AUBURN HILLS, MI – Despite the fact that Porsche is the new majority shareholder of the Volkswagen Group, Audi continues to pursue an ambitious sports car strategy. In addition to the just-introduced R8, Audi is now looking at two additional mid-engine R models. While a proposed R6, aimed squarely at the Porsche Cayman, has been put on the back burner, the smaller R4 has just entered the initial evaluation phase, according to


Audi believes it can sell some 35,000 such vehicles a year. For even more volume, Audi could team up with Spanish carmaker Seat, which is also part of the VW family.

Quattro all-wheel drive would be standard on the R4, and the company’s dual-clutch gearbox and magnetic dampers would also be available. As with the R8, Audi would like to add a convertible later in the car’s lifecycle.

Unlike the aluminum-intensive R8, the R4 is expected to feature a spaceframe structure made of high-strength steel. The body panels would rely on a mix of aluminum and synthetic elements. The engine of choice is said to be the turbocharged 2.0L four, which delivers 200 hp in the TT and 270 hp in the upcoming TTS. For even more power, the 350-hp, 2.5L turbocharged five earmarked for the TTRS could also be shoehorned into the R4. The transmission, steering, brakes, and electronics are expected to come from the corporate parts bin, but the floorpan, suspension, body, and interior would be new. Priced between the TT and the Cayman, the Audi R4 could be out in late-2010 as a 2011 model, according to