Deep Dive: Volkswagen Group's Product Plans

MLB - The four rings' fighting power

(FWD/AWD, longitudinal-engine architecture)

Despite being slated to underpin vehicles ranging in size from Audi's mainstream A4 up to its flagship A8 sedan and everything in between, the MLB architecture will pull and stretch in every which way to flex Audi's product-planning muscle. No surprise then that the four rings will be championing the creation of the MLB platform, given that almost all of its models will ride on this architecture.

  • B9-generation Audi A4, due in 2014
    • The new A4 arrives as part of a lighter and more flexible MLBevo matrix. It will be the first Audi to offer a plug-in hybrid and with e-quattro (electrically driven rear wheels).
    • The rest of the A4/A5 lineup will follow as such:
      • A5 coupe, 2014
      • A4 Avant, early 2015
      • A5 Cabriolet, 2016
      • A5 Sportback (four-door coupe for Europe only), 2016
  • Audi A6
    • In 2015 the A6 will be sent to the beauty clinic. Long-term, Audi is determined to say goodbye to the cookie-cutter design philosophy that crafts the same DNA element onto each and every vehicle. Instead, there will be a much clearer difference between A4, A6, and A8 sedans in particular, as well as between the A, R, and Q ranges.
  • Audi A8
    • The A8 will undergo an extensive facelift in the spring of 2014. Design-wise, this is practically a new car (similar to what Mercedes-Benz is doing with its E-Class refresh) and will remain in production until 2017.
  • Audi Q5, minor facelift this summer
    • Joining the Q5 in late 2015 will be the Q6 -- a coupe-like sister of the next-gen Q5 (think the kind of relationship of BMW X5 to X6).
  • Audi Q7
    • Due in 2014 is an all-new Q7 that will shed the pounds and become more efficient than the current, first-generation model.
    • As a surprise to almost no one, the Q7 will inevitably be joined by the BMW X6-fighting a Q8 coupe sibling.
  • Audi Q2, due in late 2013
    • Previously known as the Q1, the Q2 crossover is not based on the A3, as one would assume. Instead it will use a cropped version of the MLB platform underpinning Audi's larger cars and SUVs.
  • Volkswagen Phaeton, 2015
    • Still sold in its home market, the superluxe Volksie has been facelifted about half a dozen times since its debut in 2002. For its successor, marketing would love to try out a five-door Phaeton CC (modeled after the original Concept D styling exercise from 1999), but a traditional three-box sedan is probably more realistic. No more W-12 and V-8 engines for this model, however.
    • Rumor has it that a wagon variant is tipped to follow the sedan, to the marketers may just get that fifth door after all, albeit in a more conservative package.
  • Third-gen VW Touareg, due in 2016
    • The new Touareg will share its gene pool with the next Audi Q7 (see above), Porsche Cayenne, and the forthcoming Lamborghini crossover and the production version of the ungainly Bentley EXP 9 F Concept.

MSB - How would you like your rear-wheel drive?

(RWD/AWD, front-, mid-, or rear-engine architecture)

Conspicuously absent from VW Group's other two platforms are the group's halo brands - with the exception of the Cayenne and the EXP 9 F, it seems that Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini are missing out on VW's engineering revolution. (Of course, it is assumed that Bugatti will continue to use its own bespoke engineering.) That is why Porsche's engineers are the masterminds behind the MSB platform that will underpin all of the group's rear-wheel drive based cars. MSB will come in three flavors, all depending on where the engine is places: front, mid, or rear.

  • MSB-M - mid-engined, rear- and all-wheel drive
    • Porsche 960, a four-door coupe due in late 2015. The 960 will be the lead car for the new MSB-M platform; it has been dubbed "Fefi," for Ferrari fighter, and will use a twin-turbo flat-six not a V-8.
    • VW Bluesport/Audi R5/Porsche Speedster, no confirmed timeframe yet to the on-again/off-again nature of the project; however, the most recent reports say that the "Mimo" project is still very much alive and kicking.
    • Next-gen 982 Porsche Boxster/Cayman -- despite the current 981-generation Boxster just debuting at the Geneva show (and the Cayman yet to premiere) the next-gen is already well underway.
    • Lamborghini Aventador replacement - similar to the Boxster/Cayman, the current Aventador is only just out of the gate. Expect this to be one of the last new models from the first round of MSB-M cars, given the long average lifespan of the Raging Bull's V-12 flagships.
    • Eventual follow-ups to the still-to-be-renewed Audi R8 and Lamborghini Gallardo.
    • At least the R8 is getting a facelift next year to help keep it fresh.
  • MSB-F - front-engined, rear- and all-wheel drive
    • Starting in 2017, we'll see the third-generation of the Bentley Continental range. All three models (GT coupe, GTC convertible, and Flying Spur sedan) have been renewed again.
    • Baby Porsche Panamera: known so far as the Pajun, the BMW 5 Series-rivaling Porsche could also spawn a smaller Bentley sedan, though that car has yet to be confirmed.
    • Second-generation Porsche Panamera -- you'll have to wait a while for this one, as the current Panamera only just finished rolling out its full model line at the end of last year with the Panamera GTS, and the facelift for the range will start no earlier than late next year.
  • MSB-H - rear-engined, rear- and all-wheel drive
    • Surprise! At this point, the rear-engine is and will remain to be exclusive to the Porsche 911 and its 20-something variations. The MSB-H will underpin the follow-up to the just-released 991-generation 911, so don't expect to see this any time before 2017.

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Call me crazy, for the Phaeton I will be lined up, cash in hand, in 2015. Just sold my '05 Phaeton, there was something special about that car. But no V8? Huh.
"The VW Group has put a strong emphasis on emotional values like driving pleasure, strong perceived quality, exciting design, and engineering excellence." Are you sure? The current US-only Jetta and Passat are about as exciting to look at as a refrigerator and just about as fun to drive. VW and Audi have spotty quality records. And how can VW claim to put an emphasis on engineering excellence when the Mercedes E Class is a rolling IT lab, Nissan has the Leaf electric car, and Toyota has a superior hybrid?
I have a 2004 Audi allroad V8. Even though the air suspension DOES require replacing the front air springs, say, every 5 years or so, I love this feature. Are we in the US going to get a replacement A6 based model?
Not a word about Volkswagen Concept R. Is that a dead concept?

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