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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RS e-tron GT vs AMG E 63 S in EPIC Electric vs Gas Battle!

Audi RS e-tron GT vs Mercedes-AMG E 63 S

RS e-tron GT proves its worth against AMG, proves electric vehicles can have style, performance on par or better than ICE machines.

There’s no doubt the New ’20s will likely be the last time ICE machines have the higher ground in all aspects of motoring. As more automakers enter the roadway to electrification, new EVs continue to improve their standing away from egomaniacs and their playthings. Audi is among them with their e-tron family, including its high-performance RS e-tron GT fastback sedan.

How far has the electric road come along over the past few years? Why not see by pitting the RS e-tron GT against one of the old guard. Carwow‘s Mat Watson and Yianni Charalambous (a.k.a. Yiannimize) turned up on the runway for a good battle between the Audi and the gas-powered AMG E 63 S. Can the EV hold its own against a V8?

Audi RS e-tron GT vs Mercedes-AMG E 63 S

“I’m sitting in a Mercedes E 63 AMG,” said Watson. “Next to me is an Audi RS e-tron GT. This may seem like a bit of an odd match-up, but I’m going to explain why I’m doing it. You see, [the Audi] is now the most powerful RS model you can buy. Yet, every time I’ve raced an RS car against this E 63, the Mercedes has come out on top. So can that new, electric-powered RS car regain some honor for Audi?”

Of course, it’s not just about regaining honor for Audi. It’s a demonstration of how far EVs have come along in just a few short years as being as good, if not better than, their ICE counterparts. Though manufacturers like Toyota and Porsche have either put their weight behind alternatives like hydrogen and synthetic gasoline (the latter which could keep ICE machines on the road for a long time to come, per Donut Media), there’s no doubt the EV is not only here to stay, it’s here to overthrow the old order.

Audi RS e-tron GT vs Mercedes-AMG E 63 S

“I think this [Audi] looks great,” said Charalambous. “I really, really like this a lot. I’ll be honest with you, when I saw the lineup, I was so surprised you gave me this car. I personally don’t think you got a chance. But, I could be underestimating that vehicle.”

Right off the bat, Charalambous proves the RS e-tron GT is the wave of the future. In the drag race, he uses his perfect launch to leave Watson in dust by around two car lengths. After all, his Audi’s pair of electric motors deliver their combined 620 ft-lb of torque all at once. Meanwhile, the AMG’s torque takes a while to come up, just as the Audi’s 630 ponies have long already gotten the job done.

Audi RS e-tron GT vs Mercedes-AMG E 63 S

That instant torque shows up even harder on the roll races. On the first with both cars in their respective comfort modes, the RS e-tron GT immediately pulls away, crossing the mile-mark by four car lengths. In their performance modes, though, the duo cross the same line in a dead heat. However, it did take the AMG a while to reach the Audi.

Audi RS e-tron GT vs Mercedes-AMG E 63 S

“For a car that’s so fast,” said Charalambous, “it doesn’t brake well. I assume you got no ceramics on this?”

Despite the AMG winning the brake test, it did so by about a third of a car. Part of this could be due to the RS e-tron GT’s battery pack contributing to the overall 2.3 tons it weighs. It also, as Charalambous believes, could be due to the lack of the right sort of brakes for such a machine.

However, the weight issue could resolve itself once the infrastructure is in place. As Audi CEO Markus Duesmann told Roadshow in February, the long-range packs of today could shrink amid a denser infrastructure. In turn, charging times also shrink, placing EVs finally on par with fueling times for ICE machines. And, of course, shorter stopping distances for brake tests like the ones carwow performs due to less weight overall.

In short, races like these demonstrate where the EV lines up with ICEs. Looks like the latter has finally met its match, and its fate.

Click HERE to join the AudiWorld forums!

Cameron Aubernon

Cameron Aubernon’s path to automotive journalism began in the early New ’10s. Back then, a friend of hers thought she was an independent fashion blogger.

Aubernon wasn’t, so she became one, covering fashion in her own way for the next few years.

From there, she’s written for: Louisville.com/Louisville Magazine, Insider Louisville, The Voice-Tribune/The Voice, TOPS Louisville, Jeffersontown Magazine, Dispatches Europe, The Truth About Cars, Automotive News, Yahoo Autos, RideApart, Hagerty, and Street Trucks.

Aubernon also served as the editor-in-chief of a short-lived online society publication in Louisville, Kentucky, interned at the city’s NPR affiliate, WFPL-FM, and was the de facto publicist-in-residence for a communal art space near the University of Louisville.

Aubernon is a member of the International Motor Press Association, and the Washington Automotive Press Association.

RS e-tron GT vs R8: Future vs Past Battle on the Runway

Audi R8 vs Audi RS e-tron GT

One presents power through electrons. The other boasts a V10-fueled roar. Both the RS e-tron GT and R8 represent Audi at its best.

Like more than a few manufacturers, Audi stands at the crossroads. Behind it, high-performance, gasoline-fueled wonders like the R8, RS 2 and the ur-Quattro. Ahead, an electric path forged by the e-tron family, including the new champion of the cause, the RS e-tron GT. Each path represents Ingolstadt at its best.

Thus, there’s but one question: which of those paths would take the gold in a series of drags, rolls and immediate stops? Carwow‘s Mat Watson sets about to find this out by pairing the best of the best against each other, in the forms of the RS e-tron GT and the R8.

Audi RS e-tron GT

“I’m sitting in the new Audi RS e-tron GT,” said Watson, “which is now the most powerful Audi you can buy. It’s even more powerful than an R8, believe it or not […] It’s got two electric motors; together, they provide 646 horsepower when you’re launching it. They also deliver [612 lb-ft] of torque. It’s got a two-stage automatic gearbox. It’s got a launch stage and a high-speed stage for the gearbox, so you can be quick off the line and do decent, sustained high speed.”

Alas, the RS e-tron GT also weighs more than the R8, coming in at 5,174 pounds versus the R8’s 3,616 pounds. However, the R8 is outgunned on power (620 horses and 384 lb-ft of torque) and price ($178,000 USD vs the electric Audi’s $157,000 USD). That said, the R8 still makes lovely noises through the 5.2-liter V10, while the RS e-tron GT must make due with random screaming noises from the editor.

Audi R8 vs Audi RS e-tron GT

“The big question here is this is the most powerful Audi now, but is it the quickest,” asks Watson. “This is gonna be so exciting.”

The answer is a resounding yes. On the first drag, Watson quickly pulls away to take the win. However, the R8 driver says that happened due to the R8 bogging down after a successful launch. The second and third drags are also won by Watson and the RS e-tron GT thanks to the R8 short-shifting. Yet, the third drag was the closest it got to the EV.

Audi R8 vs Audi RS e-tron GT

“Now, we have a rolling race from 50 miles an hour,” said Watson, “with the cars in their normal comfy setting. I’m actually going in Efficiency mode, and I’m gonna be very not very efficient, actually.”

Three rolling races, two driving modes, and one errant bunny later, the R8 beat the RS e-tron GT. Plus, it stopped from 70 mph a half-car before the EV. Those wins likely came from the weight advantage the R8 has over the new kid. Overall, the V10 still has it, though it’s only a matter of time before the e-tron fully surpasses its ancestors.

Click HERE to join the AudiWorld forums!

Cameron Aubernon

Cameron Aubernon’s path to automotive journalism began in the early New ’10s. Back then, a friend of hers thought she was an independent fashion blogger.

Aubernon wasn’t, so she became one, covering fashion in her own way for the next few years.

From there, she’s written for: Louisville.com/Louisville Magazine, Insider Louisville, The Voice-Tribune/The Voice, TOPS Louisville, Jeffersontown Magazine, Dispatches Europe, The Truth About Cars, Automotive News, Yahoo Autos, RideApart, Hagerty, and Street Trucks.

Aubernon also served as the editor-in-chief of a short-lived online society publication in Louisville, Kentucky, interned at the city’s NPR affiliate, WFPL-FM, and was the de facto publicist-in-residence for a communal art space near the University of Louisville.

Aubernon is a member of the International Motor Press Association, and the Washington Automotive Press Association.

Audi RS6 vs BMW M550i

Audi RS6 vs BMW M550i

Mat Watson races a BMW 550i against an Audi RS6 in one of CarWow’s recent webisode.

We can always count on Mat Watson from CarWow to bring us some exciting drag races. In one of its most recent webisodes, the YouTube channel pits an Audi RS6 against a BMW M550i. Both contenders were evenly matched, as the 4.4-liter V8 motor in the BMW 550i produces 530 HP of maximum power and around 553 lb-ft of peak torque. The Audi comes equipped with a 600 HP 4.0-liter V8 engine which churns out 590 lb-ft of torque.

Watson was behind the wheel of the BMW 550i shares its TwinPower motor with the lauded BMW M5. Both cars get 8-speed automatic transmissions and all-wheel-drive layouts, but at around 4574 lbs, the Audi is 353 lbs heavier than BMW’s performance sedan. Both cars also come equipped with launch controls, but that did not help the BMW 550i. The BMW 550i completed the quarter-mile in 11.9 seconds, and the quattro equipped Audi RS6 made the same run in just 11.6 seconds.

“This (BMW 550i) kind of felt a little bit soft. It didn’t have the hard kick that you get in that,” said Watson.

Audi RS6 vs BMW M550i

Watson’s Beemer was quicker off the line than the Audi RS6, but the presenter attributed that to his reaction time. The two cars then participated in a rolling drag race traveling at 50 MPH in Comfort mode. The Audi RS6 took the lead straight away, which it maintained till the end of the race and even the track for that matter. Even in Sport mode, the Audi RS6 managed to pull away from Watson’s BMW 550i in a rolling drag race.

This (BMW 550i) picks up pretty nice, not quite as nice as that RS6, confessed Watson. He further added, “he’s (driver in the Audi RS6) just easing ahead but once again not by loads.”
The Audi RS6 was not just quick in a straight line, but also managed to decelerate faster than the 550i in the brake test. In the interest of full disclosure, the Audi RS6 is more expensive than the BMW 550i, but as Mat made evident in the video, you do get a lot more performance for the extra money.

Image Source: CarWow

Little Yet Mighty: SQ2 Destroys AMG GLA 35 on Wet Quarter-Mile

2021 Audi SQ2

Despite running on a less-than-ideal surface, SQ2 lays the smack down on Stuttgart off the line, nearly takes it all against tiny AMG.

The smallest Audi crossover we can buy in the United States is the Q3. Alas, there’s no SQ3 or even an RS Q3 for those who want big power in a small package, though the S line does crank the power on the 2.0-liter turbo-four to 228 ponies and 258 lb-ft of torque. Perhaps one day, Audi will offer an SQ3 or RS Q3 for us on this side of the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, other parts of the world receive a smaller crossover, dubbed the Q2. They also receive a hotter version called the SQ2. And today, Motor‘s Alex Inwood and Scott Newman pit the mighty mite against Mercedes-AMG’s own tiny terror, the AMG GLA 35, upon a very wet quarter-mile in New South Wales, Australia.

2021 Audi SQ2

“Today’s Motor drag battle is going to be wet,” said Inwood. “But what you want in soggy conditions like these is a two-liter turbo and all-wheel drive. Exactly what these two have. Question is: which of them is quickest?”

The Audi SQ2 packs 296 horses and 295 lb-ft of torque in its small frame, compared to the AMG’s 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The AMG has one more gear, and more heft at 3,488 pounds versus the Audi’s seven-speed auto and 3,384 pounds. The biggest difference, though, is on price: around $62,000 USD for the AMG, around $47,000 USD for the Audi. Let’s see how these two fare going up the quarter-mile from the other end.

2021 Audi SQ2

“Activating launch control in the SQ2 is a bit of a process,” said Inwood. “Get the car into Drive, put the gearbox into Sport, turn off the stop-start system, put the traction control into Sport […] Then, left foot on the brake, right foot on the throttle, and we should be okay. I hope.”

Despite the complicated procedure, which also requires the steering wheel to be pointed perfectly straight, as well as a warm powertrain, the Audi kills the AMG off the first run by two car lengths. Under a normal street start, the little guy from Ingolstadt does it again, soundly defeating Stuttgart’s champion by five car lengths. However, there’s still a roll to conquer, this time from the proper end of the quarter-mile.

2021 Audi SQ2

“It was fairly steady,” said Newman. “And then, that last 50 meters or so or whatever, 100 meters, bang! Suddenly, it was really starting accelerating forward. I was getting nervous.”

Though Newman’s AMG did win the roll, Inwood and his Audi would’ve taken it with a few more feet. Overall, the SQ2 not only delivers the goods, it does so at a lower price point than the AMG. We can only wonder why anyone would spend some $20,000 on a heavier crossover.

Click HERE to join the AudiWorld forums!

Cameron Aubernon

Cameron Aubernon’s path to automotive journalism began in the early New ’10s. Back then, a friend of hers thought she was an independent fashion blogger.

Aubernon wasn’t, so she became one, covering fashion in her own way for the next few years.

From there, she’s written for: Louisville.com/Louisville Magazine, Insider Louisville, The Voice-Tribune/The Voice, TOPS Louisville, Jeffersontown Magazine, Dispatches Europe, The Truth About Cars, Automotive News, Yahoo Autos, RideApart, Hagerty, and Street Trucks.

Aubernon also served as the editor-in-chief of a short-lived online society publication in Louisville, Kentucky, interned at the city’s NPR affiliate, WFPL-FM, and was the de facto publicist-in-residence for a communal art space near the University of Louisville.

Aubernon is a member of the International Motor Press Association, and the Washington Automotive Press Association.