in ,

Audi Activesphere Is a Mighty Morphin’ EV Coupe That’s Also a Pickup

The tall coupe-like body of the electric concept is changed into a sporty, all-terrain pickup, and the interior technology is relocated into the virtual realm.

The Active sphere concept, an electric tall coupe that can instantly convert from a sporty and autonomous long-range highway cruiser to an off-road go-anywhere truck, represents Audi’s new vision for future electrified driving.

The Sky sphere roadster with its adjustable wheelbase, the Grand sphere massive D-segment sedan, and the Urban sphere compact MPV with plenty of internal space are the first three in a series of sphere-themed concepts. The Active sphere is the fourth in this series. The suffix relates to Audi’s meta-concept of design “spheres,” where the interior space and even structure of the vehicle shape around the demands of the occupants, rather than being literally spherical in shape.

Transforming chassis

The Active sphere is a stylish four-door sport back that takes design cues from Audi’s All road lineup of lifted wagons. It also has a roofline that resembles a coupe and a higher ride height. The new concept’s footprint is broadly identical to that of the A6 E-Tron concept, measuring 196 inches long by 81.5 inches wide with a longish 117-inch wheelbase, but it’s noticeably taller at 63 inches overall.

Passengers can now gaze down and see the road moving under them thanks to a transparent glass panel that has taken the place of Audi’s iconic single frame grill up front. The concept’s nearly entirely glass ceiling and glass doors allow the already roomy cabin feel even more open.

Audi Activesphere Is a Transforming All-Terrain EV

The Active sphere is kind of a transformer in its own right, similar to the Sky sphere design, which could extend its wheelbase as needed to switch between sport and grand touring modes. For improved off-road performance, the idea can raise its chassis by 1.6 inches in just a few seconds, bringing its 8.2 inch ride height up to 9.8 inches. And this isn’t simply a straightforward suspension lift. The body of the Active sphere extends vertically as well, revealing a thicker lower sill design and increasing the approach and departure angles by 18.9 and 28.1 degrees, respectively.

The design has huge 22-inch wheels with movable pieces that may be closed to increase aerodynamics for high on-road speeds or opened to increase ventilation for low-speed off-road travel. For both roads and trails, the chunky Pirelli Active Tread 285/22 R22 provides contact patches.

Even the sport back hatch can be customized. A fold-down tailgate, a rear glass that slides forward to sit flush with the roof, and a mid gate divider that folds up to split the cabin from the bed enable the back storage compartment to change into a compact pickup truck bed on demand. The compact bed can hold two sets of golf clubs or a pair of mountain bikes thanks to built-in mounting points and tie-downs. The roof of the Active sphere incorporates ski or snowboard rack attachment points when it is closed.

Augmented reality, automated driving

The Active sphere’s interior is astonishingly uncluttered, including four independently suspended seats and a wraparound console with a strong sound bar but absolutely no screens. In the default configuration of the Active sphere, there isn’t even a steering wheel; there is only a tiny, single-line display that shows speed and battery charge. Two tiny knobs that appear to serve as door handles are the only physical controls.

Due to the Active sphere’s usage of virtual displays that are viewed through mixed reality glasses and hand-tracked gesture controllers, Audi was able to do away with the physical screens. The cockpit lights up with three-dimensional displays, topographical maps, and more as soon as you put on the extremely basic AR sunglasses, which are far smaller than the best mixed-reality goggles I’ve ever used. Additional layers of virtual functionality are added to the physical controls, and you can even “grab” the controls and transfer them nearly anywhere in the cabin you desire.

This is what Audi refers to as a Level 4 autonomous concept, meaning it can operate without a steering wheel. The idea will bring you there if you simply plot your course in the mixed reality interface. The Active sphere may deploy a steering wheel when necessary for piloted driving because the automaker is aware that there may be situations where you’d prefer to operate the vehicle yourself. When a human is in charge, mixed reality also contributes by providing specific information about the execution of the notion.

Quattro electric drive

The Active sphere’s changing chassis and mixed reality cabin are outlandish concepts for the time being, but its electric drivetrain is built on genuine, commercially viable technology. The idea is built using a modified version of Audi and Porsche’s Premium Platform Electric electric vehicle design.

The concept’s independent Quattro electric all-wheel drive system is made up of two electric motors, one for the front axle and one for the rear, and it has a combined output of 409 horsepower (305 kilowatts) and 531 pound-feet of torque. The Audi believes that the concept’s range will be roughly 373 miles thanks to a sizable 100 kWh battery pack. The 800-volt architecture’s capacity to consume a DC fast charge at 270 kW should make charging swift as well. This is fast enough to add 186 miles with a 10-minute session or a 25-minute boost from 5% to 80%.

Audi is currently only letting its designers experiment with new ideas. The carmaker presently has no plans to build a vehicle based on the concepts exhibited in the Active sphere, but we might someday see this tall-coupe silhouette or specific design elements in subsequent production and concept cars.

When questioned, Josef Scholl smasher, Audi Communication, replies, “We at Audi never say never, but the Audi Active sphere is at the moment a pure concept vehicle and no decisions have been made regarding series production,” before adding, “At the moment there are no other projects [in Audi’s portfolio] with such a pickup body.”

The first production electric vehicles to rely on the PPE platform will be the future Audi A6 and Q6 E-Tron models and the Porsche Machan EV. Later this year, we anticipate learning more about their production debuts.