New Audi Grandsphere concept makes Munich Motor Show debut

The Grandsphere is the second model in Audi’s trio of ‘sphere’ concepts, with the luxury four-door saloon previewing a future A8 limo with Level 4 autonomous tech

The new Audi Grandsphere concept has made its public debut at the 2021 Munich Motor Show. The all-electric luxury four-door saloon previews design and tech details that could make it onto the next-generation A8 limousine as part of Audi’s ‘Project Artemis’ venture to develop a high-tech, next-generation all-electric platform. 

The Grandsphere is the second in Audi’s trio of ‘sphere’ concepts, following the Skysphere two-seater roadster that made its debut recently. Like its sibling, the Grandsphere is fully electric and has been designed as a study for the future of luxury automotive travel.

As such the concept features a new approach to interior design which, according to Audi, has been made possible thanks to Level 4 autonomous driving technology.

Audi Grandsphere: design and technology

In fully autonomous mode the 5.35-metre-long saloon’s steering wheel and pedals retract into hidden compartments in the dashboard and floor, freeing up even more space with a design that “reimagines the interior, the passenger compartment, as the centre of the vehicle.”

This centres around a new infotainment system that projects a full-width image onto the wooden surface under the windscreen in Level 4 mode; when the driver takes manual control these displays are segmented for the driver and passenger.

In autonomous mode this projection surface can be used for playing films or even video conferencing on the move. A sensor bar is integrated under the projection surface to switch between menus and content.

It works with Audi’s newly developed MMI touchless response system. Physical control knobs for the climate and multimedia settings have been moved to the doors and, together with eye-tracking technology, the system recognises gestures, with users able to make a rotating motion with their hand to either increase or decrease the temperature, for example. The knobs can also be controlled physically and provide haptic feedback.

Audi claims that, combined with its new MMI technology, the Grandsphere’s autonomous driving mode “opens up new levels of freedom for all of the passengers.”

According to Audi’s interior designer, Maksymilian Nawka, the Grandsphere represents a shift compared with more traditional luxury cars.

Speaking to Auto Express at the unveiling of the car, Nawka told us that “the Grandsphere represents a shift in approach. Large luxury saloons have traditionally had a focus on rear-seat passengers when it comes to comfort and technology, but with a new platform, a new architecture, it allows us to do things differently, which is what the Grandsphere shows.”

As a result, the Grandsphere is a 2+2, with the rear seats more compact than the front seats. The front seat backs recline to 40 degrees, boosting comfort but still allowing passengers to use the infotainment, with up to a 60-degree angle possible.

The front headrests can be tilted forward by 15 degrees and integrate temperature-controlled outlets for scented air, as well as speakers that are inaudible to other passengers. There’s also a drinks dispenser in the centre console between the front seats featuring two glasses.

Leather doesn’t feature in the interior; the cabin is constructed mainly from sustainable or recycled materials. There are also very few fittings, with this highly digital approach allowing the Grandsphere to integrate infotainment options when it comes to streaming music or video, as well as handling information on parking and even charging.

From the outside the Grandsphere boasts muscular, more coupe-like GT proportions compared with a traditional luxury saloon. The roofline is low, reinforced by split window glass that makes the car look lower and sleeker.

A long bonnet and a tapered tail with the 23-inch alloy wheels pushed towards the corners of the car have been made possible by the Grandsphere’s underpinnings.

Audi Grandsphere: engine and chassis

At 5.35 metres long and with a 3.19-metre wheelbase, the Grandsphere’s vital dimensions mean it’s larger than Audi’s current A8 saloon.

The Grandsphere is based on the firm’s Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture for large EVs and is powered by a battery that takes up the whole of that wheelbase (also allowing for a ‘flatter’ layout), offering “around 120kWh” of energy.

The battery feeds a pair of electric motors offering 710bhp, 960Nm of torque and a claimed range of more than 466 miles. Audi has not yet released any performance claims.

PPE features 800v electronic architecture which means the Grandsphere is equipped with 270kW DC rapid charging, allowing the battery to be recharged from five to 80 per cent in less than 25 minutes; Audi claims just 10 minutes plugged into a rapid charger will add more than 186 miles of range.

The German brand also says that the Grandsphere is the model of the trio (including the Skysphere and Urbansphere SUV that will make its debut soon) that is closest to a production-ready car, and given that the firm has already outlined various elements will evolve into production form for a future luxury Audi model, this new approach gives us a good indication of the direction Audi will take.

Now read all the latest news about the upcoming Audi RS 3 hot hatchback

Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

Recommended

New BMW Neue Klasse SUV to open a “new era” for the brand in 2025
BMW Neue Klasse SUV spyshots - front
News

New BMW Neue Klasse SUV to open a “new era” for the brand in 2025

The all-electric SUV will mark a change in technology and design language for BMW
1 Feb 2024
Best new cars coming in 2024
Best new cars coming in 2024 - header image
Best cars & vans

Best new cars coming in 2024

There are some big new models from the likes of BMW, Citroen, Dacia, Ford, MINI, Skoda and more on the way in 2024
29 Jan 2024
Audi RS Avant megatest: the greatest fast Audi estate cars head-to-head
Audi RS Avant megatest - static header
Features

Audi RS Avant megatest: the greatest fast Audi estate cars head-to-head

We bring together the very best Audi RS Avants to celebrate 30 years of quattro-equipped fast estate cars
26 Dec 2023
New MINI Countryman is on sale now: EV versions, advanced tech and MINI’s quirky charm
MINI Countryman at 2023 Munich Motor Show - front
News

New MINI Countryman is on sale now: EV versions, advanced tech and MINI’s quirky charm

The 2024 MINI Countryman SUV has officially landed with pricing from £29,325
15 Dec 2023

Most Popular

New Renault 4 EV: price, specs, release date and all the details
Renault 4 - front (watermarked)
News

New Renault 4 EV: price, specs, release date and all the details

Renault’s retro revolution will continue with a new version of the iconic Renault 4 as a small electric car. Here’s everything we know about it
2 Mar 2024
"BYD, Dacia, MG and Renault are among the most impressive and in-touch car brands in the world"
Opinion - MG3
Opinion

"BYD, Dacia, MG and Renault are among the most impressive and in-touch car brands in the world"

Mike Rutherford is confused as to why so many car manufacturers avoided the 2024 Geneva Motor Show
3 Mar 2024
Volkswagen Touareg vs Audi Q8: an SUV sibling rivalry
Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q8 - front tracking
Car group tests

Volkswagen Touareg vs Audi Q8: an SUV sibling rivalry

The updated Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q8 are premium SUVs that share plenty of tech with each other – but which is best?
2 Mar 2024