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Detroit show: Four-pot Porsche Boxster details emerge

Small future: Porsche has confirmed that the next Porsche Boxster is likely to get a four-cylinder option.

Porsche confirms smaller engines but the 911 will retain its flat-six configuration

12 Jan 2011

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in DETROIT

PORSCHE has confirmed that a four-cylinder boxer engine is waiting in the wings for the next-generation 981 Boxster and Cayman models.

Expected to arrive from 2013, and to be built alongside the latest iteration of the company’s trademark flat-six engine family, the 2.0-litre flat-four will include turbo technology to ensure “Porsche levels” of performance as well as fuel and emissions savings of up to 12 per cent.

The company’s PDK dual-clutch automated gearbox will also feature, along with a six-speed manual transmission.

However, purists need not fret as the six-cylinder versions will continue to evolve in the mid-engined rear-drive sportscar range, according to Porsche research and development boss Wolfgang Durheimer, an 11-year Porsche veteran who will begin a new tenure as engineering boss of Bentley Motors (another Volkswagen-owned marque) on February 1.

Mr Durheimer even suggested that future iterations of the iconic 911 may also receive four-cylinder power, although a Porsche spokesman later added that there are no serious plans on the drawing board for now.

“(The four-cylinder engine) could even be applied to the 911,” Mr Durheimer told Australian media at the Detroit auto show this week.

“We’ll stay with the 911 flat-six … but there are opportunities for the future.”

25 center imageLeft: Porsche Boxster Spyder. Below: Porsche Cayman.

For now, the other four-pot Boxer engine recipients are likely to include the mid-size Cajun SUV due in about 2014 and the entry-level sports car to sit below the Boxster that is also set to arrive in the middle of this decade.

Forced induction will be a vital part of the new engine series, which will be similar in layout and design to Subaru’s famous powerplants.

“If you are talking about performance, you need a turbo,” said Mr Durheimer.

The application of four-cylinder engine technology, as well as hybrid and diesel units, comes as Porsche recognises the social stigma of performance without responsibility.

“(It is very important) to meet the social standards of the target group because these people are very successful businessmen, they are public leaders, and they don’t want to have bad situations (regarding) consumption levels.

“They want Porsche performance (and responsibility, too), and we want to be able to take care of this ... as long as performance levels do not suffer.”

On the subject of electric vehicles, Mr Durheimer revealed that a trio of battery-powered Boxster prototypes have been running on Germany’s roads since December, but the concept is not yet ready for production due to some performance shortfalls.

“The Boxster EV has about a 100km range … and its performance is comparable to a gasoline engine … but the track performance is not yet good enough,” he said.

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