As most Audi fans are aware, a new generation of A3 will debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Those in the know also probably know that the A3 and other Audi models with transverse engines like the TT and eventually the A1 will move to a new modular transverse matrix dubbed MQB.
If MQB sounds similar to Audi's already employed MLB (modular longitudinal matrix) that underpins or will underpin nearly every model from A4 on up, that's because it is. The grand experiment of MLB was pioneered at Audi under then director Martin Winterkorn. Winterkorn has since moved on to VW and his revolutionary idea has expanded with the next product grouping to benefit being the transverse cars. Much of the same flexibility in materials, dimensions and hardware is what we've seen from MLB already, while MQB also pioneers some new material joining and modular technologies that Audi has hinted about in its next generation of MLB dubbed MLB-Evo.
So what does MQB bring to the table for A3, TT and the like? We've already seen the A3's much upgraded infotainment systems at CES 2012 . A higher degree of use for multi-materials such as hardened steel, aluminum and even carbon fiber are also expected. Imagine an S3 with lighter aluminum roof or RS 3 with carbon fiber roof and panels. While not confirmed details, this sort of thing can and likely will happen.
Volkswagen is holding something akin to an Audi Tech Day this week in Wolfsburg, giving journalists a detailed view of the new MQB and its various component offerings. Fourtitude contributing editor and VWvortex.com editor-in-chief Jamie Vondruska is attending the event and will be providing more information upon his return. In the meantime, the Volkswagen Group has released the following press release with some of the basic details being presented. Read it below.
•*MQB exploits synergies in key technologies across vehicle classes and brands
•*MQB makes luxury class technologies accessible to high-volume models
Wolfsburg, 01 February 2012: This year, the Volkswagen Group will be introducing the Modular Transverse Matrix – the German acronym is MQB (Modularer Querbaukasten) – for the Volkswagen, Audi, ŠKODA and SEAT brands. The MQB strategy represents a turning point in the design and production of future automobiles with transverse-mounted engines. The Modular Transverse Matrix standardises many vehicle component parameters – across brands and vehicle classes. At the same time, it offers access to new technologies.
The MQB extends from the A0 to the B segment. At the Volkswagen brand, for example, it covers the following models: Polo, Beetle, Golf, Scirocco, Jetta, Tiguan, Touran, Sharan, Passat and Volkswagen CC. In the future, all of these models could theoretically be produced on the same assembly line – despite their different wheelbases and track widths. It will be possible to produce MQB models of different brands together. The first new vehicles to be produced based on the MQB will be the successor to the Audi A3 and the next generation Golf.
One of the prominent characteristics of the Modular Transverse Matrix is the uniform mounting position of all engines. Two systems integrated in the MQB strategy which play a key role here are the modular petrol engine system (MOB) with the new EA211 engine series (60 to 150 PS) – this range includes the world’s first four-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation (ACT) – and the modular diesel engine system (MDB) with the new EA288 engine series (90 to 190 PS). In one fell swoop, the new engine series will reduce the Group’s engine and gearbox variants in the MQB system by approximately 90 per cent, without a detrimental effect. On the contrary; in addition to standardising conventional internal combustion engines, the MQB also enables an identical mounting position for all current alternative drive concepts without limitations – from natural gas and hybrid versions to the pure electric drive. Volkswagen has already announced the launch of the latter within the MQB in 2013 in the new Golf Blue-e-Motion.
The MQB opens up new opportunities at the Volkswagen Group, allowing it to produce high-volume and niche models at the highest quality and extremely competitive costs over the long term and worldwide – vehicles that are individually tailored to the requirements of very diverse markets such as Europe, China and America, as well as emerging markets such as India. In parallel, the Volkswagen Group will significantly reduce vehicle weights with the launch of the first MQB model series and will introduce 20 innovations in the areas of safety and infotainment, which until now were reserved for higher vehicle segments.
They include the new multicollision brake; after an initial collision, it helps to reduce the intensity of secondary collisions by automatically initiated braking. Very recently, ADAC awarded this system the ‘Yellow Angel’ award for innovations. The multicollision brake will be standard equipment in the next generations of the Audi A3 and the Golf.
Within the Group, the MQB developed under the auspices of the Volkswagen brand is supplemented by the Modular Longitudinal System (MLB) from Audi, the Modular Standard System (MSB) with Porsche as the competence centre and finally the ‘New Small Family’ – the most compact vehicle model series with the Volkswagen up!, SEAT Mii and ŠKODA Citigo.
One indicator of the pioneering significance of the modular systems strategy and the innovative potential realised by these new vehicle and production architectures is that Volkswagen was selected as one of five finalists for the ‘Innovation Award of the German Economy – The World’s First Innovation Award®’ for its Modular Transverse Matrix. This prestigious award for outstanding technical, scientific and intellectual achievements has been awarded annually since 1980 by the Economics Club of Rhein-Main and since 2011 in conjunction with the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. On 11 February, the prize winners will be announced at the Palais 'Thurn und Taxis' in Frankfurt, Germany, by Günther Oettinger, EU Commissar for Energy.