Harry Leahey

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Audi has unveiled the latest in its line-up of ‘sphere’ concepts, which include the Grandsphere luxury saloon, the Skysphere roadster and the Urbansphere electric MPV.

Dubbed the Activesphere, the electric high-riding SUV blends a slick couple-like look with rugged design cues.

It comes ahead of Audi’s ambitious plans to launch more than 20 new electric cars over the next three years as it aims to revamp its line-up. 

The Activesphere could be part of these plans as it signals the firm’s intentions to compete with robust high-riders, such as the Land Rover Defender and the G-Glass from Mercedes. 

It measures 4.98 metres in length, has a low ground clearance and all-terrain tyres - a nod towards its off-roading abilities. 

With the press of a button, its air suspension system can be elevated by 80mm, allowing it to tackle rough terrain with approach and departure angles of 18.9 and 28.1 degrees. 

When the car is raised, body cladding emerges from the bumpers and sills to protect against damage, though these motorised features are unlikely to come on a production version. 

However, the Activephere's micro-LED lighting system, which includes two daytime running light signatures and a dynamic star-like effect, looks more likely to feature.

The Activesphere also has a deployable rear deck that can be used to carry large items.

In terms of power, the car has an electric motor on each axle and a combined output of 436bhp and 720 Nm of torque, allowing it to reach 62mph in 4.9 seconds. 

The car also has a 100 kWh battery pack that provides a claimed range of over 373 miles. It can be rapidly charged in under 25 minutes, with a 10-minute charge providing an additional 186 miles of range. 

The Activesphere's interior utilises augmented reality technology, with occupants wearing AR glasses that display performance information for the driver, as well as infotainment and virtual assistant controls -  replacing traditional screens and gauges. 

The dashboard and steering wheel only appear when the driver is ready to take control ahead of some off-road driving for example, suggesting that Audi expects the car to be primarily operated in autonomous mode. 

It is based on Audi's forthcoming PPE platform for electric cars, which is another strong indication that Audi could bring the Activephere into production at some point in the future.

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Harry Leahey 27/01/23