• Oct 27, 2010
Fortitude has gone through the trouble of cutting through all of the rumors surrounding the future of mid-engined sports cars in the Volkswagen family. The site points to two different mid-engine platforms currently in development within the expansive Volkswagen ranks – one with a longitudinally-mounted engine layout and another with a transverse engine design. A number of models could make use of the side-saddle architecture, including the much-salivated-over Volkswagen BlueSport, though Fortitude says the chassis could also provide the bones for vehicles like a Porsche 914 or 356 successor as well as a new Audi racer that could sail under the R3 banner.
And what of that longitudinal design, you ask? This is where things get really fun. Fortitude says that the high-ups at Audi AG showed off a platform called the MSS on the hush-hush, and that the chassis could underpin everything from the next R8 to the Lamborghini Gallardo successor and the Porsche 918. It could even form the mold for whatever steps into the void left by the Murcielago.

Head over to Fortitude to get a closer look at the whole shebang, complete with excellent sketches of future models.

[Source: Fortitude]


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  • 13 Comments
      john
      • 4 Years Ago
      THESE TECHNOLOGIES ARE UTTERLY FASCINATING BUT TOTALLY GIMMICKY FROM ANY FUNDAMENTAL PERFORMANCE STANDPOINT. THE SIMPLE PRACTICAL PHYSICS IMPLIES THAT ENGINE MASS (AND G-FORCE FACTORS) HAVE GREATER STABILITY ON ONE AXLE OR THE OTHER- AS WELL AS EXTREME TRACTION ENHANCEMENTS. THERE ARE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES TO EACH AXLE, FRONT OR REAR, BUT CENTER FRAME OR OFF CENTER FRAME/OFF AXLE ENGINES NECESSARILY DESTABILIZE SUSPENSION AND SAG, STRETCH, BEND, AND BREAK FRAMES, SUB-FRAMES, AND UNDER-CARRIAGES. THIS IS ONLY COMPENSATED BY HIGH TECH FABRICATING MATERIALS IN ENGINE ALLOYS AND STRUCTURAL SYNTHETICS. IT CANNOT BE SOLVED. IT IS ONLY COMPENSATED. SORT OF LIKE CUSTOM MOTORCYCLES ARE BUILT TO LOOK GOOD AND GO FAST- AS LONG AS YOU DON'T REALLY DO IT OFTEN NOR ON SLIGHTLY IMPERFECT ROADS OR TERRAINS.
      • 4 Years Ago
      NOT PORSCHE.
      A Porsche should never have a transverse engine.
      The Boxster is the successor to the 550/718, and 914. All MID-ENGINED LONGITUDINAL BOXERS.

      The 911 is the successor to the 356, and continues to improve itself, and it is ALSO a longitudinal boxer layout, on the back side of the rear axle.

      Porsche does not need to go down market from the base Boxster on the 987 or successive longitudinal mid-engined chassis.

      VW and Audi can handle a transverse drivetrain. They both already use them. That makes sense. A BlueSport-like VW convertible, and an R4 or R3, or whatever they want to call it, as a coupe and convertible to replace the TT, and be a junior R8.

      The MSS chassis is still longitudinal, and makes more sense to be used as a modular architecture for Lamborghini, Porsche 918, and Audi R8.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Okay, now you're just sounding like a fanboy (I realize it's in your name and all, but still).

        The point is not to put down Porsche; the point is that world class handling can come with a transverse mid-engine layout, contrary to your whole rant. Hell, many of the best rally cars in existence used a transverse arrangement (Stratos, RS200, to name a couple).

        And if you're going to argue against a form based upon philosophy, then you've got the obvious problem with the 911 itself, the car that Porsche is built upon, in that the motor is in the wrong part of the car. If Porsche can manage to make that layout work (which they have, admirably) then surely a transverse mid-engine wouldn't be a death knell for the company.

        On a tangent, I do appreciate the fact that the Porsche/Audi transaxle is one of the last good ways to build a custom mid-engine V8 or V12 car. I hope they keep at it, if for no other reason than that.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Stacey.

        Engineering and performance goals are EXACTLY WHY it should not go transverse.

        The NSX is the only car that has even approached high thresholds of handling with a transverse engine. And most of the serious NSX race cars were converted to longitudinal drive, with the transmission in the central tunnel, and the separate differential behind the longitudinal engine placement.

        Suspension geometry is GREATLY improved without having to compromise for unequal length driveshafts, and a transaxle shifted to one side, and the engine to the other side.

        Transverse placement has space restrictions, increased heat soak, increased servicing difficulty, and smaller, more failure prone parts due to the heat and restricted space.

        Transverse drivelines were a compromise to make front-wheel-drive EASY TO MANUFACTURE. not because it was better performing. Mid-engine transverse applications are FWD drivetrains moved to a position aft of the interior. Again, a compromise to use an existing drivetrain in an alternate way.

        NSX, all modern mid-engined lotuses, Fiero, MR2 (all 3 generations), Fiat X19 were ALL derived from an existing FWD drivetrain layout, moved to the middle.

        Porsche 914 was NOT designed that way, it was designed to use Porsche's existing longitudinal layout. If transverse layouts were better, Porsche would be using them LONG before now. They are NOT. They are compromised, inherently.

        Porsches are supposed to be PORSCHES. They are supposed to be the best engineering for a particular format, not a compromise for popularity or ease.

        Porsches are not supposed to be everything to everyone. Quite the opposite. If you like Porsches, great. If you don't there are plenty of other cars on the market. But Porsche is supposed to do what Porsche does best, not what other car companies do. Porsche is not VW (brand), nor is it Audi, nor Lamborgini. Porsche is PORSCHE.

        There is a reason that most truly well designed, clean-sheet sports cars and premium luxury cars are not transverse layout. Ferrari doesn't anymore. Aston Martin doesn't (their stupid re-badged econo-sardine-can doesn't count. They didn't design or build it.) So far, BMW doesn't YET, if you count Mini separately. M-B doesn't for the most part.

        Engineering and purity of performance, is EXACTLY why I say that Porsche should never be transverse-engined.

        And it doesn't need to replicate VW cars, either. Buy the VW, and leave Porsche to build Porsches. The 914 and 924 didn't do that well when Porsche tried to sell cars that were supposed to be VWs or Audis. Porsche salvaged a little bit by putting a flat 6 in the 914, but it still looked odd. The 924 didn't really do that well until it got a Turbo, and the derived 944 got Porsche I4 and I4 Turbo engines, and were actually brought up to Porsche standards of performance. But BOTH of those families were still LONGITUDINAL drivetrains.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @BoxerFanatic: I agree with you regarding your analysis of the pros and cons of the transversally mounted engine and how it has performed in the past. No argument there at all.

        My point is simply that we shouldn't rule something out because of its perceived market reception (which is how I interpreted your initial post: suggesting that this orientation is down market and this would ding the Porsche Brand).

        Yes, there are known pros and cons for the transversally mounted engine. And there's no denying the history that we've seen. I'd simply like to throw out the idea that just because something wasn't ideal in the past doesn't mean it won't ever work in the future. Technology is always advancing and changing. Who knows, things could happen that suddenly make a transversally oriented engine THE way to do a performance car! Does that mean that because of its "economy car" past, Porsche should never be allowed to experiment with that?

        The engineers at Porsche are WAY SMARTER about this stuff than I am, and if they figured out a way to provide the performance and handling experience that puts pride behind the Porsche Mark, I'm all for that, and I really could care less which way the engine is pointed. (Actually, I love how Lotus takes engines from Toyota and turns these "econo-mills" into something really interesting. To me, that is pretty cool.)

        I also acknowledge that brand history can change over time. I own 2 older Volvos, built when Volvo was still its own company. There are quality features inherent in these vehicles that are not present in more recent Volvos, and as such, I probably won't buy another Volvo. The mark as strayed from my concept of what a Volvo should be. Its really irrelevant what I think Volvos should be, other than my decision not to buy one now. If enough people think the same, then Volvo might recognize that and swing back to their previous identity (something I think Saab is trying to do at the moment).

        I'll point out that the 914 and 944 aren't exactly considered crown jewels in the Porsche family tree, but I think Porsche learned from those experiences, and thus, if they are considering something different, they'll hopefully reopen those chapters of their history and be more proactive in protecting the brand's identity.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Engine placement and orientation should be arrived at by engineering and performance goals, not preconceived ideas of market value and tradition. I think automotive engineers should be given the freedom to try different things out, regardless of the brand they work for. The Lamborghini Miura has a mid-mounted, transversally oriented engine.

        If you want design by tradition, look no further than NASCAR. If you want creativity, ingenuity and innovation, give the engineers the freedom and forgiveness to explore and make some mistakes every now and then.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I respect where you're coming from, but you forgot one little thing:

        The Evora

        Evo seemed to think the Evora handled better than either of the two paragons of Porsche engineering, the GT3 and the Cayman:

        http://www.evo.co.uk/carreviews/cargrouptests/244864/lotus_evora.html
        http://www.evo.co.uk/carreviews/cargrouptests/235713/evora_v_cayman_v_farbio.html

        Clarkson seemed pretty impressed with it as well:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHcLP0wvENQ

        All that with a Camry V6, not even the superior (on paper) boxer motor, with its lower CG.

        One thing that the transverse motor has going for it in a mid-engine application is the polar moment of inertia. It is compact in the fore/aft direction, and even allows other parts of the car (like fuel tanks and batteries) to move inward.

        Another transverse layout benefit: engine torque does not rotate the car sideways. Torque can actually be set up to improve traction.

        So while I, too, like the idea of longitudinal motors, they aren't *always* best in practice.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @imag,

        We'll see if that holds when the 987 chassis (which pre-dates Evora's development, and probably served as Evora's benchmark for Lotus to specifically design for) gets upgraded, or replaced.

        And Evora still doesn't necessarily eclipse the Boxster Spyder's performance.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Maybe.....the new Karmann Ghia??
      • 4 Years Ago
      I see a mention of Nascar and even with so many restrictions and regulations by the sport, I wouldn't discount an entry into the Sprint Cup Series. The series doesn't have the engineering and performance caliber of other racing series, but having VW on track offering competition to the car industries top consumer automotive manufacturers would be great fun. I know this is in the rumor mill only right now, but this is a good blog which is trying to detail and collect the VW Nascar news for VW fans... http://www.getthemonthetrack.com
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