Volkswagen is set to debut a mid-engine concept at this year's LA Auto Show, and an Audi R3 derivative that could replace the TT is reportedly also being considered. With Porsche's increased stake in VAG, it was just a matter of time before rumors of sharing this mid-engine platform between VW, Audi and Porsche began to surface, and a new model destined to slot in below the Boxster is the obvious conclusion.

Once again, CAR is leading the speculative charge, with sources suggesting that Porsche will use the mid-engine architecture to revive the 356 marque – not the 914 moniker – to create a baby Boxster priced around £20,000-35,000 and produced in very small numbers.

Unlike the stillborn Audi R4, the R3 and its Porsche sibling wouldn't encroach on Boxster sales due to their limited availability. Fixed roof and convertible versions of both models are planned, but engine choices would be limited to turbocharged four-cylinders displacing between 1.2- and 2.0-liters and ranging in output from 105 hp to 280 hp. Diesel variants could also be offered in the Audi, but Quattro all-wheel-drive wouldn't be part of package due to weight and friction penalties.

It's a very compelling proposition, particularly since the new architecture is reportedly being developed to accept everything from electric drivetrains to hybrids, and with a curb weight around 2,200 pounds. But don't expect anything to come to market until 2012 or 2013 at the earliest, assuming that Porsche doesn't get cold feet and kills off the project before it leaves the drawing board.

[Source: CAR]