The Detroit car
The concept car's striking body is actually quite a bit smaller than an Audi TT. Measuring 155 inches in length, 70 inches in width and 4 feet in height, the coupe sits on a 95-inch wheelbase. The shape of the R5 e-tron, the work of Wolfgang Egger and Stefan Sielaff, may be a good indication of the real thing, but the technology underneath the pretty skin can at best be called provisional. I hit the starter button, and despite the two electric motors' combined 204 hp and the car's advertised 5.9-second 0-to-62-mph capability, nothing happens when I press the accelerator. Finally, a subdued whine indicates progress-in moderation. As its turns out, the maximum speed of this one-off is limited to 9 mph. Obviously, at this stage the R5 is still show car, not sports car.
Why Porsche will carry the ball
According to our spies, the real Mimo matrix is codenamed 9X1 and will be masterminded by Porsche. Predictably, you won't find anybody at Audi HQ who will admit this, because Ferdinand Piech himself has instructed Audi and Porsche to come up with two competing mid-engine components sets complete with design proposals and calculation papers, to be submitted by the end of the year. The best ideas will be pooled in a program that is bound to be masterminded by Porsche. After all, if Porsche is not allowed to develop the next-generation sports cars, VW might as well have not even bought the company in the first place. The 9X1 moniker suggests that the Weissach group intends to get this project under way as quickly as possible. The presently favored way to do this is by integrating Mimo into the highly flexible architecture under development for the next 911 (codename 991, due out in 2011) and the Boxster/Cayman replacement (codename 981, due in 2012).
More than just sports cars
From what we know today, the Mimo project will be tailored to meet the needs of VW, Audi, and Porsche. At VW, it will pick up the pieces of the stillborn Blue Sport roadster. At Audi, it will kick off the R5. At Porsche, it will help recreate a modern-day 356, which would be positioned below the Boxster.