► New UrbanSphere concept car revealed
► 460+-mile range, Level 4 autonomy
► Grandiose interior with lounge seating
This has to be the weirdest-looking Audi concept for quite some time, right? It’s the new UrbanSphere – the third of three concept cars from Ingolstadt under the ‘sphere’ umbrella. It follows on from the rakish SkySphere convertible and flashy GrandSphere grand tourer.
The Level 4 autonomous-ready UrbanSphere has been designed to integrate into a the megacity of the future, and has been ‘designed by China, for China,’ even if the brand’s higher-ups think the car could be applied to other markets around the world. It runs the VW Group’s new PPE platform underneath, and Audi says it’s the largest concept car the brand has ever made.
It looks like an MPV…
It does, doesn’t it? Of course, Audi don’t want you to use that MPV word, but it’s not exactly that much of a pioneering design perspective when you think about it: make the car as square as possible to squeeze in as much room as you can, fill it full of lounge seats and futuristic materials and call it a day. But Audi says there’s more to it than that.
Naturally, given it’s an Audi, LED lighting has been scatter-gunned across the front and rear ends, giving the UrbanSphere the capability of not only showing the usual suite of lighting functions but displays to other road users its intentions, given its autonomous capabilities. Audi calls this the ‘Light Canvas’.
The interior takes significant influences from the GrandSphere concept, with a huge wraparound wooden panel with screens glowing through the veneers. There are four huge armchairs inside that recline and swivel – accompany these with the rear-hinged rear doors and no B-pillar and you’ve got something that’s supremely easy to get in and out of.
Sustainable materials, including bamboo and a material called econyl – a recycled nylon – are used inside, as well as a foldable roof-mounted OLED display for entertaining yourself en route to your destination.
Any performance specs?
It’ll all feel a little familiar if you’ve been keeping up to date with the ruminations of Audi’s design and engineering departments for the last few years. The UrbanSphere runs on the PPE platform, with the brand saying it features a 120kWh battery pack with an 800-volt architecture, a motor on each axle and 270kW charging speeds. Here, the UrbanSphere rides on air springs and has 24-inch wheels designed to look like those seen on the Avus concept of the 90s.
The UrbanSphere, while still just a concept, claims performance figures of 396bhp and 509lb ft, and claims a range of 466 miles on a single charge.
When will it be real?
Well, this one’s up for much more debate than something like the next-gen A8-previewing GrandSphere. But, the PPE platform is real, and some of the car’s design elements are ready for production now, so never say never…
What do you think of Audi’s vision of tomorrow’s motoring? Share your hopes and fears in the comments box below.