It looks like an off-road sports car, so what form will the production version take?
As Audi moves towards an electric future, and one in which autonomous driving is a reality, the German automaker has showcased a trio of 'sphere' concepts previewing that future. But it has now teased a fourth concept within the same grouping ahead of a reveal early in 2023. This will be called the Audi activesphere - lower case intended.
Audi promised it would bring all three of its current sphere concepts, plus the quattro S1 Pikes Peak car built for Ken Block to this year's Pebble Beach event at the Monterey Car Week. But instead of showcasing the activesphere here, Audi has provided just a single shadowy teaser you see below. As its name and visible ride height imply, this final concept will be perfect for an active lifestyle.
While none of these sphere concepts (which have been introduced since 2021) are slated for production, we could imagine something like the activesphere could morph into an all-electric Audi A6 allroad in the future.
Audi says the car will "offer maximum variability for an active lifestyle - both on and off pavement," hinting that the activesphere will be built with off-road capability in mind. The chunky off-road tires, body cladding, and what appear to be running boards/rock rails of sorts support this notion.
Curiously, this doesn't appear to be a traditional off-roader though, but rather a sultry coupe. It does seem rather long, however, so could conceivable seat four occupants. The slim headlights and pointed snout almost convey sports car proportions. Audi has used off-road concepts to preview sports cars in the past, as it did with the TT offroad concept in 2014.
While the information was kept scant, Audi reaffirmed something we already know - all sphere concepts are electric and designed to be capable of autonomous driving. That's the case even for concepts that celebrate driving like the skysphere, which was a shapeshifting roadster serving dual purposes as both sports car and relaxed autonomous GT. So this will be electric and will have the option of autonomy - which somewhat detracts from the off-road experience, in our opinion.
As a preview of Audi's future, the activesphere will probably debut new tech and design elements we can look forward to on future e-tron models. Audi has reaffirmed that its US model lineup will be 30% electrified by 2025, including fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The company already sells hybrid versions of the Q5 and A7 and EVs in the form of the Q4 e-tron, e-tron, and e-tron GT, but is set to add more all-electric models including an A6 e-tron and an electric R8 supercar successor. Audi's previous sphere concepts give us a decent idea of the design direction for future EVs.
The aforementioned skysphere was the first one to be revealed and is still our favorite of the bunch. The car will theoretically travel 310 miles on a charge and hit 60 mph in around four seconds but will provide a duality of drive or be driven.
On the other end of the concept spectrum, the urbansphere focuses on interior space with a more practical package, hinting at a future SUV model. This is the largest Audi interior ever crafted, making it perfect for comfortable lounging, which could become a reality in the rumored Q9 flagship SUV.
The grandsphere is positioned squarely in the middle, which makes sense since it was the second of the three to debut. This concept previews an all-electric flagship sedan that can make its wheel and pedals disappear with a Level 4 autonomous driving mode. The grandsphere is 17.6 feet long, making it longer than the current A8 sedan.
Th activesphere could yet be the most exciting though, so roll on 2023.