Audi activesphere Concept Previews the Future of Audi SUVs

Audi activesphere concept in Arctic Teal

Is it just me, or does the Audi activesphere concept seem like a cross between the RS e-tron Q rally car and the current A6 Allroad?

Audi this week revealed its fourth and final concept vehicle in the sphere series, the activesphere. That is, for those paying close attention, four sphere concepts representing Audi’s four rings. A roadster. Sedan. Urban utility vehicle. And now a Sportback crossover born for both the streets and rugged offroading.

“Conceived and designed at the Audi Design Studio in Malibu,” California, under the direction of studio manager Gael Buzyn, the activesphere is almost the same external dimensions and wheelbase as the Audi A6. But it’s built on the Premium Platform Electric, or PPE, platform. “The activesphere is unique,” said Buzyn. “It is a new type of crossover that cleverly combines the elegance of an Audi Sportback, the practicality of an SUV, and true offroad capabilities.” The PPE platform is modular in nature, allowing it to be scaled and configured for a variety of SUVs, CUVs, and cars. Audi plans to use this platform for its forthcoming high-volume vehicles.

top - Audi activesphere concept i

Featuring dual electric motors, the activesphere concept outputs roughly 435hp and 530 ft-lbs of peak torque. Between the e-motor axles, Audi engineers placed a 100kwh battery package along with an 800-volt charging system. Connected to a 270 kW DC fast charger, Audi says the concept can charge from 5% to 80% in under 25 minutes. It sits four passengers and features an all-glass panoramic roof.

Audi activesphere Concept Quick Specs

  • Dual electric motors
  • Horsepower: 435hp (325 kW)
  • Torque: 530 ft-lbs (720 Newton meters)
  • Range: 372.8 miles (600 km)
  • Charging: Up to 270 kWh DC Fast Charging, 5-80% in under 25 minutes
  • Dimensions: 16.33′ long x 6.79′ wide x 5.25′ tall (4.98 m long x 2.07 m wide x 1.60 m high)
  • Wheels: 22″
  • Tires: 285/55-22

Cool Tech

interior - Audi activesphere concept in Arctic Teal

Much like the current generation A6 Alllroad, the activesphere boasts an air spring suspension with variable ground clearance. Meaning, with the push of a button, the activesphere lifts from a “basic height” of 8.19 inches (208mm) to 9.76 inches (248mm). This results in 18.9 degrees of approach angle and 28.1 degrees of departure angle for hitting the trails. Not exactly Jeep or Bronco numbers, mind you, but similar to what Ford’s been doing with its F-150 Tremor.

Perhaps most intriguing, especially for the adventurous types, is the activesphere’s transforming “variable rear architecture.” To oversimply the engineering involved, a swooping rear glass panel slides forward while the rear folds down like a truck tailgate. Audi dubs it the “active back,” and it creates enough room to mount gear like bicycles. (It’ll be super interesting to see if this feature makes it to a production vehicle.)

Audi activesphere concept in Arctic Teal

Lastly, the activesphere utilizes augmented reality to allow the driver and passengers to interact with the vehicle’s user interface — infotainment, navigation, and HVAC — using only eye or hand gestures. The system also projects information into the real world. As an example, Audi says that, while off-roading, this glasses-based system will show the driver 3D topography of the terrain while also delivering information about one’s destination. (This sounds like a next-level version of the system we tested in the Q4 e-tron that projects animated navigation directions in the head-up display.) Audi says its AR glasses can also be used independently of the vehicle in activities like mountain biking or skiing.

Opinion – AudiWorld First Impressions

Each of the four sphere concept vehicles is a gorgeous thesis of design and engineering. And, while my heart will always be with sports cars, the activesphere is certainly an attention grabber. It’s also, I would argue, the closest to what we might see in a future production Audi as well as a thorough preview of where Audi will take its all-electric SUVs and crossovers.

The silhouette is very classically Audi Sportback — it looks like a lifted RS 7 or a street-going version of the RS e-tron Q that recently competed in Dakar. And then when you throw in the Allroad styling and variable height suspension that we currently see in Audi wagons, the activesphere feels very plausible and possible.

Because, let’s face it, as much as I adore Audi cars, the Q5 is the brand’s top seller. Mid-sized. Mid-priced. With extra performance and luxury for those who want to upgrade. Therefore, Audi, as it transitions to its all-electric future, needs killer SUVs that demand attention visually, perform on and off road, and deliver a premium, luxury interior. And this activesphere seems to accomplish all of this and more.

Audi activesphere concept in Arctic Teal

In particular, I love the way Audi’s Malibu design team has approached aerodynamics without sacrificing style. Contrast this with the current generation Q4 e-tron. Which, in my humble (not a designer) opinion looks almost like a NASCAR race car. In the sense that OEMs wrap the body with a sticker that kinda looks like the real thing. In that sense, the Q4’s grille seems massive (and it doesn’t even need to exist). And Audi’s current muscular front end appears like it’s been stretched onto a balloon.

The activesphere manages to take current Audi design language and update/elevate it into the EV space, while producing something that looks sporty and elegant. (Dare we compare it to something from Aston Martin or Porsche?)

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The Full Premiere

If you’d like to see and hear more about the Audi activesphere concept directly from Audi, here’s the full World Premier video presentation that streamed live earlier this week.

Father. Writer. Photographer. Auto enthusiast.
Current Stable: 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302, 2013 Cadillac ATS-4 3.6, LS3-Swapped 1992 Buick Roadmaster Wagon, 1987 Mercury Cougar XR-7, and usually a Press Loaner.