Audi Activesphere Concept: The Future Is VR Sport Coupe SUV Pickupy Things

Audi Activesphere Concept: The Future Is VR Sport Coupe SUV Pickupy Things

A pair of Audi Activesphere concepts facing each otherIf you combined almost every type of vehicle Americans can buy in 2023 into a single thing on four wheels, you’d get the future of Audi.

The German luxury automaker has been teasing its future plans with a series of concept cars with the suffix sphere. None are spherical.

The cabin of the Audi Activesphere concept

Not a Real Car. Or Truck. Or SUV.

Automakers routinely build concept cars — one-off models meant to show possible future design directions but never intended for sale. We rarely bother to report on them because they’re not something you can buy.

But this is the fourth Audi-sphere car and the second one we’ve covered. The first earned an article because it’s like the Batmobile. Audi called it the Skysphere, not the Batsphere. But Batman calls himself Bruce, and you’re not fooled.

This latest concept is called the Activesphere, and we’re covering it because… it’s neat. And we’d like to see it built.

Straddles All the Categories

But we’d have a very hard time deciding which of our ranking lists it would fit into. It could legitimately claim a place in most of them.

The Activesphere looks like an elongated version of one of Audi’s coupe-like SUVs, like the Q5 Sportback. But no, it’s something like an A7 with an SUV’s ground clearance. Maybe it’s a sports coupe on big tires? We’re losing you, aren’t we?

The Activesphere has the body of a 4-door, fastback sport sedan with the ground clearance of an SUV. Audi calls it “a four-door crossover coupé with an astonishingly versatile body design.”

That versatility comes thanks to a secret. It has a hidden pickup truck bed. Really.

The Audi Activesphere concept with its hidden bed loaded

A Hidden Truck Bed

The glass of the sportback window slides up and over the roof, while the vertical rear surface that looks like a trunk opens downward like a pickup truck tailgate. The muddy bikes or bags of mulch you load into the bed can’t dirty the rear seats, Audi says, because “a motorized bulkhead deploys from behind the rear seats in order to isolate the cabin from the elements.”

That’s, frankly, a cool idea for a versatile take on the classic Australian Ute or the old-school El Camino for the 2020s.

VR Goggles, See-Through Front

Concept cars are usually filled with wacky ideas too extreme for production, and Audi hasn’t missed a beat with that aspect of the Activesphere.

It’s an electric vehicle, so all its running gear is hidden under the cabin floor. That let Audi build the space that ordinarily holds the grille as a transparent surface. The see-through surface gives “passengers an unobstructed view through the large frunk of the road in front of the vehicle,” Audi says.

A passenger in the Audi Activesphere concept uses virtual reality goggles to see the road in a mixed-reality view

But they won’t be looking through the frunk at the road. They’ll be looking in their built-in virtual reality headsets. Audi says the headsets — one for the driver and one for each passenger — “provide a view of the real environment and the route, while simultaneously displaying 3D content and interactive elements – individually configurable for drivers and passengers.”

A road game of “Beat Saber,” anyone?

Over 350 Miles of Range… Sort Of

Because concept cars are more fiction than fact, automakers can say anything they want about their performance. No journalist will ever test them on the road.

So, Audi says this one has an all-electric range of “well over 600 kilometers” (about 373 miles) and can recharge from 5% battery capacity to 80% in “less than 25 minutes.” Electric motors mounted to each axle give it all-wheel drive and 325 kilowatts (about 435 horsepower) to turn the wheels.

The Activesphere is almost certainly an intellectual exercise unlikely ever to see a sales floor. But the ultra-flexible body style is a great idea we’d love to see on the road someday.