On again. Off again. On again. Off again. When last we heard intel on the much-rumored and much-lusted-for mid-engine Audi R5 (rendered above and proposed baby brother to the R8), the project was dead... done... kaput. Now the often extremely well connected Georg Kacher has published his latest Deep Dive column in Automobile Magazine and the piece says otherwise.
In the piece, Kacher outlines the major platform sets and the products they'll spawn... MQB (transverse engine cars like TT, A3, etc.), MLB (longitudinal engine cars such as A4, Q5, A8, etc.) and MLB (mid-engine front, mid-engine rear and rear engine cars). Under MSB Kacher still lists the R5 along with proposed siblings from Porsche and VW (Bluesport).
<b>So What Do We Think?</b>
Our most recent intel on R5 came from quattro GmbH product boss Stephan Reil. At the Geneva Motor Show, Reil told those of us at a journalist roundtable that the car wouldn't be built because there wasn't enough room between the TT RS and the R8 to make it work. When we pointed out that there is the difference of a second TT RS in between a highly optioned TT RS and a base R8, Reil clarified that the lack of space in between is based upon performance and not price. It's a known fact that the stock TT RS is nearly as fast as an R8 4.2 and with chip tuning it might very well be faster. Point made.
So why is Kacher still mentioning the car? We're guessing this is a political struggle. The VW Bluesport concept, which the R5 was envisioned to share components with, was based on an MQB derived mid-engine transverse layout. Most components were pulled from the MQB component set that was then in development in order to keep costs down.
Since that time, Porsche has been more thoroughly integrated and has been given development control over MSB - a mid-engine configuration that thus far has been suggested to be longitudinal only and with front engine (Bentley, Porsche Panamera, etc.), mid-engine (Boxster, Cayman, third-generation R8, etc.) and rear-engine (next full generation 911). By moving the higher volume R5, Bluesport and "baby Boxster" to MSB, Porsche developers will be able to realize better economies of scale on parts acquisition so long as the platform proves flexible enough to shrink to the presumably smaller size and low-cost parameters needed to make the price targets planned on something as low-priced as a Miata fighter from VW.
From the outside it looks like the second-generation R8 and Gallardo (believed MSS component set) will be once and done on this architecture and then quickly move to the MSB that has been gathering momentum internally.
Will the R5 happen? This depends upon the political winners and whether or not the car's proponents have there wherewithal to bring it forward. Frankly, we hope it does. We love the TT and its most potent TT RS iteration but this is more of a small GT (read baby brother to RS 5) than it is a baby exotic. An R5 might very well be identical to the TT RS in performance but we still think it could command a price premium due to the expected exotic nature, lower volume and more on-the-edge driving dynamic we'd expect from something more akin to an R8 than a TT.
Read more of the Kacher Deep Dive after the jump.
Georg Kacher Deep Dive on Volkswagen Group Platforms at Automobile Magazine