The fourth member of Audi’s futuristic “sphere” concept family professes to be something of a “Transformer” able to tour as a coupe or become a weekend adventure warrior as a pickup.
The Audi Activesphere concept follows the 2021 Skysphere roadster and both the Audi Grandsphere sedan and Audi Urbansphere space concept unveiled in April 2022. Key to the latest car’s metamorphous qualities is its rear, which can turn into an open cargo bed, or “active back,” at the touch of a button – instantly offering carrying capacity for recreational equipment such as bikes or water and winter sports gear.
Thanks to its all-wheel drive and adjustable suspension height, the Audi Activesphere claims good manners on and off-road. The steering wheel and pedals allow the driver to actively control the car while also offering autonomous driving.
Activesphere stands on the pavement at 195 ins. (4,953 mm) long, 80 ins. (2,032 mm) and 63 ins. (1,600 mm) tall and with a wheelbase of 115 ins. (2,921 mm).
The variable-height air-spring suspension allows ground clearance to be increased by 1.6 ins. (41 mm) from the basic height of 8.2 ins. (208 mm) or lowered by the same amount when driving on-road. The approach angle relevant for off-road driving, is 18.9 degrees, the departure angle 28.1 degrees.
A ski rack is integrated into the center of the roof structure. Completely flush in nominal position and practically invisible in the roof arch, it extends if required, so that skis can be safely attached and transported.
The concept was conceived and designed at the Audi Design Studio in Malibu, CA, under the direction of studio manager Gael Buzyn and his team. He describes the idea 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 off-road capabilities.”
Not surprisingly, Activesphere is a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) offering quick-charging technology from Audi’s PPE modular system. Audi claims a range of more than 372 miles (599 km) employing 800V technology. A 100-kWh battery pack with electric motors on the front and rear axles delivers a total output of 436 hp (325 kW) and system torque of 531 lb.-ft. (720 Nm). The front and rear wheels are connected via a 5-link axle.
Fast charging allows up to 270 kW in just ten minutes, which provides power to the battery for more than 186 miles (299 km). The battery will charge from 5% to 80% in less than 25 minutes.
During autonomous driving, 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. Mixed-reality optics allow users to interact with these real, yet invisible, touch-sensitive zones, because the headsets display and carry out functions by reacting in real-time when users touch them.
Glass is used extensively on the exterior. The front end of the Activesphere features the brand face, the Singleframe, designed as a transparent glazing to give passengers an unobstructed view of the road in front of the vehicle. There also are glass surfaces on the side in the lower door area. The wide, curved tailgate features extensive glazing for optimum lighting, while the roof itself is transparent to illuminate the interior.
Oliver Hoffmann, member of the Audi Board of Management for Technical Development, says: “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. The most important technical innovation in the Audi Activesphere is our adaptation of augmented reality for mobility. Audi dimensions create the perfect synthesis between the surroundings and digital reality.”