How much bigger can wheels get, really?
It wasn't so long ago when the typical vehicle wheel sized measured at around 15 inches. Then came the 18-inch wheels, which seemed massive at the time. Today, it's not at all uncommon to see 20-inch wheels come standard and up to 22-inch units being optional, at least on high-end premium models. Question is, can wheels get any bigger? Yes, absolutely. Engineering and manufacturing is not a problem, but according to Audi's design boss, anything larger than 23-inch wheels "makes no sense."
Marc Lichte spoke to Motor Authority about this subject and he stated that as Audi moves further and further towards electrification, wheel sizes will either remain the same size or, perhaps, even become smaller. Doing so would allow designers to package EVs with larger interiors. "Package wise, I would say this is definitely close to the limit," Lichte said.
For example, the all-new 2021 Audi RS Q8 comes with 23-inch wheels and Lichte believes this size will stick around for another five years or so. Now, Audi's RS models are its best in terms of performance and style, so it wants to make sure they look incredible. Massive wheels certainly help. In fact, Audi offers its RS models with wheels that are at least 1-inch larger than those of non-RS models.
For example, the largest wheels you can get on an A6 are 21 inches, but the RS6 Avant has 22-inch wheels. And when there are bigger wheels comes, of course, bigger tires. Take the RS Q8 as another example. Its tires, measuring 295/40, are the largest ever used on a production Audi road car.
For anyone holding out hope for 24-, 25-, or even 26-inch wheels on an Audi, it's probably best to end those hopes now. Interestingly, Lichte's comments come not long after GM's design chief, Michael Simcoe, stated in an earlier interview that we should get ready for 26-inch wheels. His reasoning was this: "The wheel style will be styled to suit the vehicle itself, so pretty much anything goes."