Audi just announced its latest concept car, the off-road-ready Activesphere.
As its name suggests, it's part of the Sphere family of concepts, which kicked off back in 2021 with the Skysphere and Grandsphere and grew with the arrival of the Urbansphere in 2022. However, while the three concepts that preceded it showcase vehicles, Audi could conceivably translate into production models; the Active Sphere is different.
It's the brainchild of Audi's Malibu-based Design Studio, and it theorizes a high-riding crossover complete with off-roading tires and suspension as well as level four autonomous driving and virtual reality glasses.
According to Oliver Hoffmann, a Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development, the concept's goal is to "show our vision for the premium mobility of the future. We are experiencing a paradigm shift, especially in the interior of our future Audi models...The most important technical innovation in the Audi Activesphere is our adaptation of augmented reality for mobility. Audi dimensions creates the perfect synthesis between the surroundings and digital reality."
The key here is augmented reality, autonomous driving, and an interior-focused way of building cars. Look at the Activesphere's interior, and you won't see traditional buttons or an infotainment screen. Instead, the concept employs augmented reality glasses to display your relevant driving information such as navigation, speed, state of charge, etc. However, with level four autonomous driving on board, the Activesphere can hide all of its drive controls by folding its steering wheel out of the way.
When referring to a paradigm shift to the interiors of the future, Hoffmann seems to allude to a potential future where cars are fully autonomous. With no driving required from its passengers, a vehicle would have to offer more in its interior to keep its occupants entertained. The Activesphere conceptualizes a vehicle with less transportation and more of a lounge.
Tech aside, the Activesphere is a stunning take on an off-roading crossover. While it's still a high-riding machine, its sloping roofline and sleek lines make it far more elegant than its contemporary equivalents. It combines luxury, sportiness, and off-road capabilities like the Porsche 911 Dakar and Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato. This recent trend seems to imply significant demand for capable machines that are still luxurious.
The Activesphere is 16.3 ft long, 6.7 ft wide, and 5.2 ft tall and has a 9.7-ft long wheelbase. It has 22-in wheels on all four corners with 285/55 off-roading tires. In keeping with its adventurous theme, it has a variable ride height. It starts at 8.1 in, but can increase by 1.5 in when needed. The Activesphere retains approach and departure angles of 18.9 and 28.1 degrees, thanks to its short front and rear overhang.
It’s powered by two electric motors, one in each axle, which combined deliver 436 hp, and 531 lb-ft of torque. A 100 kWh battery pack sits between the axles and provides a perfectly flat floor. Like the carmaker’s current e-tron GT, the Activesphere features 800-volt charging technology, which can charge at up to 270 kW. Audi estimates that around 10 minutes is enough to get up to 186 miles of range.
While its exterior is sleek, the Activesphere hides more than a few secrets, like the fact that it's a pickup with a properly usable bed in the back. Its rear glass slides upward onto the roof, and a small tailgate comes down, providing additional storage and cargo capacity for sporting gear such as bicycles. The roof also has secret attachments like the snowboard holders that deploy when needed.
It's clear that Audi sees a future where the demand for crossovers extends beyond just a large, cozy daily driver. The Activesphere theorizes a luxurious EV with proper off-roading capabilities. While much of its tech isn't currently available at the time of writing, it appears the German carmaker has its fingers on the pulse. If they were to put something like this into production today, with a fixed steering wheel and no autonomy, they wouldn't be able to produce them quickly enough.