The Next-Gen Audi futuristic Skysphere prototype is an electric car with level 4 autonomy and the ability to change wheelbase. It is inspired by a 1937 roadster by Horch – one of four companies that made up Auto Union, an ancestor of Audi.
This inspiration is mainly found in the huge muzzle and the displacement of the passenger cabin backwards. But among the Skysphere’s advanced prototypes is an unprecedented one: the ability to change the length of the wheelbase.
The modification of the wheelbase is done by moving the front axle forward and back by a total of 25 cm, transforming the Skysphere from a majestic grand tourer to a flexible roadster and vice versa, in the layout that Audi calls GT and Sport respectively.
While in the near future it may be highly doubtful to see the idea of the changing wheelbase reaching production, first of all for reasons of rigidity and safety, the Skysphere does not hide the freedom with which Ingolstadt’s designers and engineers envision the future.
In this vision the Skysphere is located between the luxurious Grandsphere limousine and the more compact Urbanshpere. The first debut this August at the great American classic car event, Concours d’Elegance, in Pebble Beach, California, the second was unveiled last month, followed by the Urbansphere.
There are countless small LED lights with wavy function, Audi’s illuminated signal and a diamond model form the one-piece mask, among the thin lights where they also have diamond interior elements. These ideas of the muzzle are not excluded to find their way to future Audi production.
At the same time, the interior presents some other elements of the Skysphere that may reach production: the huge digital display that covers the entire surface of the console (presenting a huge map along with infotainment and connectivity systems), the air conditioning and sound system controls on the arms on the doors, and the materials.
The lining of the interior is made of special material made of ecological leather and microfibers, Agave Blue color, while there are details of eucalyptus wood (from trees grown exclusively for industrial use). In some places there are also some metal elements, which make an Art Deco reference to Horch.
In addition to the ability to change wheelbase, the Skysphere also modifies its height from the ground through air suspension on each wheel – but the innovation here is that it uses GPS to “read” the path it follows to adjust the height in advance with the aim of maximum comfort. Conversely, in the Sport profile the height is lowered.
The Ingolstadt prototype also provides for Level 4 autonomy, so in the GT setting of the wheelbase the steering wheel and pedals retreat into the console and floor respectively to create a spacious living room for the two passengers.