- audi has unveiled the dramatically-styled grandsphere concept, which showcases the brand's future design direction.
- the grandsphere concept is an electric sedan that also features a vision for future autonomous driving technology.
- a lounge-like interior features a retractable steering column and a massive infotainment setup that is projected onto a flat dashboard.
the future of audi's design and engineering is previewed by this elegant grandsphere concept sedan. the second in a trio of concepts to debut in short order, the grandsphere shares styling elements with the sportier skysphere coupe, but integrates a more spacious, four-door layout and a host of interesting tech. a third concept called urbansphere will debut next year.
two electric motors generate 711 horsepower combined and up to 686 pound-feet of torque, allowing the grandsphere to reach 62 mph in a claimed 4.0 seconds, according to audi. the company also claims a driving range as long as 466 miles on the wltp cycle and fast-charging via a 270-kw onboard charger, borrowed from the e-tron gt that's on sale today.
while the exterior design is certainly dramatic and attractive, the interior is where the concept showcases its most futuristic elements. facing the driver and front passenger is a large, flat dashboard that's devoid of buttons and lacks the traditional touchscreen display. instead, the car's infotainment is projected onto the dashboard, and a camera tracks the driver's eyes and flicks through menus and selections based on eye movement. each of the car's four doors features physical buttons for the climate-control system, but those can also be adjusted based on hand gestures.
autonomous driving is the grandsphere concept's biggest flex, though, and in autonomous mode, there's no steering wheel in sight. for instances when autonomous driving is not available—such as when exiting a highway into city traffic—a steering wheel and gauge cluster deploy from behind the flat dashboard so the driver can take control.
the luxury quotient is high as well, with several high-end touches painting the grandsphere concept as an upscale executive cruiser. the center console between the two front seats can be electrically deployed forward toward the dashboard to provide more storage space ,and it also includes a cold water dispenser. other posh touches include an air filtration and aroma diffuser system, wool upholstery, and hornbeam wood trim. to make it feel even more like a rolling living room, audi even made room for a little potted plant between the two front seats.
at this point in time, the grandsphere is merely a concept, but audi claims to be working on a production version and is targeting a launch sometime in the middle of this decade. that seems like a short time frame to bring level 4 autonomy to the motoring public but some form of self-driving tech is sure to be included when the production version of the grandsphere launches.