The fourth and final car in the Audi Sphere series has just been unveiled – the Activesphere. Previously teased at the end of December, the Activesphere is a unique crossover concept that transforms from a luxury coupé into an equally luxurious pickup truck.
The Activesphere is all about getting closer to nature than ever before, so Audi has added windows to the door base and front of the car. Plus, the Ativesphere has been designed to easily transport skis, on the retractable roof rack, and bikes via the boot that transforms into a flatbed.
It certainly looks the part, with its monolithic design. It's almost the antithesis of the Tesla Cybertruck, with almost no hard edges in sign and smooth transitions between convex and concave surfaces throughout the body.
Sure, the Tesla Cybertruck is bulletproof and no doubt a little more practical, but it also looks like it was designed by a 9-year-old.
Don't let that sleek exterior fool you into thinking this can't handle the rough stuff however, as the Activesphere features tyres with movable segments that improve ventilation when off-road (and close on-road for optimum aerodynamics), an electronically controlled Quattro all-wheel drive system, and variable ground clearance.
On the inside, the Activesphere boasts more futuristic Audi tech - the Audi Dimension. Doing away with traditional screens, this mixed reality is viewed through headsets in the car, overlaying the real world with digital feeds.
This means all driver-relevant information, such as driving status, range, and navigation, can be displayed, whilst someone not wearing the headset can enjoy the decluttered, minimalist interior.
Audi claims this allows car controls to be designed more logically, so, for example, the AC control hoovers in front of the air vent, and the entertainment and sound interactive panel hoovers over the speaker.
Also, in off-road mode, for example, high-resolution 3D topography graphics can be projected onto the landscape ahead and information on navigation and the destination can be displayed. Traffic safety information, such as alerts for traffic jams or slippery roads, can also be used here.
It's certainly an interesting idea, but ultimately one that seems a very long way off as VR and AR haven't really gripped consumers' imaginations yet. Maybe when Apple launches its Reality Pro headset it'll really start to take off.
Okay, so what would it actually be like to drive the Activesphere? Audi boasts it will have a drive system and suspension which make it equally adept both on and off road.
The steering wheel and pedals allow the driver to actively control the car, while also offering autonomous driving for a more relaxed time on the road.
Due to its dimensions and performance level, the Audi Activesphere concept lends itself to the use of Audi’s most innovative electric drive system: the Premium Platform Electric, or PPE for short.
The key element of future PPE vehicles is a battery module between the axles; in the Activesphere concept, it holds around 100kWh of energy. Electric motors on the front and rear axles of the all-wheel drive Concept deliver a total output of 325kW and a system torque of 720Nm of torque. This helps it accelerate from 0 to 62mph in 4.9 seconds.
The heart of the drive technology in the Activesphere Concept Audi's 800-volt charging technology. Like the Audi e-tron GT quattro before it, this ensures that the battery can be charged with up to 270 kW in a very short time at fast-charging stations.
Just 10 minutes is enough time to charge the battery to a level sufficient to power the car for more than 186 miles. And in less than 25 minutes, the 100kWh battery charges from 5 to 80-percent.
This is all certainly an exciting glimpse of electric vehicles to come.