Audi activesphere concept – off-roader with AR interface, pick-up truck bed, 600 km EV range, 442 PS

Audi has revealed another one of its ‘sphere’ concepts with the debut of the activesphere, which joins past efforts like the skysphere, urbansphere and grandsphere. The new concept is an amalgamation of different segments and takes the form of a sportback crossover with a coupe-like roofline and a pick-up truck-like bed, while also being focused on off-roading.

That’s a lot to take in, so let’s start with the basics. The activesphere rides on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) platform – also used for the upcoming A6 e-tron – and carries a battery with an energy capacity of 100 kWh. Audi says this is good for a range of 600 km, and thanks to an 800-volt electrical architecture, there’s support for DC fast charging at a max of 270 kW.

With just ten minutes of being plugged into a DC charger capable of that power, the battery is charged with enough energy for more than 300 km. In less than 25 minutes, the battery can also get from a 5-80% state of charge, which is impressive.

The battery powers a pair of motors that make up the electric quattro all-wheel drive system, with a total system output of 442 PS (436 hp or 325 kW) and 720 Nm of torque. Other parts of the powertrain include front and rear five-link suspension as well as adaptive air suspension, which can raise the ride height by 40 mm from the basic height of 208 mm, or lowered if needed. Audi says the vehicle has an approach angle of 18.9 degrees and departure angle of 28.1 degrees.

In terms of size, the activesphere measures 4.98 meters long, 2.07 meters wide and 1.6 meters high, with a wheelbase that spans 2.97 meters – about the size of a Q8. Monolithic is the word used by Audi to describe the concept, and it’s hard to argue against that.

The activesphere a new interpretation of the brand’s Singleframe grille, which is designed as a transparent glazing so passengers can get an unobstructed view through the large frunk of the road in front of the vehicle. Sleek headlamps, large 22-inch wheels (with 285/55 profile tires), frameless doors (the back ones are rear-hinged) add to the visual drama.

If that isn’t enough, there’s also the active back, which is essentially a split tailgate that has a lower section that folds down like on a pick-up truck, while the rear glass slides upwards to reveal the small bed large enough for a pair of bicycles. Other utility features include a motorized bulkhead behind the rear seats to keep the cabin separated from the outdoors, plus a ski rack integrated into the roof.

For even more unconventional features, you’ll need to enter the cabin, which appears normal at first with the presence of a steering wheel a pedals. However, these fold away when autonomous driving is activated when you don’t have to navigate over trying terrain.

The dashboard itself is simple in its execution, sporting vertical and horizontal surfaces, along with right angles here and there. There’s also a full-width sound bar and air vent, but you’ll notice there aren’t huge touchscreens stapled onto the dash.

Audi says that’s because the interior, through extensive use of augmented reality, becomes the visual interface for passengers when Audi dimensions is engaged. This requires the use of a dedicated headset, of which there are four – one for each individual seat.

The system layers information and controls over what passengers see, kind of like how Iron Man does when he is in his suit, although you’ll only be seeing the vehicle status, navigation and infotainment instead of priming the repulsor rays. Since there are no physical buttons to touch, you’ll be using gestures to get things done.

The AR headsets also allow information to be projected outside the cabin, including a topographical map when off-roading, traffic information, and safety warnings. The system also provides passengers with their own feeds and adjustable settings, or even look up information on their destination.

Audi also says the headsets can be used outside of the car, expanding their functionality further. Of course, the sci-fi interior is likely not due for production anytime soon, but the idea does sound really cool and provides a hint as to what Audi is developing for the future.

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