Audi Activesphere is an EV coupe from Mighty Morphin that’s also a pickup

Audi Activesphere is an EV coupe from Mighty Morphin that’s also a pickup

Audi Activesphere is an EV coupe from Mighty Morphin that's also a pickup

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Audi’s new vision for the electrified drive of the future is the Activesphere concept, a large electric coupe that can go from a sporty, self-driving, long-range road cruiser to a go-anywhere off-road pickup in moments with to its powerful morphing body.

The Activesphere is the fourth in a series of Sphere-themed concepts that includes the Skysphere roadster with its variable wheelbase, the large D-segment Grandsphere sedan and the Urbansphere compact MPV with ample interior space. None of these concepts are literally spherical in shape, the suffix refers to Audi’s meta-concept of design “spheres”, where the interior space of the vehicle and even the structure of the shape around the needs of the occupant.

Transform the chassis

The Activesphere is a sleek four-door sportback with a coupe-like roofline and high ride height inspired by Audi’s Allroad series of high-rise wagons. Measuring 196 inches long by 81.5 inches wide with a long wheelbase of 117 inches, the new concept’s footprint is roughly similar to that of the A6 E-Tron concept, but, with an overall height of 63 inches, it is significantly larger.

Up front, Audi’s single-frame grille has been replaced with a clear glass panel that allows passengers to look down and see the road passing beneath their feet. The glass cutouts in the concept’s doors and its nearly all-glass roof help give the already spacious cabin an even more open feel.

Like the Skysphere concept, which could stretch its wheelbase on demand to switch between sport and grand touring modes, the Activesphere is something of a transformer itself. The concept can raise its chassis 1.6 inches in seconds, increasing its ride height from 8.2 inches to 9.8 inches for improved off-road performance. Nor is it just a simple suspension lift. The Activesphere’s body also stretches vertically, exposing a more robust lower sill design and increasing approach and departure angles by 18.9 and 28.1 degrees, respectively.

The concept rolls on large 22-inch wheels with moving segments that can close to improve aerodynamics for high speeds on the road or open for better ventilation at low speeds off-road. The Chunky Pirelli Active Tread 285/22 R22 tread provides contact surfaces suitable for roads and trails.

Even the sportback tailgate is reconfigurable. The rear storage area can convert to a small pickup truck bed on demand with a fold-down tailgate, rear window that slides forward to align with the roof, and a tailgate divider that flips up to separate the bed cabin. Built-in mounting points and tie-downs allow the small bed to accommodate a pair of mountain bikes or a few sets of golf clubs. When closed, the roof of the Activesphere also incorporates attachment points for ski or snowboard racks.


Augmented reality, automated driving

The Activesphere’s cabin is remarkably minimalist with four independently sprung seats and a wraparound dash that incorporates a powerful soundbar but is almost completely devoid of screens. There’s only a small, single-line display that shows speed and battery charge – even a steering wheel can’t be found in the Activesphere’s default state. The only physical controls are a pair of small knobs that appear to serve as door handles.

Audi was able to get rid of physical screens because the Activesphere uses virtual screens that you view through mixed reality glasses and hand-tracking gesture controls. Slip on the highly conceptual AR shades – which are significantly smaller than the best mixed reality goggles I’ve ever used – and the cockpit fills with three-dimensional displays, topographic maps and more. Physical controls also flourish with additional layers of virtual functions; you can even “grab” the controls and move them virtually anywhere in the cabin.


Audi envisions this as a Level 4 autonomous concept, capable of driving itself without the need for a steering wheel. Simply chart your course in the mixed reality interface and the concept will take you where you’re going. However, the automaker also understands that there are times when you might want to drive yourself, so the Activesphere can deploy a steering wheel when needed for piloted driving. Mixed reality also plays a role when the human is in control, displaying detailed information about the concept’s performance.

Quattro electric drive

The transforming chassis is wild and the mixed-reality cabin is, for now, more sci-fi vision than reality, but the electric powertrain that underpins the Activesphere is based on real, ready-made technology. for production. The concept is built on a modified version of the Premium Platform Electric electric vehicle architecture that Audi shares with Porsche.

Two electric motors – one for the front axle and one for the rear – make up the concept’s Quattro independent electric all-wheel-drive system, developing a combined 409 horsepower (305 kilowatts) and 531 pound-feet of torque. With a large 100kWh battery to shoot, the Audi estimates around 373 miles of range for the concept. Charging should also be fast thanks to the 800-volt architecture’s ability to gobble up DC fast charging at 270 kW – fast enough to add 186 miles with a 10-minute session or a 25-minute boost of 5% to 80. %.


For now, Audi is just letting its designers stretch their concept legs. We could eventually see that tall coupe silhouette or certain design details in production cars and future concept cars, but the automaker currently has no plans to build a vehicle based on the ideas featured in the Activesphere. .

“At Audi we never say never, but the Audi Activesphere is currently a pure concept vehicle and no decision has been made regarding series production,” says Josef Schlossmacher, Audi Communication, before going on to say that “for the moment, there are no other projects [in Audi’s portfolio] with such bodywork.”

In the meantime, the upcoming Audi A6 and Q6 E-Tron models and the Porsche Macan EV will be the first production electric vehicles to run on the PPE platform. We hope to hear more about these production debuts later this year.


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