Audi at the ongoing International Motor Show Germany 2021 (IAA 2021) unveiled the grandsphere, the second of its three “sphere” concept cars, and which is billed as a “private jet for the road.” Like a first-class flight, the 5.35-meter-long (17.6 ft.) grandsphere sedan promotes the luxury of private travel.
Following the introduction of the Audi skysphere — a concept grand touring roadster which can alter the length of its wheelbase — in early August, the new grandsphere arrives offering Level 4 automated driving. When set to this mode, the car’s interior turns into a spacious lounge that does not have a steering wheel, pedals or displays.
The two concept cars, along with the Audi urbansphere which will complete the sphere concept trio upon its release in 2022, all have Level 4 automated driving ability, as well as electric powertrains.
The technology platform of the grandsphere, known as the Premium Platform Electric (PPE), was conceived exclusively for battery-powered electric drive systems. The key element of PPE is a battery module — it holds around 120 kWh of energy in the grandsphere — located between the axles. The layout allows for a spacious interior, while the absence of a gearbox cover and a cardan tunnel create even more room.
Paired with the PPE is Audi’s electric quattro drive system. The grandsphere has two electric motors, with each mounted on the front and rear axles to deliver all-wheel drive on demand and to ensure a perfect balance between driving dynamics and energy efficiency. The grandsphere’s electric motors produce a total output of 530 kW and 960 Nm of torque.
The grandsphere’s cabin is defined by a natural-colored, minimalist interior. It has clearly articulated and sedate areas marked by wood and wool, synthetic textile fabrics and metal. Many of these materials, like the hornbeam veneers, come from sustainable cultivation or are made from recycled raw materials. There is no leather in the grandsphere as the model promotes sustainable luxury.
Also, no instruments or black screens for virtual displays are visible before the grandsphere’s driving functions are activated. As the car comes to life at the touch of a fingertip, the displays are projected on wooden surfaces under the windshield. Depending on the driving status (manual with a steering wheel or Level 4 autonomy), the displays are either distributed across the entire width of the interior or segmented for the driver and front seat passenger. When Level 4 mode is chosen, the projection surfaces can be used as CinemaScope screens for infotainment or for video conferences.