Audi activesphere concept goes official

27 January 2023, 05:52:59

Audi activesphere concept goes officialFollowing on from the Audi skysphere roadster in 2021, and both the Audi grandsphere sedan, and the Audi urbansphere space concept in April 2022, a four-door crossover coupé with an astonishingly versatile body design is now making its debut. By combining opposites in perfect synthesis, the Audi activesphere proves to be a versatile crosser of boundaries, with a drive system and suspension which make it equally adept on both on and off the road. The steering wheel and pedals allow the driver to actively control the car, while also offering autonomous driving for a more relaxed time on the road. As a coupé that is as elegant as it is dynamic, it features classic proportions and lines, but in just a few seconds, the car transforms into a pickup for transporting top-class sports gear – there is even enough space for two e-bikes in the cargo bed.

Its dimensions – 4.98 meters long, 2.07 meters wide, and 1.60 meters high – make the Audi activesphere concept a member of the premium segment. Typical of an electric car, the wheelbase is a generous 2.97 meters, providing maximum legroom for passengers. The front and rear overhangs are correspondingly short for a much more compact impression than the mere numbers indicate. From all perspectives, the Audi activesphere concept appears monolithic, as if from a single mold.

Large 22-inch wheels and striking ground clearance, the flat cabin so typical of an Audi, and a dynamic roof arch give the car proportions that are distinctly reminiscent of a sports car. The 285/55 tires are voluminous enough for all types of terrain, and their contoured tread highlights the activesphere’s talent for off-road use. The wheels feature movable segments: when used off-road, they open for optimum ventilation, and they close on-road for optimum aerodynamics. The elegant, stylish camera mirrors on the two front doors are also designed specifically to minimize drag.

The Audi activesphere’s ground clearance is also variable; ideal for off-road use, it can be increased by 40 millimeters from the basic height of 208 millimeters, or lowered by the same amount when driving on-road. This benefits both the center of gravity and aerodynamics when driving fast. The approach angle of the Audi activesphere – relevant for off-road drives – is 18.9 degrees, the departure angle 28.1 degrees.

The activesphere marks the first time that a car with a Sportback hatchback incorporates the design elements and technical equipment of an allroad. For this reason, Audi calls the new body variant “active Sportback” in contrast to the allroad. Another new variation of the allroad theme – the Audi activesphere concept features dark, high-gloss paint finishes in Arctic Teal on the front and rear as well as underneath the doors in the side area, plus matte surfaces that visually juxtapose the floor assembly and cabin. Metal strips with slightly offset vertical studs, arranged parallel to one another, are integrated here. These elements deploy when the ground clearance is increased, visualizing the off-road mode.

Glass surfaces make up a significant part of the vehicle’s body – and by no means just at head height. The front end of the activesphere features the brand face, the Singleframe, designed as a transparent glazing to afford passengers an unobstructed view through the large frunk of the road in front of the vehicle. There are also glass surfaces on the side in the lower door area, which seem to dissolve the boundary between the natural world and the interior when the activesphere is in off-road mode. The wide, curved tailgate features extensive glazing for optimum lighting, whilst even the roof itself is transparent, letting plenty of daylight into the interior.

Right and left above the Singleframe, the narrow headlight units appear like focused eyes. The lighting units echo the logo of the brand with the four rings by enlarging and isolating the intersection of two rings to form a pupil – a new, unmistakable digital light signature that Audi first introduced in the Audi grandsphere: the Audi eye. In the activesphere, this signature is now varied – on-road and off-road driving modes each have their own variant. Daytime running lights and rear lights use ultra-fine micro-LED technology for even greater precision and contrast.

The epitome of clarity and tidiness – this is the first impression for passengers as they climb into the interior of the Audi activesphere through the wide-open doors. Vertical and horizontal surfaces, along with right angles dominate the architecture of the space. The interior zones feature horizontal contrasting coloring and the reigning centerpiece is the seating surfaces and door and front paneling in warm lava red, which contrast with the dark exterior even when looking through the side windows. Above and below this central zone, dark colors (black, anthracite, and dark gray) also dominate.

The four individual seats are suspended like extensions of the high, full-length center console. Resting on the center console, the upper end of the seat shell’s inner side is shaped horizontally as an armrest. The designers imagined the seat, back, and shoulder surfaces as three separate, circumferential shells; the visual appearance alone already promises good lateral support. They also appear so light as to float and thus maintain the balance between automotive function and the elegance of a lounge chair.

When the Audi activesphere concept is driving in autonomous mode, the dashboard, steering wheel, and pedals disappear into an invisible position. Especially in the first row of seats, a wide space opens in front of the driver, which extends to the front end of the activesphere – and beyond. For a clear field of vision, the fully glazed Singleframe gives passengers an unobstructed view of the road in front.

The dashboard itself works like a xlarge soundbar (through the wood lammels) as well as a smart, full width airvent in both the deployed and stowed position. If the driver wants to take over the wheel, the dashboard, along with the steering wheel, swivels out from its flush position below the windshield – each driver can adjust the ideal ergonomic position individually. The MMI touchless controls in the doors are always accessible to the eye and the hand,for example to control windows and seat adjustments.

The architecture and sense of space in the Audi activesphere are largely determined by the high, full-length center console. Of course, in electric cars the console is no longer needed to hold a cardan shaft, but instead offers space for storage and an on-board bar – either cooled or heated. The top cover is transparent, which provides a view of the bottle and glasses, but also visually integrates the voluminous console in the interior. Additionally, there is a console in the roof, directly above the center console and reflecting its dimensions, where the four AR headsets for the mixed reality system are kept within easy reach for all passengers.

Like the related Audi grandsphere and Audi urbansphere concept cars, the activesphere concept draws on PPE modular system for series production. It is being developed under Audi’s leadership together with Porsche AG – the first Audi production vehicles based on PPE will be presented, one after the other, before the end of 2023.

The PPE is designed exclusively for battery-electric drive systems and can therefore take full advantage of all the benefits of this technology – for the betterment of the cars’ driving characteristics, economy, and package options.

As a result, Audi can effectively expand the range of electric vehicles in its portfolio via the high-volume B- and C-segments. In addition, economies of scale will allow luxury-class technology and various different model versions to be incorporated into a wide-ranging lineup of models unrivaled in the premium market.

The key element of the future PPE fleet is a battery module between the axles; in the Audi activesphere concept, it holds around 100 kWh of energy for up to 600 km of range. Using the entire car width between the axles makes it possible to achieve a relatively flat layout for the battery. Electric motors on the front and rear axles of the all-wheel drive Audi activesphere concept together deliver a total output of 325 kW and a system torque of 720 Newton meters. The front and rear wheels are connected via a five-link axle. The concept car features Audi adaptive air suspension with adaptive dampers.

The heart of the drive technology in all future PPE models will be the 800-volt charging technology. This ensures that the battery, like the one in the Audi e-tron GT quattro before it, can be charged with up to 270 kW in a very short time at fast-charging stations. This revolutionary technology will enter the high-volume mid-range and luxury segments with the PPE for the very first time.

The PPE technology enables charging times that come close to a conventional refueling stop for a combustion engine car. Just 10 minutes is sufficient time to take enough energy on board to power the car for more than 300 kilometers. And in less than 25 minutes, the 100 kWh battery charges from 5 to 80 percent. Together with its range of well over 600 kilometers, the Audi activesphere thus positions itself as unconditionally suitable for long distances, when need be.

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