On Thursday, Audi revealed the Grandsphere: a four-door EV concept the brand describes as “a private jet for the road” that it plans to bring to the IAA show in Munich next week. As you can see, it’s obscenely massive.
At 17.6 feet long, the Grandsphere is only a foot shorter in length than a Chevy Suburban, and equally as wide at 6.6 feet. It also cuts a fastback-esque profile, and is designed around the idea of Level 4 autonomy. It is, quite simply, a mess of contradictions.
The interior, Audi says, is the heart of the Grandsphere. “The drive system and the handling are no longer at the top of the design specifications in this new generation of cars,” the press release reads. “Instead, the starting point is the interior, the occupants’ living and experience sphere while traveling.”
This explains why you won’t see a steering wheel in some of these renderings; it’s hidden behind a panel in the dashboard when it’s not needed. The rear passenger doors are rear-hinged; they also look vaguely half the size of the front doors, which are ridiculously long. There’s a potted plant inside, because we’ll all have exactly one plant inside our cars in the future. There’s also a lot of wood and light-toned fabric. It looks like a pleasant place to be, with all the warmth of the nicest demo room at Ikea. Well, mostly for the front-seat passengers, because those in the back have to share a flat-ass bench seat.
Indeed, Audi says the Grandsphere is shaped by the experience inside — which isn’t really meant for driving, because you won’t be doing that most of the time. Everything beyond that, we’re told, is secondary. If that’s the case though, I have to wonder why the exterior looks the way it does. If maximal space and comfort is the objective, why is there an absurdly long rear overhang when the roof could continue all the way to the back? Hell — if this is an EV, why is there so much room up front for a hood?
EVs could be giant boxes on wheels, especially if they’re intended to be autonomous robotaxis or whatever. But that historically hasn’t rustled the public’s jimmies. And so I feel like Audi’s on this mission to prove that EVs can be just as irrational as the ginormous American coupes of the mid-to-late 20th century. Who’s going to lust after an EV that makes sense?
Of course Audi’s far from the only offender here, and we’ve even seen this behavior play out on more ordinary production cars. Like the Kia EV6, a totally inoffensive-looking crossover that will apparently hit 60 mph from a standstill in 3.5 seconds in GT trim. It doesn’t need to do that, but if it didn’t, a hell of a lot fewer people would be talking about it.
Audi says the Grandsphere is built upon its Premium Platform Electric architecture, which supposedly grants it 120 kWh battery capacity, 800-volt charging and a range of 466 miles. In theory, anyway, because concepts like these are all about the theoretical. The specs really don’t matter, and the fact it doesn’t make sense makes all the sense in the world.