Can a performance car use a 4-cylinder engine and still be a performance car?
More specifically, can a Porsche use a 4-cylinder and still be taken seriously as a Porsche?
If I’m not mistaken, the last 4-cylinder Porsche was the 1995 968. It’s been said that no other car in history has inspired more conversations with the Lord, especially at highway speeds in the rain. A bit underpowered yet a challenge to control and with a ride that could graciously be described as “harsh,” the 968 soon gave way to the now-legendary Boxster. That’s the car that established the flat-six as the engine of choice for Porsche enthusiasts.
Coming up on 20 years later, the Porsche 4-cylinder will return.
By introducing a 4-cylinder engine into Porsche’s stable, the company will accomplish two goals:
- Achieve higher fuel-economy numbers.
- Produce entry-level pricing on new Porsches, thereby getting more people into the aspirational brand.
According to Porsche CEO Matthias Müller, via Automotive News,
We will continue with the downsizing strategy and develop a new four-cylinder boxer engine, which will see service in the next-generation Boxster and Cayman…. We will not separate ourselves from efforts to reduce CO2.
I like that quote for a number of reasons. First, it’s good to see a company CEO taking a stand on a controversial subject and unapologetically announcing its plans to downsize engines. He does so in the face of plenty of Porsche purists who will rise up and denounce the plans as further evidence that Stuttgart is selling out to the mass market. On the flip side, it’s exciting that Porsche may soon put out cars that anyone can buy.
We’re certainly not talking about cheap Porsches, as the turbocharged engine family will produce up to 395 horsepower along with dramatic increases in low-end torque. However, the 4-cylinder does give Porsche the option of a naturally aspirated engine that could power an affordable entry-level car.
I don’t know about you, but for me the choice between a new 4-cylinder Boxster and a used 4-cylinder 968 doesn’t require much thought.
Which would you rather have: a new 4-cylinder Porsche Boxster or a used 4-cylinder Porsche 968?