 4 – they are either distributed across the entire width of the interior or segmented for the driver and front seat passenger.
The technology platform of the Audi grandsphere – what is known as the Premium Platform Electric, or PPE – was conceived exclusively for battery-powered electric drive systems and therefore it takes full advantage of that technology. The key element of PPE is a battery module between the axles that holds around 120 kWh of energy in the grandsphere concept. A flat battery layout is possible because Audi uses the entire vehicle base between the axes. The Audi grandsphere concept’s two electric motors can deliver a total output of 530 kW and a torque of 960 Newton meters.
The heart of the drive system is the 800-volt charging technology. Like the Audi e-tron GT before it, this technology ensures that the battery can be charged with up to 270 kW in a very short time at fast-charging stations.
This strategy makes charging times that approach a refuelling stop for a car with a conventional engine possible. Just ten minutes are enough to charge the battery to a level sufficient to power the car more than 300 kilometres (186 miles). In less than 25 minutes, you can charge the 120-kWh battery from 5 to 80 percent, together with an incredible range of more than 750 kilometres (466 miles).