Audi R5 e-tron: Finding Mimo

Greg Pajo

The Audi e-tron show car introduced in Detroit is powered by a couple of electric motors. But this blue beauty does not portend electric propulstion. If this car does go into production, it will most likely be fitted with a turbocharged five-cylinder, and it will be one of an exciting family of mid-engine cars.

What's Mimo? It's not a new cartoon hero; instead, Mimo is an abbreviation for Mittelmotor, German for mid-engine. Mention Mimo, and you're sure to get the attention of the strategists and engineers based in Wolfsburg (Volkswagen), Weissach (Porsche), and Ingolstadt (Audi). That's because Mimo denotes one of the hottest future projects under development at the VW group. An early precursor is Audi's e-tron sports-car concept that was unveiled at the January 2010 Detroit auto show.

Separating e-tron fact from fiction
To set it apart from the red, R8-based e-tron (seen at the 2009 Frankfurt Show), we took the liberty to add a clarifying R5 suffix to the ice-blue Detroit e-tron. R5 seems a more appropriate designation than R4, because for this car the inline five has the inside track over a four-cylinder, which is reserved for the TT. What about the concept car's electric motors? They were chosen primarily for political reasons. You see, Audi wanted to show the world its e-competence, with a range of vehicles, from the small A1 e-tron (displayed in Geneva), to the R5 e-tron, to the R8 e-tron. In reality, however, only the R8 e-tron is headed for production (next year, in very low volumes). Neither the electric A1 nor the plug-in R5 are anything but show pieces at this point. Instead of an electric A1, Audi is preparing a battery-powered version of the A2 (the minicar derived from the VW SpaceUp!). And instead of the R5 e-tron, a compact, gasoline-powered, mid-engine, two-seat sports car is being considered as part of the Mimo fami

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