Audi’s new EV concept is a totally different take on the term "convertible."
The new Skysphere may look like a traditional convertible roadster, but it’s also able to extend its wheelbase to become a grand tourer. All it takes is the touch of a button, and the Skysphere’s front can either extend or retract by 9.8 inches, and drop by 0.4 inches. It's basically the closest thing to a Transformer humans could make.
- Here are the best electric cars you can buy right now
- Electric cars 2021: All the electric cars coming this year and beyond
- Plus: It's not just Tesla: Report claims all semi-autonomous cars are easily fooled
The Skysphere apparently took inspiration from the 1931 Audi Horch 853. That means it retains the long-low roadster design, with a protruding hood and a laid back cabin. However, it’s also a lot more modern-looking than the Horch, which is very much a car of its time.
Likewise. this is an EV, so gone is an internal combustion engine for a 623-horsepower motor and an 80 kWh battery. According to Audi it can also offer 553 ft lbs of torque, and can go from 0-60 in just four seconds. Range-wise you’d be looking at 310 miles based on the WLTP testing cycle.
Inside, Audi has gone for a cabin that’s meant to evoke the Art Deco designs of the 1930s, albeit with the convenience of modern electronics. Included is level 4 autonomy, which would see the car driving itself where infrastructure allows — though drivers would still be able to take over when necessary.
It’s also been designed to offer a luxury experience, so when the Skysphere is driving itself you’ll be able to sit back and relax in comfort. It even has space for custom luggage, and two sets of golf clubs — showing what kind of person Audi would expect to drive the car if it were real.
Of course there are plenty of reasons why the Skysphere is a concept, and level 4 autonomy is only part of that. After all, we still don’t have Level 3 autonomous cars on the roads, meaning level 4 is still quite a way off.
The transforming nature of the Skysphere, while incredible, isn’t particularly realistic. The car has mechanisms that would literally push the car forward and down to convert it from GT to Roadster mode. Not to mention the fact the car needs to activate active aerodynamics to provide some extra downforces.
And the changes aren’t just on the outside, since the steering wheel, dash and pedals all have to move forward, while the passenger seat moves towards the rear.
All in all that’s a lot of stuff that would need to move, and could potentially go wrong. Maybe we could see a car like this one day, but for the time being it’s firmly in the realm of “concepts we’d like, but can’t have.” I just hope that some of these features actually make it to production cars.
However, Audi isn’t done dreaming just yet, and we can expect two more concept vehicles: the Grandsphere and Urbansphere to arrive in the coming months. We don’t know much about either, but no doubt both will be as outlandish and interesting as the Skysphere.
- More: How long does it take to charge an electric car? What you need to know