FRANKFURT – There is room for a mid-engined roadster in the market, and such an offering would help freshen the Volkswagen brand, says Volkswagen AG Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder.

Today’s roadster segment is mainly front-wheel drive, with a few rear-drive offerings, and “only one or two with mid-engines,” says Pischetsrieder.

VW sees room for Concept R roadster.

To fill that gap, VW shows the Concept R roadster here in Frankfurt, a vehicle Pischetsrieder describes as “an interesting proposition for VW.” He says it would be a global vehicle. (See related data: Compact Car Wars Begin in Europe)

“If there’s enough positive response, we will make it. We need to add a little more excitement to VW,” he says, expanding its tradition of affordable, sporty cars.

“VW needs a roadster,” agrees Jens Neumann, Volkswagen AG board member in charge of North American sales. “Audi has TT. VW needs its own roadster.”

“I think a roadster should have a mid-engine because it is just so nice to drive,” says Pischetstrieder, adding it would need all the “driveability creations going with that.”

The problem is, VW doesn’t have a rear or mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive platform in its group right now, says Neumann. “So we need to figure that out.”

Neumann says VW would like to show the Concept R at the Detroit auto show in January “to show we are daring in presentation of our brand.”

Martin Smith, head of Adam Opel AG design, notes the VW roadster concept also is daring in its design for sporting a trapezoidal “V” crease in front that has become an Opel design statement.

Link to Robinson piece: Concept R Symbolic of New Volkswagen, to be posted Sept. 19

VW will show a second vehicle in Detroit, but Neumann refuses to provide any more details.

It is not likely to be the larger convertible the brand plans for the VW lineup. Timing for the convertible is an abstract “sooner or later,” Pieschetsrieder says in an interview here.

The 4-seater with a retractable hardtop would be larger than the Beetle Cabrio and fetch a higher price. It would be positioned between the new Golf and the next-generation Passat, he says.