The unveiling of the Audi A4-based Seat Exeo proposes an interesting idea. These days, the quality of the average platform is so good that there’s no need to start engineering a car from a clean sheet every five or even ten years.
The old A4 platform had well-documented inherent problems, but nobody would argue that it wasn’t sophisticated and built to a very high standard. So why not recycle it?
There are rumours that the current A6 chassis – which is also set to be replaced by Audi’s new, less nose-heavy corporate platform – will be recycled towards the end of the decade under the VW Passat badge as a kind of premium utility car.
Volkswagen Group isn't alone. The current Mercedes C-Class chassis and suspension will be ‘cycled’ for two seven-year model runs; the electrical architecture, styling and features will be updated, but the core car will remain.
There’s no doubt that with the rising costs of engineering, creating a new platform will become increasingly onerous. Even BMW has admitted defeat after engineering two Mini platforms in a decade, and will be getting into bed with Alfa and Fiat for the Mk3 Mini.
The latest platform families designed for global manufacture (such as GM’s Epsilon and Ford’s C1+) look as though they’ll be around for a long time to come.