PORSCHE PREPS NEWBOXSTER SPYDER AND CAYMAN GT4
Flat-six returns, but will Porsche bail on the 718 branding?
Development mules for the next iteration of Porsche's Boxster Spyder and Cayman GT4 have been spotted testing. The big news is the expected return of a flat-six engine to the mid-engine chassis.
For now, absolutely nothing is official. Final specifications are unclear as is the final branding of both cars. Porsche has announced neither model. That's not expected to happen until this coming Spring at the earliest. However, the head of Porsche's GT department, Frank Walliser, was recently quoted by Autocar magazine stating unambiguously that his crew, “won't do a performance four cylinder.”
But if not four pot, then what? According to the GT department's other leading figure, Andreas Preuninger, naturally aspirated engines are one of Porsche's GT car “main USPS.” Of course, various 911 GT2 models have been turbocharged. But the GT2 line has thus far been the exception. All other Porsche GT3S and the GT4 have been naturally aspirated.
Problem is, with the 718 Boxster and Cayman moving to flat-four engines and the 911 Carrera now turbocharged, Porsche currently doesn't have a mainstream naturally aspirated six-cylinder engine in production. It therefore has two options. Resurrect the recently defunct MA1 engine from the previous GT4 or use the new 911 GT3 engine, all four litres of it. Remarkably, it's the latter option that is the subject of multiple reports and rumours.
In the GT3, it cranks out 500hp and revs to 9000 rpm. If the new GT4 does get the GT3'S engine, it's surely a certainty it will achieve neither figure. Moreover, if it no longer spins to 9000rpm, it equally no longer needs some of the exotic and expensive features that enable such high engine speeds. A defeatured version of the GT3 engine, then, with items such as the uber-expensive crankshaft and fancy valvetrain replaced by cheaper components is plausible.
As for power output, anything north of 400 metric horsepower would put distance between the new model and the original 385hp GT4. On the other hand, previous form suggests Porsche will peg the GT4 just below the prevailing 911 Carrera S for power. That car produces 420hp, so a figure of approx 415hp for the new GT4 is likely.
But what of the Boxster Spyder? Some sources indicate a four-cylinder engine for the Spyder is possible. However, the cost of tooling up and type-approving a flat-six engine for the relatively low volume GT4 will be particularly significant this time around. So it's very probable Porsche will prefer to share that cost across both the GT4 and the Spyder. In short, whatever engine goes into the GT4 will almost certainly find its way into the Spyder.
What's less clear is how the two models will be branded. Porsche's controversial shift to flat-four power was combined with new '718' branding that harked back to the original 718 flat-four racer from the late 1950s and early 1960s. At least from a branding perspective, a flat-six powered 718 would be a confusing proposition.
Boxster Spyder and Cayman GT4: Both are out testing, but will they or won’t they feature a flat-six as per GT tradition?