The latest "Deep Dive" column over on Automobile Magazine's website is exemplary of what we've come to expect from German auto journalist Georg Kacher. The piece is long-looking... 2016 A8 long-looking, and includes information of an A9 coupe and roadster.
It probably goes without saying here but we'll revisit... Kacher is wired into the management at Audi and its parent Volkswagen Group better than most other journalists out there. When he speaks we listen in an E.F. Huttonish manner.
The context of the latest story is the recent maneuvering of responsibilities inside the Volkswagen Group. The story, or rumors of the story, began back in December when Automotive News Europe (ANE) reported about the awarding of Porsche with developmental control of the Volkswagen Group's sportscar chassis component set (believed to be MSS) and the group's upcoming large car platform (reportedly MSM but now referred to by Kacher as MSB) that will underpin future large cars such as the Porsche Panamera and future Bentleys.
Kacher goes further to detail the cars that may be developed using the so-called MSB chassis component set. These include:
• Porsche Panamera Replacement and derivatives
•*Bentley Continental GT, GTC and Flying Spur Replacements (expected 2014)
• Next-Generation Bentley Mulsanne, Azure and Brooklands
•*Full-Size Lamborghini coupe/sedan (expected 2017)
•*New "small" Bentley family positioned below Continental family (expected 2015)
<b>•*Audi A8 replacement and A9 coupe and roadster (expected 2016)</b>
• Bugatti Galibier Sedan
•*Next-Generation Volkswagen Phaeton (unless VAG opts to base on Audi A6/A7).
<b>So what is MSB and why would Audi send A8 off to roost there?</b>
According to Kacher, MSB will be more of a mid-front engine configuration with rear or all-wheel drive options. Kacher suggests the flagship Audi A8 will benefit from much more improved handling as a result of this new chassis configuration though it may have to ditch its ASF as Kacher suggests this new setup will not be a space frame but rather have a mix of structural materials perhaps not unlike the current A7.
There's another reason says Kacher, and that likely explains why the A8 would migrate to MSB relatively soon given the current car was just launched last year. The A8 currently accounts for 40,000 sales annually and that target is expected to grow. Adding this volume to MLB will help Porsche reach economies of scale. Also, and this is quite interesting, MSB will be fully compatible with Audi's MLB meaning many matrices such as electronics, etc. could be carried over and shared between other Audi models.
MSB will also make use of a family of new engines. Kacher hints that Porsche will take over development of most V6s and V8s. These new engines are expected to hit the market in 2012 and 2013 first in the Panamera and Cayenne and will include a 3.0-liter biturbo (420 hp and 415 lb-ft), 3.6-liter V6 (500 hp and 500 lb-ft) and a 4.8-liter V8 (600 hp and 590 lb-ft)
Want to Dive Deeper? Check out Kacher's story plus several background stories we've published below.
Full Story - Georg Kacher Deep Dive at Automobile
Full Story - Bugatti Sedan to Share Chassis with A8 from Der Spiegel
Full Story - Porsche Named Winner of Development Bid from Automotive News
Full Story - Intel Report on VAG Sportscar Development from Fourtitude