As an auto enthusiast who is completely awed by this feature, if the other automotive giants are as surprised as I am, I can honestly state that Audi has taken a giant leap in the technology that will take years for the others to catch up on. With this concept, Audi redefines the automotive industry while establishing itself as a true leader in this space.
Audi has just dropped a level 4 autonomous car concept that goes beyond the realms of what we are used to seeing – even by conceptual design standards. Audi propels into the future of autonomous driving with the Skysphere, an electric convertible that morphs from a luxurious grand tourer to a beastly sports car at the push of a button. This concept is designed by Gael Buzyn and his team to bring an unparalleled driving experience to the streets. The highlight of this concept is its transforming design, featuring an expandable wheelbase that transforms a two-seater convertible into a four-wheeler sportscar, giving you the best of both worlds.
The shape-shifting character of this car is akin to the caterpillar’s morphism to a butterfly. There are actuators behind the front axle that move the car’s front section back and forth to give it 10-inches of shape-shifting advantage. In addition, the steering wheel and pedal shifters retract under the dashboard panel for added luxury while being highlighted by the touchscreen interface panning across the dashboard in the long-wheelbase GT mode. This helps transform the car from a stable GT model to the power-oriented aggressive Sport mode.
1937 Horch Type 853 Sport Cabriolet
Skysphere draws much of its inspiration from the proportions of the legendary classic – 1937 Horch 853 convertible. Audi calls this mind-boggling creation a “reverence without retro.” The Skysphere is a nostalgic nod to the glorious grand touring era but with the infusion of a very modern element. According to Audi, the footprint between the legendary Horch 853 convertible and the Audi Skysphere cars is pretty similar – 5.23 meters in length versus 5.19 and a width of 1.85 versus 2.00 meters, respectively. The concept also gives a nod to the Art-Deco-inspiration with its metallic accents.
The battery pack of the Skysphere is located behind the cabin in a 40:60 front-to-rear weight distribution configuration. The front and rear double-wishbone suspensions help with the overall stability, and the steer-by-wire system comes with a variable-ratio setup for switching between the two modes. According to Audi, the convertible will be capable of going from 0 to 60 mph in under 4 seconds – courtesy of the rear-mounted 624 horsepower (465 kilowatts) electric motor. In addition, it will have a practically achievable range of 310 mph thanks to the 80-kilowatt-hour battery positioned behind the seats.
I can’t help but draw a parallel between this flamboyant electric car with the transformers (Bumblebee might just become a reality) with all the transformations it is making, both on the exterior and interiors. There is no compromise between the two driving configurations – such is the design refinement of this unparalleled concept car by Audi. Is this going to be the foreseeable future of cars whizzing past you in a couple of decades? I bet it is!