Concept Corner | Audi Urbansphere
Audi has revealed the third of its three concept cars developed to ‘showcase its vision for the world of premium mobility of tomorrow.’
Following the sporty roadster Skysphere and equally sleek Grandsphere sedan, the new concept, called the Urbansphere is, as the name suggests, a look at how the company might tackle mobility in metropolitan centres.
In these urban areas, where personal space is in particularly short supply, the concept car offers the largest interior space of any Audi to date and uses technologies and digital services, plus level 4 autonomous vehicle tech – which is why the Urbansphere’s steering wheel, pedals, and conventional dashboard can be hidden during automated driving.
Underneath that big body – which is 5.51m long, 2m wide, and 1.78m high and sits on 24-inch wheels – is the Premium Platform Electric (PPE), developed with Porsche and designed exclusively for battery-electric drive systems.
The key element of the PPE is a battery module between the axles, and in the Urbansphere that battery pack is a whopping 120kWh delivering, Audi claims, up to 750km of range.
There are two electric motors – one on the front and one on the rear axles – that deliver 295kW and 690Nm. And, as is a feature of all Audi’s top-notch cars, there’s quattro four-wheel drive.
One innovative feature is that the motor on the front axle can be deactivated as required in order to reduce friction and conserve energy when coasting.
800-Volt charging technology means the concept can be charged with up to 270kW at fast-charging stations – Audi claims 20 minutes are enough to charge the battery with 300km of juice, and 25 minutes will see a charge from 5 to 80 per cent.
The front wheels are connected via a 5-link axle that has been specially optimised for electric vehicles. In the rear, there is a multi-link axle that, like the front axle, is made of lightweight aluminium. The concept also features air suspension – a single-chamber air suspension system with semi-active damper control – and rear-wheel steering.
On the inside – in an interior replete with materials from sustainable resources – there are four individual seats in two rows. The rear seats offer an interesting range of adjustment options. In Relax and Entertain modes, the backrest can be tilted up to 60 degrees while leg rests extend at the same time. There are centre-mounted armrests integrated into the sides of the seats as well as in the doors.
Those doors are counter-hinged and the seats swivel outwards. The front seats can also be swivelled all the way around so that front and rear passengers are facing each other. Each seat has its own sound zone with speakers in the headrest area, and there are individual monitors built into the backs of the front seats.
When passengers want to use the infotainment system together, there is a large, transparent OLED screen that pivots vertically from the roof area into the zone between the rows of seats.
Between the rear seats – and normally locked in place– is a centre console that swivels upwards and which contains a water dispenser and glasses.
There’s not much a dash up front until the driving functions are activated. At that point, a number of displays are projected onto the surface below the windscreen. In addition, a sensor bar is integrated under the projection surfaces for witching between content – for instance, for music or navigation. There’s also a control feature on the door via which various functions can be accessed via a rotating ring and buttons, and even eye-tracking and gesture control can be used to access certain features if physically pushing buttons it too much of a chore.
There are also VR glasses in the armrests on the left and right doors that can be used in conjunction with infotainment options.
In a concept designed to be a place to relax and enjoy, digital services are available for occupants. Dinner reservations or shopping online can be done from the car, and customised infotainment offerings are also available, including music and video streaming services.
Up front on the exterior there is no traditional grille. Instead, the Urbansphere has a digital light surface. The three-dimensional light structure – called the ‘Audi Light Canvas’ – can be used for communication with dynamic lighting effects.
3 July 2022