Blame Dieselgate for this one.
The cash-hemorrhaging scandal known as Dieselgate broke out over a year ago, so why is it still big news in the industry? Because now the chickens are coming home to roost for the Volkswagen Group and its subsidiaries, and the implications are looking grimmer by the day. The ripple effects of losing billions in assets has already killed planned VW models and put the future of Audi's motorsports division in doubt. Now, as Autocar reports, it threatens to discontinue Audi’s MLB platform.
Since the 1980s, Audi has utilized the MLB platform, characterized by hanging the engine over and in front of the front axle, because it makes building a full-time AWD system relatively easy. As reliable as it is at accommodating Quattro, it’s a tad bit expensive for the Volkswagen Group because it requires different sorts of transmissions and calls for Group engines to be modified before being placed in MLB Audis. Just as it sounds, this is an expensive workaround. Making matters worse is the fact that placing the engine so far up front is a surefire way to kill steering feel and permanently damage handling capabilities. To make its cars handle better and cost less money to build, Audi will now be ditching the MLB platform.
MLB is used in cars like the A4, A7, and A8. In these cars, Audi will turn to Porsche and Volkswagen for replacement platforms. Smaller cars like the A4 and A5 will inherit Volkswagen's transverse engine MBQ platform while larger sedans like the A6 and A7 will have Porsche’s own MSB architecture, which is seen on the new Panamera. Making matters worse is that Audi will likely also drop the mid-engine platform that it uses for the R8. Once the current production cycle is over the supercar may not see a replacement, which has the dual effect of eliminating a well-loved supercar and putting a strain on Lamborghini when it comes time to replace the Huracan. For once, we actually feel sorry for VW.