volkswagen ecoracer concept 010

volkswagen ecoracer concept 010

Volkswagen is reportedly working on an affordable mid-engine sports car along the lines of the Lotus Elise and Toyota MR2, which it plans to release sometime early next decade. A concept of the car is slated for debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month, and now Audi is also reported to be considering the platform for its own use - but Porsche's entry into the VW Group picture may limit the chance such a project has for reality.

The car is expected to be designed for both coupe and roadster bodystyles, and if it goes to production, it could be outsourced to an independent vehicle manufacturer such as Karmann. The information came from the boss of VW, Martin Winterkorn, several months ago - before the Porsche takeover of VW. Now plans for the car may be somewhat less certain, reports Automobile. Though Porsche has said it won't kill off any of the models currently sold by Audi (or implicitly, VW), it hasn't said it won't stop future cars from competing with its own.

The Boxster and Cayman, for example, could be threatened by an affordable, German-built, mid-engined roadster/coupe. With a price target of $25,000-$45,000 for the VW version of the car, and performance goals of the Lotus Elise range, such a car would be highly desirable. One way around this competition issue could be timing: by releasing the car will into the development cycle of the Boxster, VW could find itself a safe niche that wouldn't cut into Porsche's sales, though such a plan could only realistically work once.

The new concept is moving forward, however, and is being developed under the supervision of VW design chief Walter de' Silva. It will be used to gauge public opinion in preparation for development of the final production version. VW has a tradition of rolling out extravagant roadster concept vehicles and then packing them away, never to be seen again, however an inside source has revealed to AutoWeek that this time ‘round the concept will be given the green light.

To keep production costs low, the car will share parts with a number of existing VW models and there’s speculation that it may even spawn an Audi variant, the long-rumored R4. Elements unique to the cars will be an aluminum-spaceframe chassis, a mid-engine and RWD layout, and a range of high-output 2.0L forced-induction engines. There’s talk that even Porsche could build a version of the car as a successor to the 1970’s 914.

Previous VW roadster concepts that were never given the green light for production include 2003’s Concept R, a high-end roadster penned by the company’s former design guru Peter Schreyer, as well as 2005's Eco Racer (pictured) study, both conceived during the tenure of former VW board chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder, whose goal of a mid-engine sports car at VW may finally be realized.