Porsche re­port­edly think­ing the un­think­able as auto in­dus­try trends con­spire again­st­mid-en­gined sports car line

911 Porsche World - - News And Views -

The cur­rent 718 Boxster and Cay­man could be the last of their kind. Porsche may not re­place its mid-en­gine sports car line with new mod­els. So says se­nior in­dus­try ob­server Ge­org Kacher in the lat­est edi­tion of Au­to­mo­bile mag­a­zine.

With sales of com­pact sports cars re­port­edly in sharp de­cline world­wide, Porsche has been forced to think the un­think­able and con­sider can­celling the mi­dengine pair­ing at the end of its cur­rent life cy­cle. Other op­tions in­clude re­leas­ing an up­date of the cur­rent car, a new pure-elec­tric sports car de­rived from Mis­sion E tech­nol­ogy or pair­ing with sis­ter brand Audi to spread the cost of de­vel­op­ing an all-new model.

From the be­gin­ning, of course, the Boxster has been closely re­lated to the 911, shar­ing much of its plat­form, body, in­te­rior and en­gine ar­chi­tec­ture with its more il­lus­tri­ous sib­ling. As sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tions have emerged, Porsche has in­vested ever more ef­fort in dis­tanc­ing the two model lines with be­spoke body and cabin parts. With the lat­est 718 gen­er­a­tion, the gap grew even larger as the mid-en­gine pair­ing adopted its own four-cylin­der en­gine in place of the M96, M97 and MA1 flat-six mo­tors that were pre­vi­ously shared across all of Porsche’s main­stream sports cars.

How­ever, even the 718 sits on the same plat­form and shares much of its core ar­chi­tec­ture with the cur­rent sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion Type-991 911. That makes the 718 a rel­a­tively ex­pen­sive car for Porsche to pro­duce given that it sells at a much lower price point than the 911. Mean­while, Porsche is also ex­pected to be forced, even­tu­ally, to move the 911 onto a shared VW Group ar­chi­tec­ture, the aim be­ing economies-of­s­cale ben­e­fits along­side pre­mium large sports cars from other group brands in­clud­ing Audi.

At that point, the phys­i­cal con­nec­tion be­tween the Cayster and the 911 would be sev­ered and the mid-en­gine model would be­come dra­mat­i­cally less vi­able as a stand­alone prod­uct line. Fac­tor in dwin­dling de­mand for com­pact sports cars and it’s

not hard to see why Porsche would be giv­ing se­ri­ous thought to can­celling the Boxster and Cay­man al­to­gether.

Doubts over the Cayster’s fu­ture come as the chal­lenges to Porsche’s broader sports car busi­ness con­tinue to mount. Meet­ing up­com­ing re­quire­ments for particulat­e fil­ters and re­duc­ing NOX emis­sions to com­ply with new real-world emis­sions tests pose a se­ri­ous prob­lem if Porsche is to con­tinue to im­prove per­for­mance. New noise reg­u­la­tions will like­wise only mean it will be harder for Porsche to make its sports cars ever more dy­namic and emo­tional while main­tain­ing com­pli­ance with reg­u­la­tions.

At the same time, the car in­dus­try gen­er­ally is gear­ing up for a ma­jor shift to­wards elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and self-driv­ing tech­nol­ogy. Add in the afore­men­tioned new emis­sions regime that has emerged in re­sponse to the so-called Diesel­gate scan­dal that af­flicted the VW Group, along with the me­te­oric rise in pop­u­lar­ity of SUVS and crossovers, and what seems like a dras­tic mea­sure – can­celling the Boxster and Cay­man – may be a bit of a no brainer, at least in hard nosed com­mer­cial terms.

Iconic rac­ing driver and For­mula 1 veteran Dan Gur­ney has passed away. Gur­ney died on Jan­uary 14, 2018 at the age of 86. As it hap­pens, Porsche owes its only suc­cess as a ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer in the For­mula 1 World Cham­pi­onship to Gur­ney, who won the 1962 French Grand Prix in Rouen in an eight-cylin­der Porsche 804.

Driv­ing ap­pear­ances for Porsche in 1961 and 1962 would leave last­ing mem­o­ries. As Gur­ney once re­flected, “it was with Porsche that I re­ally learned how to drive, be­cause they gave me cars that didn’t con­stantly break down and I could lay down the kilo­me­tres faster than ever be­fore.”

Gur­ney was con­sid­ered to be an all-round tal­ent in the field of mo­tor­sport. The Amer­i­can en­joyed sig­nif­i­cant suc­cess through­out his ca­reer and was the first driver to win races in For­mula 1, NASCAR and the Indycar Se­ries, as well as sports car races, in­clud­ing with his own team.

Gur­ney is also known for the epony­mous aero ap­pendage or ‘Gur­ney flap’, a small tab on the trail­ing edge of an aero­foil or wing that both im­proves down­force and re­duces drag. It was Gur­ney that in­no­vated the flap and first fit­ted it to a race car in 1971. By then Gur­ney had grad­u­ated to team owner and car de­signer. Gur­ney is also said to be the first race driver to spray cham­pagne on the podium, in­ad­ver­tently start­ing a tra­di­tion that is now im­i­tated all around the world.

Porsche also helped Gur­ney find life­long hap­pi­ness in his pri­vate life in the 1960s when he mar­ried his wife Evi, the former Ger­man mo­tor sports jour­nal­ist and sec­re­tary to the Porsche Rac­ing Man­ager Huschke von Hanstein.

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