► GrandSphere concept points to next A8
► Concept shows Level 4 autonomy can shift interior design
► Interior previewed now, concept debuts in September
Audi's getting brave. Over the course of the next year, the brand will be showing off three new concept cars designed to preview a new generation of 'luxury class' models. These three concept cars all use the word 'sphere' in their nomenclature, with the first teased being the GrandSphere.
CAR understands that the GrandSphere is designed to preview a successor to the A8, and is part of Audi's secretive Project Artemis. Project Artemis is the brand's in-house initiative to develop new electric platforms, architecture and software for a new generation of vehicles. The fruits of Artemis are expected to be shared with Bentley and Porsche, too.
As for the GrandSphere concept itself, it'll be shown in full at the 2021 Munich motor show in early September but, for now, we have some shadowy images of its interior.
So what is Audi actually previewing here?
Audi has explicitly said the GrandSphere previews an entry into the luxury class. Before the full concept reveal, meanwhile, we only have the interior to look at. It's much less of a car cockpit, much more like a lounge.
For the GrandSphere, this shift in focus is designed to show Audi's foresight for Level 4 autonomy-equipped models in the future. The concept has rear-hinged rear doors and no B-pillars, allowing a massive aperture for getting in and out. Four seats are fitted – each able to slide and recline – with a large central tunnel. A steering wheel is also visible, with the ability to fold away when the car enters its self-driving mode.
You mentioned other 'sphere' concepts?
Yes. Audi will also reveal the 'SkySphere' during 2021's Monterey Car Week event. Given the name, we suspect this will be a large convertible model.
Then, in the first half of 2022, Audi will debut the UrbanSphere concept – a third show car that's designed more for the city environment, without losing that luxury edge.
Audi says that, unlike the AI:CON and AI:ME concepts, these 'sphere' concepts aren't designed to be far-future 'what if?' flights of fancy, but an early look at what the brand is planning for this age of Level 4 autonomy; 'they are presenting lines, technologies and spaces for experience that are expected to turn up again in the mid-2020s in initial serial cars from Audi,' the brand says.
We'll update this story with more when we get it.