The next Audi A8 may eschew its front-drive roots with a move to the Volkswagen Group's MSB, or Modular Standard Platform.
Audi's recently-appointed head of R&D, Wolfgang Duerheimer, has been handed responsibility for streamlining the VW Group's platforms and would surely have the 2016 A8 on his list.
The current A8 rides on the MLB platform, which also serves most of the Audi range from the A4 to the A7 as well as the Q5. MLB is the 'longitudinal' platform suited to mid-size front-wheel and four-wheel drive cars.
By contrast, MSB, or Modularer Standardantrieb-Baukasten is a front engine, rear-wheel drive platform, with the option to modify for mid-engine or rear-engine applications.
The common thread in the MSB is that the rear wheels are driven, matching the other heavyweight contenders from BMW and Mercedes. Naturally, all-wheel drive will remain an option.
The MSB architecture can also handle more power than MLB, another attractive feature for consideration for Audi.
The relatively low-volume A8 is ripe for consolidation into a group-wide strategy, spreading overall cost of development across three VW Group brands.
If the A8 were to switch to rear-wheel drive however, the MSB architecture would also force a switch to steel for its construction.
The current A8 is made up of a high proportion of aluminium. Aluminium is expensive, so switching to steel would make a huge difference to Audi's bottom line for the A8.
The next A8 is still at least four years away, so while a decision may still be due, it can't be long before the A8 platform is locked into either a push or pull equation.
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