We’ve long known that Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen will each launch a unique, mid-engined roadster based on the same platform over the next few years. A new report from Autocar confirms that Audi’s version, dubbed the R4, will arrive by 2014 or 2015. It also reaffirms that the Volkswagen Bluesport and a Porsche version are still on track for production.
The three brands will all build their own version of the car, but the essential two-seat, mid-engine platform will be shared. Instead the cars will differentiate themselves with unique interior layouts, disparate styling, bespoke powertrains and, of course, big price differentials. As a result of the collaboration with Porsche, it’s possible the Audi and VW cars will be underpinned by some components from the next-generation Porsche Boxster.
We know the most about the R4, a sort of baby R8 which will slot between the TT and the R8 in Audi’s lineup. Its styling will be drawn heavily from that previewed by the Audi e-tron concepts. Although it will be about the same size as the minute Mazda MX-5, the R4 will likely be more expensive than equivalent trims of the front-engine TT.
Autocar says two new engines are under consideration for the R4. The first is an updated version of the current turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that pervades the VW/Audi lineup. It will reportedly receive variable valve timing and valve-lift control, helping it produce at least 230 hp and possibly as much as 280 hp. There may also be a variant of the turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-five used by the Audi TT RS and RS3 Sportback, modified for a scorching 350 hp. A diesel version, as well as a full-electric model, may arrive at a later date.
Volkswagen’s iteration of the convertible platform will be called the Bluesport, and may sacrifice some performance in favor of more efficiency. We learned that VW had green-lit the car for production in summer 2010. It will be the cheapest version of the roadster trio, and will probably be priced to compete directly with Mazda’s MX-5.
An earlier Bluesport concept used a 2.0-liter turbodiesel, returning up to 55 mpg and hitting 60 mph in 6.2 seconds. The production model will probably offer small turbocharged inline-four engines, possibly a 1.4- or 1.8- liter model with 170 to 200 hp. Technology like engine stop-start and regenerative braking is also sure to be fitted in order to make the Bluesport a frugal, eco-friendly roadster.
As we had long expected, Autocar says Porsche is planning their own small roadster based on the same mid-engine platform as the R4 and Bluesport. It will serve as an entry model to the Porsche brand, meaning it’s to be marginally cheaper and less powerful than the Boxster. Porsche is reportedly considering the name 550, a reference to the brand’s 550 Spyder of yore. The engine could be a new turbocharged flat-four making up to 380 hp — such an engine is reportedly in the works for the next-generation Boxster.
We’re still probably a few years away from the introduction of any of these new convertibles, but we’re excited about the proposed mid-engine layout and variety of powertrains. The availability of three different models from Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen means that customers in every tax bracket should be able to afford one of these sporty roadsters. The only remaining unknown is whether all three cars are coming to the U.S. market.