Audi has unveiled a futuristic concept car that pays homage to the classic 1930s Horch 853 roadster. Debuting at Pebble Beach as part of Monterey Car Week, the Skysphere Concept is an electric-powered two-door convertible that is capable of autonomous driving and is set to pave the way for the marque’s luxury segment of the future.
One of Skysphere’s key features is the variable wheelbase that changes the car’s exterior length by 250 mm. With just a touch of button, the concept car can convert between the human-driven, 4.94 metre long “Sports” mode e-roadster, and the level 4 autonomous, 5.19 metre long GT under the “Grand Touring” mode. This is made possible thanks to the advanced mechanism that allows the body and frame components of the car to slide into one another.
Even though the elongated body of the Skysphere pays tribute to the legendary Horch 853 – the winner of the 2009 Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach — the autonomous concept is much more than just retro for retro’s sake. The lines of the body are modern, with curved and flared wheel arches, and the LED elements aren’t just for lighting purpose but also serve as a stage for visual effects. Powered by a rear-mounted electric motor with 624 hp and 75o Nm, the Skysphere accelerates from standstill to 100 km/h in under 4 seconds, while the 80 kWh battery pack offers a range of over 500 km.
The interior is equally exciting. With an autonomous driving system on board, the steering wheel and pedals can be hidden when not in use, creating more room for the person sitting in the front. The overall interior design is inspired by the Art Deco era, and it’s infused with elements such as microfibre fabric, environmentally-certified eucalyptus wood and synthetic leather, bringing the concept together with sustainability in mind.