Deep Dive: Porsche takes control of sports car development at VW Group

A Lamborghini Gallardo developed by Porsche? How about a Stuttgart-engineered Audi R8? It could happen under a new plan that puts Porsche in charge of sports car development for all Volkswagen Group brands.

The decision comes as part of VW Group’s overall plan to streamline its brand and engineering structure. Although Porsche is the newest member of the family, its expertise in sports car engineering apparently made it the natural choice to develop a common components set for the Group’s many sports cars.

In the near term, the decision will have little impact. After all, the next 911 and the second-generation Boxster/Cayman are virtually complete, the follow-ups to the R8/Gallardo/Murcielago are also past their freeze points, and project Mimo — better known as Audi R5/VW Blue Sport/Porsche 550 (previously rumored to be named 356) — has only recently been transferred to Porsche.

Looking farther out, creating a common DNA for all these models and for others not yet mentioned here is a huge challenge for the Porsche engineers under their new chief Wolfgang Hatz, who used to be the number-one engine guy at VW. The biggest potential stumbling block is the sheer complexity of the future sports car range for which MSS, as the sports car components set is called, must act as an umbrella. In an ideal world, this multifaceted work-in-progress should yield the following models:

VW Blue Sport, Audi R5, Porsche 550. The Porsche version will be positioned under the Boxster/Cayman and will be powered by a four-cylinder boxer engine, likely a turbocharged 1.9-liter good for some 210 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. Audi will likely use a five-cylinder and shoot for a (higher) price somewhere between that of the TT and the R8. The VW version will almost certainly use a 180-hp four-cylinder and will incorporate parts from mainstream VWs in an effort to keep the costs down.

Next Boxster/Cayman/911 (2018/19). The current Cayman/Boxster, due in 2011 and 2012, won’t be part of the MSS program but may be integrated to some degree during the mid-cycle refreshing in 2016.

High-end Porsche sports car to be positioned between the 911 and the upcoming 918, internally dubbed New V8 GT. This is the hottest project the Weissach wizards currently have up their sleeves. It could have much in common with the next R8 and Gallardo.

Follow-ups to the R8/Gallardo/Aventador, which are still far off but need to be integrated before 2020.