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Audi unveils new urbansphere concept car

Audi unveils new urbansphere concept car
A photo of the Audi urbansphere concept.
PHOTO: Audi

Audi has just unveiled its urbansphere concept car, its latest vision of the premium mobility of tomorrow. The company explains that the vehicle is designed primarily for megacities and urban environments.

The urbansphere offers the largest interior space of any Audi model to date. In addition, it intelligently coordinates this with technologies and digital services that appeal to all the senses, and thus offers a new quality of experience. 

According to the Ingolstadt-based carmaker, the vehicle serves as a third living space during the hours spent in traffic, with its expansive interior that doubles as both a lounge on wheels and mobile office.

The development process took place in close collaboration between Audi’s design studios in Beijing and its headquarters in Ingolstadt. For the first time, potential customers in China also took part, contributing their own desires and experiences to the development process (known as “co-creation”).

The urbansphere concept combines the luxury of complete privacy with a comprehensive range of high-tech features on board. Level 4 automated driving technology transforms the interior without a steering wheel, pedals, or displays into a mobile interactive space that opens up to the offerings of a comprehensive digital ecosystem.

Interior 

The concept car reveals itself to be the largest model of all Audi concept cars to date, with its impressive dimensions - 5.51 metres long, 2.01 metres wide, and 1.78 metres high. It is, according to Audi, designed inside out around its passengers. As such, it has an unrivaled wheelbase of 3.40 metres.

The vehicle is able to take care of everyday tasks that go beyond the ride itself – such as making dinner reservations or shopping online from the car. In addition, the autonomous Audi urbansphere concept picks up its passengers at home and independently takes care of finding a parking space and charging the battery.

Customized infotainment offerings are also available, such as the seamless integration of onboard streaming from music and video providers the customer already uses. In an additional step, Audi will make personalized and exclusive options available in the future – concerts, cultural events, or even sporting events that customers will be invited to.

Surface, form, and function

The doors of the Audi urbansphere concept are counter-hinged at the front and the rear, eliminating the need for a B-pillar. Its seats swivel outward and a red carpet of light projected onto the ground next to the vehicle.

Four individual seats in two rows offer passengers luxurious first-class comfort. The seats in the rear offer particularly generous dimensions and a wide range of adjustment options. In Relax and Entertain modes, the backrest can be tilted up to 60 degrees while leg rests extend at the same time. The centre-mounted armrests integrated into the sides of the seats and their counterparts in the doors create a comforting feeling of security. 

While conversing, passengers can turn to face each other on their swiveling seats. On the other hand, those who want some seclusion can conceal their head area from the person next to them using a privacy screen mounted behind the headrest. In addition, each seat has its own sound zone with speakers in the headrest area. Individual monitors are also built into the backs of the front seats.

A large-format and transparent OLED screen that pivots vertically from the roof area into the zone between the rows of seats to form an infotainment system. Using this “cinema screen,” which occupies the entire width of the interior, the two passengers in the back row can take part in a video conference together or watch a movie. Even split-screen use is possible. When the screen is not in use, it offers a clear view of the front thanks to its transparent design – or when folded upwards – also through the glass roof area to the sky.

Wood and wool as well as synthetic textile fabrics serve as panelling, seat coverings, and floor carpets, all of which have a high-quality feel and are pleasant to the touch. Soft beige and grey tones structure the interior horizontally. A dark, toned-down green serves as the color of the seat shells. The interior color zones become lighter from top to bottom and, together with the natural light entering the space, create a homogeneous, wide interior.

The urbansphere concept is also equipped with the MMI touchless response. If the driver or passenger is sitting in the upright position, far forward in his or her respective area, they can use this element to physically select various function menus via a rotating ring and buttons and click their way through the individual levels. A simple, intuitive operation. 

Sustainability 

Many of the materials in the interior of the Audi urbansphere concept, such as the hornbeam veneers, come from sustainable sources. This wood makes it possible to use wood that has grown close to the site, and the entire trunk can be utilized. During processing, the manufacturers do not use any chemicals.

The seat padding is made of ECONYL®, a recycled polyamide. This material can also be recycled after its use in the automobile – without any loss of quality. Bamboo viscose fabric is used in the armrests and in the rear of the vehicle. 

Drive system and charging

The Audi urbansphere uses the Premium Platform Electric, or PPE, which was designed exclusively for battery-electric drive systems. There is a battery module between the axles which holds around 120 kWh of energy, and possesses a flat layout by using almost the entire base of the vehicle between the axles. 

Its two electric motors are capable of delivering a total output of 295 kW and a 690Nm of torque. It is further complemented by Audi's quattro permanent four-wheel drive system.

The concept car has one electric motor each on the front and rear axles which, by means of electronic coordination, implement the permanently available all-wheel drive as required and, above all, with a view to economy and range. An innovative feature is that the motor on the front axle can be deactivated as required in order to reduce friction and thus energy consumption when coasting.

Fast charging, high range

The heart of the drive system is the 800-volt charging technology. It ensures that the battery can be charged with up to 270 kW at fast-charging stations in the shortest possible time. As such, charging times are approaching those of a conventional stop to refuel a car powered by an internal combustion engine, as just ten minutes are enough to charge the battery to a level sufficient to power the car more than 300 kilometres (186 miles). 

In addition, the battery, which holds more than 120 kWh, can be charged from 5 to 80 per cent in less than 25 minutes. This means that a range of up to 750 kilometres (466 miles) can be expected acing to the WLTP standard – and even when used for more energy-intensive city and short-distance trips, it is generally possible to avoid making unexpected stops to charge.

Air suspension for maximum comfort

The front wheels are connected via a five-link axle that has been specially optimized for electric vehicles. In the rear, there is a multi-link axle that, like the front, is made of lightweight aluminum. Despite the long 3.40-metre wheelbase, the steerable rear wheels provide excellent maneuverability. 

It also features Audi's adaptive air suspension – a single-chamber air suspension with semi-active damper control. It offers outstanding comfort not only on city highways, but even on the uneven, often patched asphalt of downtown streets with no noticeable body movement.

ALSO READ: Audi e-tron S Sportback with 3 motors launched in Singapore

This article was first published in Motorist.

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