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Audi teases Sky Sphere that is somehow both a sports car and a lounge

Audi has revealed a few glimpses of its upcoming Sky Sphere concept, a car that will in part define the future of the brand. It’s the second in Audi’s trio of Sphere concepts, which the company will put forth as a showcase of its upcoming technologies and design.

In the video, the car is described by Marc Lichte, Audi’s head of design, as both a “real sports car” and an “autonomous lounge,” two ideas that seem to be at direct odds to each other. However Lichte, along with senior VP Henrik Wenders, gives a clue to the direction of the concept by spending some time with a classic Horch 853A.

Horch was one of the four companies that merged to become Auto Union, the predecessor of present-day Audi. It’s represented by one of the four rings in the Audi logo. Horch was a luxury brand that competed against Mercedes, and the 850 series boasted inline eight-cylinder engines beneath their long hoods.

Wenders and Lichte start with the “golden” 1920s as the era in which the cars were developed, describing it as an exciting time in history. A number of technological innovations — like the first mainframe computer, a long distance transatlantic flight for passenger airliners, and the advent of color film — contributed to the zeitgeist surrounding the Horch. Of course, all those things didn’t happen until the 1930s, like the Horch 850 series itself which debuted in 1935, but it’s understandable why a German company would not want to refer to the ’30s as a “golden” era.

We only get a few closeups of the Sky Sphere’s nose and rear. Rather than a distinct pair of head or taillights, they are illuminated with an array of individual lights. The front features an array of glowing elements of varying size that together form a semblance of a grille, even though there is no actual opening for air, or even an outline of one.

At the rear, dozens of red points span the trailing edge of the deck. Each one appears to be able to illuminate with different intensities independent from the others, forming a neat pulsing animation. Illuminated Audi logos accompany both sets of lights, a white one in front a red one at rear forming the CHMSL.

Audi has made lighting a signature trait of its cars, so it’s not surprising to see a dazzling light show from a flagship concept. Beyond that, we can infer some of the Sky Sphere’s themes from what Lichte calls out on the Horch — a long wheelbase, long bonnet, and minimal overhangs. Given its name, and the fact that the Horch 850 series was known for some stunning coach-built convertibles, the Sky Sphere could be open-top as well.

The Sky Sphere is the second of Audi’s three upcoming Sphere concepts. The trio has been created to show Audi’s future as they enter an electrified, autonomous world. The Grand Sphere sedan has been teased already, and the Sky Sphere will be revealed at Audi’s Malibu, California, studio on August 11. The final member, the Urban Sphere SUV, will follow.


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