The exterior: reverence without retro
When it comes to their footprint – 5.23 meters in length versus 5.19; a width of 1.85 versus 2.00 meters – it is easy to see the similarity between the legendary Horch 853 convertible and the Audi skysphere. A striking difference, on the other hand, can be found in their height – the legendary Horch, with its iconic design, towered up to 1.77 meters depending on the body shape, while its autonomous descendant, the Audi skysphere, ducks down to the road in Sport mode at 1.23 meters flat, with an optimized center of gravity and aerodynamics. The concept car pays its respects to the classic model without merely remaining a retro imitation.
After all, apart from its dimensions, it’s the lines that make a real difference. With its wide curved and flared wheel arches typical of the brand, the skysphere emphasizes the wide track – a visible indication of its dynamic talents. Viewed from the side, the proportions are impressive with a long hood and – especially at the front – a short overhang. The surfaces of the wheel arches and front hood are organically curved. The rear end was developed in a wind tunnel and combines elements of a speedster and a shooting brake with large glass surfaces in a traditional streamlined design. Two overnight bags designed specifically for the Audi skysphere find space under the glass, and are held in place with straps that are stretched in a crosswise pattern.
The front end – although no longer serving as a radiator grill – clearly features the brand’s typical Singleframe and the three-dimensionally designed, illuminated emblem with the four rings. The entire Singleframe and also the adjacent surfaces on the sides are designed with white LED elements to literally act as a stage for visual effects – both functional effects as well as moving welcome sequences when the vehicle is opened and closed.
Gentle dimming and a structured, rhythmically pulsating light produce an elegant effect. The daytime running lights in the side front sections, in turn, give the lighting units a resolute, focused “gaze.” If the wheelbase is changed, the LEDs in the front and rear display a specially composed dynamic sequence.
The rear end is also dominated by a digitally controlled LED surface that extends across the entire width of the vehicle. Countless red LEDs are scattered like rubies across the vertical rear surface. Reflections create dynamic lighting and shadow effects when the lighting units are switched on and off.
Upon changing the wheelbase and thus the operating mode from GT to Sport, the light signature also changes and sends a clear indication of the changed character of the Audi skysphere concept, particularly in the area around the Singleframe.
A characteristic feature of the side view are the rocker panels, which seem to protrude into the rear wheel arch – a necessary feature when varying the wheelbase actually pushes it backwards. The rocker panel is attached to the front end of the car, and as it moves, the panel also slides to the rear under the fixed door. In the process, the wheelbase is reduced from the standard size of an A8 L to the significantly more compact size of the curve-compatible Audi RS 5 – 25 centimeters make all the difference. And not just technically, but also visually and, above all, in terms of the driving experience.
There’s no doubt that the Audi skysphere concept has two personalities – a GT and a luxury sports car. The key differences, however, can only be enjoyed in the interior, because here, behind the rear-hinged and wide-opening doors, the Audi skysphere offers highly contrasting experiences.