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2017 Porsche Panamera: Explaining its New MSB Platform

New architecture will also underpin Bentley Continental GT

New architecture will also underpin Bentley Continental GT

The 2017 Panamera is the first car to use Volkswagen Group’s new MSB (modular standard drivetrain) assembly toolkit. Like MQB, which underpins transverse-engine, front-, and all-wheel-drive vehicles like Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3; and MLB, used for longitudinal engine, front-, and all-wheel drive vehicles like Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga, MSB is designed to be highly flexible and cost effective.

All these toolkits share one key characteristic: A single fixed dimension that allows some of the most expensive hardware—engines, transmissions, steering, axles, HVAC systems—to be shared, regardless of the vehicle’s dimensions, appearance, and intended function. In the case of MQB, that fixed dimension is the distance between the firewall and the front axle centerline. In MSB, it’s the distance between the front axle centerline and where the engine block bolts to the transmission. The other key element of the MSB toolkit is its three platform modules: front body, middle floor, and rear body. Each can be produced in different dimensions and using different materials.

In 2011, Porsche was given lead responsibility for developing the MSB toolkit for use in vehicles across the VW Group. (Volkswagen took the lead on MQB, and Audi on MLB.) The next car to come off MSB will be the next-generation Bentley Continental GT. Entry-level versions of the car will be powered by the new Porsche-design 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, and the headline model will be powered by the upgraded version of the Bentley 6.0-liter W12.

There are two versions of MSB, the second designed for heavier vehicles such as plug-in hybrids and long wheelbase sedans. An extended-wheelbase Panamera is coming, probably within the next 12 months. The Bentley Flying Spur will also use this version of MSB. One proposed MSB car has been put on hold, however. Plans for a Panamera coupe, aka the new Porsche 928, are in limbo amid fears the car could cannibalize sales of the new Bentley Continental GT.