The flagship electric offering from Ingolstadt will look radically different and set a new design direction for all future Audi’sby Khris Bharath, on
Here’s a look at Audi’s Grand Sphere Concept, which will usher in the next-gen of the flagship luxury sedan from Ingolstadt. What started as a design exercise three years ago is now ready to be showcased as a concept to take on the likes of other luxury EV’s like the Mercedes Benz EQS, the yet to be announced BMW i7, and the electric Jag XJ.
2021 Audi Grand Sphere Concept - A New Direction for Audi and The Next-Gen A8
Audi set up Project Artemis with a focus on the development of software and platform for its future EVs that are capable of autonomous driving.
The Grand sphere is one of three concepts cars that was developed under the Project Artemis, a company that is now fully integrated into the Audi brand.
As the name suggests, the Grand Sphere idea is an elegant luxury autonomous tourer, ideal for longer trips with the primary focus on comfort. You can mostly find that there is a business-class experience in the second row of most luxury vehicles. The Grand Sphere concept favors that experience, not just in the second row, but also with the first. The carmaker has indeed designed a fairly large and spacious cabin.
Marc Lichte head of design at Audi told Autocar that he wanted his design team to think out of the box when they began working on this project. As this flagship is no longer based on an ICE car in the traditional sense (three-box sedan), designers were given the freedom to come up with something radically different and I feel that they’ve succeeded. The lines on the Grand Sphere give us an impression of a large wagon with suicide doors with an incredibly spacious cabin.
Lichte adds- "For 130 years, vehicles have been designed the same way. First, we designed the engine, then the platform, then the body, and finally the interior design. With the Artemis project, we literally reinvented the way we do things by designing the Grand Sphere concept from the inside out.”
The concept will be very close to the Landjet exercise showcased by Audi in December last year. The car will not just showcase what the flagship successor to the A8 might look like, but it will also give us a clear picture of the design direction that the Audi wants to take with all its future electric vehicles.
Also, because this car is capable of Level 4 autonomous driving, Lichte says, all that the driver has to do is press two buttons, and the steering column and pedals will withdraw into the dash and floor, something that was also seen recently on BMWs Urbanut van. The car is capable of taking over from the driver, especially when conditions permit, such as when driving on the highway.
"It’s a huge car with a mono box design, yet from certain perspectives, the new proportions are reminiscent of a vintage GT," explains Lichte.
The seats up front, which are beautifully contoured chairs, are capable of reclining up to 60 degrees, ensuring a high level of comfort and transforming the interior into a third living space, alongside your home and workplace while the car itself drives autonomously.
Audi has designed a rotary controller present on each door that can be manipulated not just by hand, but also through gesture commands with no need for touch inputs to allow occupants to communicate with the telematics system while the front seats are set to Relax mode and the steering wheel is retracted. A lounge-style bar is also possible on board with the ability for the center console to transform itself.
This prestigious concept car will come with an electric drivetrain. It sits on top of the Volkswagen Group’s SSP architecture. Audi did not specify which sort of electric drivetrain will be employed for the Grand Sphere concept and its subsequent production variant.
However, it’s a good bet that the vehicle will be powered by at least two electric motors, as is the situation with the brand’s current electric models, and possibly even three, with the latest S versions of the e-Tron Quattro and e-Tron Sportback SUVs. It could utilize the VW Groups Unified cell technology that can offer over 370 miles of range. As per Lichte, the car will have a high-capacity battery because it was developed specifically to be a GT for longer journeys.
Audi will soon reveal the Grand Sphere concept, which is one among three new revolutionary concepts from the Project Artemis. The concept car will be shown during a special promotional event at the IAA Mobility venue in Munich in September. The eventual production version will be available to customers by as early as 2025.