Audi Activesphere is an all-electric off-road A7 of the future

27th January 2023
Ethan Jupp

Audi has revealed the last of its ‘Sphere’ series of Concept cars, with this one perhaps the wackiest of the lot. Sort of an A7 Allroad of the future, sort of a pickup truck, this is the Audi Activesphere Concept, the likely result of the design team getting on the wines and watching a bit of the Dakar.


Look beyond the chunky wheels and tyres, jacked-up ride height, rubberised lower areas and ‘active back’ (we’ll get to that in a minute), this is probably the closest of the Spheres to a preview of a production car of the future. Riding on the incoming PPE modular architecture that’s set to underpin the next Porsche Macan and Audi A6, this could well be a read-between-the-lines preview of what the next Audi A7 will look like.

Anyway, what makes this thing ‘Active’, anyway? Those 22-inch wheels and knobbly thick-walled off-road tyres are a good start, as are the poke-out rubber arches and checkered rubbered lower area with which to bounce off road faces. Perhaps the star of the show is, as mentioned, the ‘Active Back’, which is a downhill biker’s delight. That’s because where you’ll find the lifting hatchback on an Audi A7, on the Activesphere, you’ll find a sliding panel that can reveal a load area good for two e-bikes – for if that last-mile journey happens to be to the mouth of a volcano – a decent haul of firewood or anything else you care to chuck in. Closed up, the Activesphere has a tapered tail that’s slipperier even than the A7 and Audi E-Tron GT.

These Sphere concepts are, however, very much focused on interior design and autonomous driving and are often studies in how the cabins of future Audis can evolve as the act of driving takes more and more of a back seat. In this case, they’ve gone for ‘functional minimalism’, the two-tone orange and black colourway on the individual seats is pretty out there, as the suicide doors flare to greet occupants. Per the other concepts, this one is also able to retract its driver controls including the wheel and pedals, when the level four autonomous driving capability takes over, turning the cabin into a lounge space of sorts. 


A new way to interact with the car is called ‘Audi Dimensions’, which uses mixed-reality headsets that are individual to each passenger. This really is the flagship feature of the Activesphere and is the first of its kind seen in a car. Audi Board of Management for Technical Development member Oliver Hoffmann, said “the most important technical innovation in the Audi Activesphere is our adaptation of augmented reality for mobility. Audi Dimensions creates the perfect synthesis between the surroundings and digital reality”.

For the occupants, virtual control imagery will be integrated into the very real cabin that surrounds them. To interact all you need to do is focus on what you’re interested in and it’ll bring up interactive options, which can be interacted with via gestures. These virtual points of interaction have directly informed that ‘functional minimalism’, with Audi able to rid the cabin of the usual clutter.

There’s more fun to be had with the AR too, beyond controlling in-car media and climate. In off-road mode, the Activesphere can actually project topography graphics onto the world around the car for those wearing the headsets. Likewise, key navigation information takes its place ‘outside’ the car too.


Back to that PPE 800-volt architecture, Audi claims the 100kWh battery pack is good for 372 miles of range and can add 185 miles of range in ten minutes thanks to 270kW charging. Power is 445PS (327kW) thanks to an electric motor at each axle, making the Activesphere good for 0-62mph in under five seconds. The underpinnings of this quite wacky concept are very real and will be hitting both Audi and Porsche showrooms, over the next couple of years, first in the Q6 e-tron and Macan.

As for whether the Activesphere will spawn a direct production version? It seems unlikely, although the Audi high-ups are reported to be enamoured with it. The marque has a busy few years ahead, with the A3, A4, A6, A7, Q5 and Q7 all due new-generation launches. For now, we can at least take comfort that this design will see showrooms, albeit without the active stuff and we suspect, the retractable controls 

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