The latest vehicle in Audi’s ever-widening range of Sphere-themed concept cars has just arrived: meet the Activesphere, a sleek four-door coupe that transforms into a go-anywhere, utilitarian pickup in mere moments.
Just take a moment to consider the concept’s proportions – 4.98m in length, hoisted high above the ground on 22-inch wheels – against its swanky, coupe-like roofline, sloping downward to reveal a rear storage area that essentially functions like a split tailgate.
You read that right. By folding down its tailgate and sliding up the rear window, the Activesphere can create an on-demand pickup truck bed that easily accommodates a pair of road bikes (or a couple of coolers of ice-cold beer). Winter sports enthusiasts can also look forward to mounting points on the vehicle’s roof for ski or snowboard racks.
That’s not the only part of the car that transforms though. At the touch of a button, the Activesphere can go off-road mode and increase its ground clearance by 40mm. Tapping the button again when returning to asphalt returns the vehicle to its regular state, providing a lower centre of gravity and better aerodynamics over ground clearance when its needed.
If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Porsche’s all-terrain 911 Dakar sports car is also capable of altering its ground clearance on the go. Audi’s 2021 concept Skysphere is equally capable – though it morphs lengthwise, from a roadster to grand tourer and back.
Other similarities to other Sphere-themed concept cars include the vehicle’s all-electric drivetrain, which, at 436hp, lurches the car from dead stop to 100kmh in a respectable 4.9 seconds. It is also good for a purported range of over 600km thanks to a 100kWh battery (that Audi claims can be filled from 5 to 80 per cent in under 25 minutes).
It also boasts a Grandsphere-esque fully retractable steering wheel, complemented by hypothetical level 4 self-driving capabilities (which requires almost zero human intervention except in emergencies), along with a complete lack of giant touchscreens and infotainment systems.
Instead, one gets information about the driving experience from a pair of (very-conceptual) augmented-realty shades – think real-time 3D topographical maps that you can grab and manipulate with gesture control, Minority Report-style.
There’s no word yet on exactly which of Audi’s concepts will ever make it to production. Take it, for now, as an intellectual exercise for Audi’s designers as they race to meet ever-changing consumer demand.