In order to combat rising production costs, platform-sharing has become an extremely common practice for vehicle manufacturers. Volkswagen Group has taken this practice to a whole new level, putting over a dozen big sedan and crossover models on its MLB Evo chassis. The Evo itself is a stretched version of the standard MLB platform, which underpins nearly every mid-size front-engine vehicle from VW, Audi, and Porsche.
MLB stands “Modularer Längsbaukasten.” That’s Deutsch for Modular Longitudinal Matrix, and the name really lays out the thesis of this engineering project. Platform-sharing in the olden days basically amounted to switching out the bumpers and badges on a Chevy and calling it a Pontiac, and maybe the Pontiac version would have a unique engine package. Nowadays, modular chassis like the MLB make the process much more involved.
All MLB Evo vehicles, such as the VW Touareg, Audi Q7, Bentley Bentayga, Porsche Cayenne, and Lamborghini Urus. Share a few important specifications. Namely, the engine mounts, front wheel placement, firewall, and windshield are identical across all models. Keeping these structural components in common allows engineers to more easily optimize weight distribution and certify a new vehicle for crash safety. This practice saves manufacturers development time and money, while ensuring a uniform standard of quality across automotive lineups.
The rest of the chassis, however, can be pinched, prodded, stretched, and adapted to a wide variety of uses. That’s where the “modular” part of the name comes in. Each engineering team tunes the platform to their particular needs, making both mechanical and aesthetic alterations. Things like shrinking the wheelbase, swapping in a quicker steering rack, or adding third-row seating. Details like these are the reason a Q7 drives differently from a Bentayga, which drives differently from an Urus, while all share the same basic platform. The MLB Evo chassis can easily be outfitted with all-wheel-drive, hybrid, or fully-electric drivetrains.
Stay tuned for a feature on our personal favorite of the platform: The Bentley Bentayga. This new addition to The Starting Line mates a powerful twin-turbocharged engine with the comfort and practicality of a luxury crossover.