While the industry is shifting as a whole towards smaller, more efficient engines, the flat-six engine has been a signature characteristic of Porsche sports cars, so replacing the 2.7 and 3.4 sixes in the Boxster and Cayman is big news.
The base 911 Carrera’s 3.4 liter flat six could be replaced with the new turbo four-cylinder in the near future. That, combined with talk of a hybrid 911, spells a totally new direction for the German brand. Thankfully, the 911 GT3 and RS are safe for the time being with larger displacement naturally-aspirated motors.
It was rumored that the new four-cylinder would be the standard powertrain in an all-new sub-Boxster model, but Porsche firmly denied those claims a few months ago. That leaves the Boxster and Cayman as likely candidates for the more efficient powertrain. Only the Boxster Spyder and Cayman GT4 will retain six-cylinder motors as mid-engined Porsches for the foreseeable future.
While the turbocharged boxer four won’t impart the same tone and characteristics as flat-six engines, output shouldn’t be an issue. The new engine is reportedly capable of 395 horsepower, quite a bit more power than standard Boxster and Cayman models develop. Don’t expect base versions of the above to make that kind of power, but if “S-badged” Caymans get closer to the 400 hp mark, expect the 911 to move into a higher performance category.
Newly developed motors may also open a gap for a new entry-level 911. The 912 may return to be the first to use the turbo four cylinder while upscale Carrera models transition to the rumored 2.9 liter turbocharged flat-six.
Expect the first mid-engined turbo four-cylinder Porsches to be produced by mid-2016.