Audi Grand Sphere Concept: The Automotive Revolution According to Ingolstadt

In an exclusive meeting Audi has shown us its next big step, a luxurious model designed from the inside out to exploit autonomous driving and that will be a production model in 2024

Audi is having a busy 2021 year in which they have given new impetus to their e-tron family with models such as the long-awaited e-tron GT electric sports car, the Q4 e-tron SUV, and just a few months ago it joined as a preview the Audi A6 e-tron Concept. However, the best letter of the German brand for the future was yet to be revealed. One that according to Audi chief designer Marc Lichte will be a "true revolution" and "a before and after in car design" and which we will see at the next Munich Motor Show (IAA 2021) next month. of September.

However, before that moment arrives we have been able to know, in an exclusive meeting with its own creator, some of the most interesting details of this Audi Grand Sphere Concept. A model that Lichte explains is part of a story told in three acts, with three completely new different cars. The first of them is this model that is presented as a luxury vehicle for long-distance trips with autonomous technology within the D segment that, although we will know it in just a few months as a concept, it will become a production model that will reach late 2024 to replace the Audi A8.

A luxurious private jet for the road

The words "revolution", or " game-changer " were repeated several times in Lichte's presentation of this model, and it is that as the Audi design chief himself explained, in the last 130 years the way in which they have The design of the cars has been more or less the same: a platform is developed, the segment to which that car will go and the number of seats is outlined, the exterior is designed and finally its interior is designed. However, taking advantage of advances in level 4 autonomous driving technology and electric technology, this Grand Sphere Concept has been turned 180 degrees, because it has been designed from the inside out, creating a spacious and sophisticated space. inside similar to what you would find in a cozy living room in your house or in the first class of an airplane and then go on to design its exterior. In fact, despite this new way of designing a car and its commitment to a spacious interior, its exterior maintains a style of the most elegant and low.

“It is almost a minivan and we know that minivans are not very attractive. That is why I am really proud of this design. This car offers, from the outside, completely different proportions ”explains Lichte. “You get in the car and it's almost like a classic Gran Turismo, and then you get out and you look around the car and you see that no, it's not actually a long hood car but a very short one, it's low ... it's something completely new. The idea was "I don't want to break with visual mores, but I do want to offer you a completely new perspective."

This new design format has thus made it possible to create an interior that is the closest thing to traveling first class but in a car. Audi has created a relaxing and natural atmosphere that uses a lot of wood and other recycled materials, thus taking the experience of its occupants far beyond what the most luxurious Audi in the house today, the A8, is capable of offering today. "If you think for a second about today's A8, you know that it is a luxury car, the owner is sitting in the second row and the driver is in the first row. In this car, is based on autonomous driving technology, There's no reason to sit in the second row anymore, so this model will offer a kind of the first-class ride, "he says. "If you compare it to the current A8, you know it's like traveling on an airplane, you can recline the seat, you can access entertainment services ... and that's it. But this car is one step ahead. You are sitting in the front row and it offers a large interior space, it is almost like a living room, and that is without a doubt a before and after in car design. "

Redesigning the interior of a car

That complete redefinition of the interior after putting, as he himself explained, " technology at the center of the design " is appreciated not only at the level of space but also in the different elements and details that make up this interior, such as a steering wheel that disappears when the autonomous driving mode is activated, some seats that now become more like armchairs typical of a modern living room and that can be reclined up to about 60 degrees, or a central console that has been converted into a minibar.

The Grand Sphere is presented as a luxury product and a potential substitute for first-class flights.

All these small details - and many others that will be revealed later - make it clear that this Grand Sphere Concept is presented as a luxury product that according to Lichte aspires to find a gap among the most premium customer, even as a substitute for air travel a short distance. But it also shows that thanks to current technology - and the one to come - designers are not only inspired by aeronautics and other fields to improve efficiency on the outside but now the interior is also being looked at more and more attention to the world of interior design, furniture, and even fashion.

It is a sample of how autonomous driving will change the experience inside a vehicle. “Until now and in the last 130 years you were the driver, the one who drove the car 100% of the time, but in a car, as this autonomous driving offers you different possibilities, you can relax, you can watch a movie, you can do what whatever you want ”. Despite everything, the head of Audi design clarifies that as a Level 4 autonomous driving vehicle that it is, you can take the wheel whenever you want and have "the perfect machine to drive."

The single-frame grille: The brain of the Audi

Although at the moment the images offered by Audi do not show us his face, Marc Lichte confirmed that the famous Audi Singleframe grille, the hallmark of the brand's models since 2004, will continue to be very much alive in the brand and especially in this Audi Grand Sphere Concept will play a key role, because it will be the brain of the vehicle. And it is that although its usual shapes will remain intact in view, it will now have a transparent illuminated surface under which all the sensors and the very brain of the vehicle will be in charge of operating its entire autonomous driving system and other onboard technologies.

A car of the future that will be a reality in 2024

Most surprising of all, Lichte assured that the concept that will be shown in September will be very close to the production version that will be unveiled at the end of 2024 to start production in 2025 and become the new Audi flagship, or at least one of them since in the coming months as we said at the beginning will also share the limelight with two other concepts, the Audi Sky Sphere and the Urban Sphere.

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