Audi Grandsphere Debuts at IAA 2021

Audi Grandsphere Debuts at IAA 2021

Even with its impressive 720 HP electric-only powertrain, the futuristic cabin of Audi grandsphere is the star of the show.

The Ingolstadt-based automaker unveiled its grandsphere concept study at the IAA 2021 yesterday. This is the second installment of the three “sphere” concepts that Audi has been working on. The design of grandsphere concept aims to offer the comfort of luxurious private travel. As a result of this, grandsphere gets one of the most futuristic cabins we’ve ever seen. That’s not all, because Level 4 automated driving capability is also part of the package. This means grandsphere can cruise on freeways and maneuver through heavy traffic conditions with minimum human intervention.

A 120 kWh battery pack powers the grandsphere, and according to Audi, the concept can deliver 470 miles of range.  Customers can recharge the massive battery pack from 5% to 80% capacity in just 25 minutes, courtesy of its 800-volt fast-charging capability. Furthermore, the EV gets a dual-motor setup (one on each axle), and the electric-only powertrain produces 720 HP of power and 708 lb-ft of peak torque.

Sharp creases offset grandsphere’s curvaceous bodywork. The front-end is dominated by a flat hexagonal faux grille that lights up and houses the sensors for grandsphere’s autonomous driving system. The lighting units in the headlights are designed to emulate Audi’s four-ring logo. Audi’s Avus concept from the 1990s inspired the design of grandsphere’s gorgeous 23-inch rims.

Audi Grandsphere Debuts at IAA 2021

Futuristic interior space that offers a luxurious onboard experience

Audi grandsphere’s interior is its pièce de résistance. The car’s steering wheel, instrument display, and pedals retract when the car is in autonomous driving mode, to give occupants more cabin space. The car does not have any B-pillars, and the rear doors open backward, which makes it easy to get in and out of the vehicle.

The infotainment system of grandsphere makes large touchscreen units look antiquated. The concept car uses projectors to display images onto the wooden dashboard. Passengers can control the system with hand gestures and eye movements. The EV’s cabin comes equipped with a drinks cooler that slides out of the center console, which also houses a plant.

Audi has confirmed that its production cars will eventually receive the technologies that are debuting in the grandsphere concept study. The grandsphere concept will offer the foundation for Audi’s flagship sedans in the future. The German automaker’s next concept car will be the Audi urbansphere which will premiere sometime next year.

Image Source: Audi

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Official: New Audis to be All-Electric Starting in 2026

Audi e-tron Line

Audi’s Vorsprung 2030 strategy puts a firm date on the company’s exit from internal combustion.

We knew this was coming. Audi officially ceased internal combustion development in March, and back in June, German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported  Ingolstadt would stop introducing new gas and diesel cars in 2026. At the time, I wondered how just much wiggle room the company had left itself between ending development of ICE vehicles and the end of their production. And as it turns out? There’s quite a lot of daylight between those two goalposts.

According to Audi’s just-released Vorsprung 2030 strategy, the last internal combustion-powered machines will roll off the assembly lines in 2033, which is still more than a decade away. Now, it’s important to remember that in the automotive world, that’s an eternity. Ten years ago, the Hellcat was still a twinkle in the eyes of the mad scientists at Ma Mopar, and the horsepower wars which have so shaped our recent history were still shaping up. Performance-wise, it was a different world.

So from where I’m sitting, 2033 seems like an awfully long time, and I have to wonder exactly which Audi models will be the last to feature conventional powertrains. The R8, and its glorious 562-horsepower V10 is slated to bow in 2023, and I can’t imagine the twin-turbo RS 6 Avant will remain as compelling — at least performance-wise — for another 12 years. Perhaps we’ll see an even more ferocious e-tron wagon? Because that’s progress I could get seriously get behind. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the market pushes Audi to kill internal combustion sooner. Because if buyers start gravitating toward green machines in a big way, it might not make sense to continue with the older tech.

Aside from the 2026 and 2033 dates, Audi’s Vorsprung 2030 document is a pretty standard corporate communication. That means it’s essentially melatonin in text form, and packed to the gills with ten-dollar marketing speak — “holistic mobility solutions,”  “cloud connectivity,” “autonomous driving” — and assertions about profitability. So yup, it’s dull enough that reading it aloud could be an effective tool for disciplining children. It’ll likely be more illuminating a decade from now. But until then, enjoy the sound of the R8 wailing on the dyno.

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2022 Audi RS 3 Snatches Nürburgring Class Record from Renault

2022 Audi RS 3

In the sport compact class, the red-hot 2022 Audi RS 3 is the new king of the Ring — and it wasn’t even close.

Given everything we’ve heard about the 2022 Audi RS 3, you didn’t have to be Nostradamus to predict it was going to be quick. Now, we know just how quick Ingolstadt’s new pocket rocket is. Because back in June, factory hot shoe Frank Stippler laid down a blistering time of 7:40.748 minutes, and smashed the compact car record. That beat the previous record — set by Renault using a Mégane R.S. Trophy-R — by nearly five seconds, so smashed is hardly hyperbole.

For safety reasons, the RS 3 in question was fitted with a roll cage and racing seats, which likely made it slightly heavier than bone stock versions. But aside from those concessions to the dangerous beast that’s the Green Hell, the car was stock, down to the Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R semi-slicks it was shod with for the lap. For track rats, they’ll be a must-have option, and according to Stippler, ensuring the proper pressures in the super-sticky rubber was key to the victory.

In the official press release, Technical Project Leader Marvin Schwätter didn’t specify exactly how tweaked the PSI was from the standard settings. For new owners headed to the circuit, that’d be a handy piece of info, so perhaps it’ll come out in the wash. Another key to the run was the trick torque splitter at the rear, which during corners, pipes twist to the outer wheels. This is the first time such a system has been employed on an Audi, and the distribution of power ensures both understeer and oversteer are kept in check.

According to Stippler, the multi-disc clutch system is “a quantum leap in terms of agile driving,” and given its success on the circuit, something we’re sure to see on future Audi models. Of course, other go-fast bits like adaptive dampers, ceramic brakes, and aggressive RS Performance modes were part of the package too, and help demonstrate just how potent the new RS 3 is when the gloves comes off. Watch the video below, and remember that buyers in the States aren’t left out of the fun. So stay tuned for info on when this record-beating sport compact will be available on our shores!

Photos: Audi

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Audi skysphere Concept Set for Reveal August 10th

Audi Sky Sphere Concept

Car design is entering exciting new territory — and Audi’s skysphere concept is a glimpse of what to expect.

Last month, we wrote about the hat trick of wild concept cars Audi is set to release over the next year. And now, we know the wraps will come off the first design exercise on August 10th. Dubbed the skysphere, the darkened profile in the teaser shows a long hood, space for two, an open top, and some gloriously pointy hindquarters. Given that this is a concept car, and not destined for production, pesky little things like pedestrian safety regulations aren’t really a concern.

In the video below, Audi senior vice president Henrik Wenders and design chief Marc Lichte share that the inspiration for the futuristic ride came from the gorgeous Horch 853A. If you’re looking to create a GT masterpiece? That’s hardly a bad place to start, but in keeping with Audi’s pivot toward electric vehicles, all the concepts will be pure electric. So the long hood is a bit of puzzler. My guess is that the car rides on a skateboard-style chassis with motors at each corner, which would leave the space free for passenger luggage.

That’s presuming it’ll be able to move under its own power, of course, which many concepts don’t. What will presumably function are the trick banks of lights in the front fascial and rear section. Upon the reveal, I’ll expect to see some shock and awe from these set ups, as lighting is one of the next frontiers in automotive design. But what I’m really stoked to check out is the cabin, which will have the capability to transform from a cockpit to a lounge, where drivers can either control the machine or let the autopilot take over.

At this point, the skysphere concept is still largely a mystery. But it will certainly speak to the challenges and opportunities facing the folks who’ll design the next generation of personal transport. Because in the next few decades, the rulebook that’s defined car design is going to be thrown out the window, and we’re all going to get a chance to see what engineers and artisans can do with a truly clean sheet design.

Check out the video to for more about the philosophy behind this concept — and stay tuned for the reveal next month!

Photos: Audi

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The New Audi RS3: Specs and Gallery

2022 Audi RS 3

The new Audi RS 3 has been revealed — and it’s a triple threat of power, style and practicality.

Ingolstadt just dropped all the information on the new Audi RS 3, so hang on to your pants, because this baby sounds like a total blast. Power comes from Audi’s award-winning 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder, which pumps out a whopping 394 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque. While the ponies are unchanged, the updated unit makes 14 more lb-ft of twist than the outgoing version, and full thrust is available earlier in the rev range, at 5,600 rpm.

Power is piped to the company’s famous quattro system through a wicked-quick seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which means the new RS 3 will make the sprint to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds. Keep your foot in the carpet, and standard models will pull all the way up to 155 mph. But there’s an optional package, which includes track-ready carbon ceramic brakes, which allows for an even higher maximum velocity. So if you need to hit 180 mph, make sure to check that box.

There’s also a trick new torque splitter in place of the old model’s rear differential, and in turns the fully variable system ensures that power goes to the wheel which needs it most. If you’re looking for some sideways fun, the new RS Torque Rear drive mode will allow drivers to pull off sweet drifts. The fastest lap times, however, will be achieved with the RS Performance mode, which is specifically calibrated to make use of all the grip the optional semi-slick tires will provide.

Of course, the greasy bits aren’t the only areas of the RS 3 that have gotten an update. Up front, there are new Matrix LED headlights, along with fender flares that are 1.3 inches wider. To feed more air to the engine, the intakes flaking the grille have been enlarged, and feature a cool honeycomb pattern. On the RS 3 sedan, which is the one that we’ll see here in the States, the roof will be painted Brilliant Black — which looks killer against the RS-specific Kyalami Green exterior finish.

Along the side of the car, there’s a now a vent behind the front wheel arch to help funnel heat away from the brakes, plus an RS-exclusive side rocker panel with a gloss-black inset. The wheels a five Y-spoke design, sized 265/30 in the front and 245/35 at the rear, and I think they look particularly sharp. Out back, a bumper with an integrated diffusor sits above the oval-shaped dual exhaust pipes, and a variable flap further back in the system means drivers will be treated to distinctly different sounds depending on which drive setting they choose.

Inside the cabin, a flat-bottom, Alcantara wheel with a 12 o’clock stripe communicates the sport potential of the RS 3 even before the ignition is turned on. That sexy tiller sits in front of Audi’s 12.3-inch virtual cockpit display, which includes readouts on factors like g-forces, lap times, acceleration from zero to 60 mph, and quarter-mile times. Along with black or red stitching, buyers now have a green option, which in my opinion is hottest one by a country mile.

At press time, no information on pricing is available. But European buyers will be able to order their new RS starting in late summer, and deliveries will start in the fall. No specific timetable for American customers has yet been announced. There’s sure to be loads more information about the new RS 3 released in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more pictures and video of Audi’s latest high-performance daily driver!

Photos: Audi

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