The Audi urbansphere concept is a large multipurpose vehicle designed for Chinese megacity commuting.
Six seats, lounge-like second row, plush and spacious interior.
Fully electric powertrain with 396 horsepower, along with a 750-km (466-mile) driving range.
Getting around busy megacities has never been a walk in the park. Traffic, noise, pedestrians, detours, pollution—the urban jungle rarely offers a serene driving experience. To maintain your Zen state while you drive the kids to school, head for work or need to hit that downtown boutique for a flash sale, the Audi urbansphere concept will show you how it’s done.
It’s just a concept, of course, so don’t expect the urbansphere to turn up in Audi showrooms anytime soon. However, it’s part of the brand’s vision of the future, the last element of the German automaker’s trifecta of concept vehicles that includes the Audi skysphere concept roadster unveiled in August 2021 an the Audi grandsphere concept saloon revealed in September.
It’s worth noting that the Audi urbansphere concept is the biggest designed by the company so far. It can be considered a large utility vehicle, but also a van or multipurpose vehicle which, unlike the North American market, China appreciates. And during its sneak preview with members of the media, Audi may have mentioned six or 22 times that the urbansphere was designed with Chinese megacities in mind.
The urbansphere was conceived from the inside out, meaning the cockpit is the main focus here. It has three rows of seats, though the two rearmost ones are so futile that you can’t even see them in the pictures, yet Audi says they’re nonetheless very usable. The front occupants are obviously coddled, but passengers in the second row get the best seats in the house—which can be swivelled, reclined and complemented with extendable leg rests.
Inside, the Audi urbansphere concept features a plush environment with wood trim, wool and synthetic textile fabric, along with thick carpeting, mixing beige, gray and green. There’s a motorized center console revealing a beverage dispenser, while second-row occupants benefit from adjustable head collars with integrated speakers, curved front seatback-mounted screens, in addition to an overhead transparent OLED cinema-type display. The company says it’s a third living space between home and the office.
Meanwhile, facial scans and voice analysis can determine how occupants are feeling and suggest personalized ways to relax. Such as a meditation app, for example.
Up front, someone can take the wheel and drive themselves, but when the fully autonomous drive system is activated, the steering column disappears, leaving an uncluttered and more spacious environment.
On the outside, the Audi urbansphere concept rides on a 3,400-millimetre (133.9-inch) wheelbase, with outer dimensions set at 5,510 mm (216.9 inches) in length, 2,010 mm (79.1 inches) in width and a 1,780-mm (70.1-inch) high roofline. The vehicle obviously boasts a fully electric powertrain and the brand’s PPE platform that will underpin its bigger vehicles in a few years. There’s a motor at each axle, producing a combined 295 kW or 396 horsepower, along with 690 Nm or 509 pound-feet of torque. Its 800-volt architecture allows for charging speeds of up to 270 kW and a 300-km (186-mile) range boost after 10 minutes of charging in the best conditions. The brand says the urbansphere has a 120-plus-kWh battery pack and a driving range of up to 750 kilometres (466 miles). An adaptive air suspension and four-wheel steering are included.
Exterior design highlights include a fake widemouth grille with integrated and animated lighting, a liftgate with speckled animated LEDs as well, along with red carpet ground illumination as we approach the barn-style side door openings. It’s fitted with 24-inch wheels while featuring a short front overhang, but a long rear overhand for an in-motion look. It’s all complemented by a two-tone paint job.
The Audi urbansphere concept was supposed to be unveiled in the flesh at this year’s Beijing auto show, but the event was cancelled due to a recent COVID-19 outbreak in China. Too bad, as the vehicle seems to hit the target in regard to the Chinese market. After all, multipurpose vehicles are desirable rides over there, as the luxurious Buick GL8 and Lexus LM are both exclusive to that particular country. Would markets such as North America be interested in the urbansphere even though it wasn’t conceived for them? Maybe, maybe not, but along with the skysphere and grandsphere concepts, this is Audi’s vision of the future of luxury motoring.