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Porsche four to the fore

Fours return: The Porsche 944 proved Porsche could do fours in the 1980s - and might do again.

Porsche is investigating four-pot power, but no sub-Boxster speedster

Porsche logo22 Jun 2009


PORSCHE is considering collaborating on a four-cylinder engine for its smaller models of the future as the Stuttgart firm strives to cut emissions and fuel consumption.

It appears almost certain that Volkswagen will be the supplier of engines, as Porsche does not have the engineering capacity to develop a fresh family of four-cylinder engines.

The next-generation Boxster and Cayman series – known internally as the 981 – are believed to be the likely recipients, rather than the long-rumoured two-seater convertible “Speedster” entry level model that Porsche is supposed to be developing as a sub-981 range.

This is according to Porsche board member and vice president of sales and marketing, Klaus Berning, who emphatically quashed any Speedster rumours.

 center image Left: VW's 1.4-litre TSI Twincharger engine.

“Everybody is asking me about the small Speedster,” he told the Australian media at the Panamera launch in Germany last week.

“Forget it! “There is no business case for a small Speedster.” Asked if there will be another four-cylinder Porsche, Mr Berning’s reply was more open to interpretation: “Never say never again,” he said.

Mr Berning was responding to reports last week in German car magazine Auto Motor & Sport that the Audi TTS’ 200kW/350Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine was under scrutiny for the next Boxster and Cayman.

“Clearly there is trend to downsizing. We have to do everything possible within the brand’s limits to lower CO2 emissions. And to go two cylinders down brings a lot of efficiency, so I will not exclude that. But if you ask me if did we already decide on one, then (the answer is) no.” If or when Porsche does go down the four-pot route, it seems certain that Volkswagen engine technology will be leveraged, much as it already is with the Cayenne V6 petrol and diesel engines.

“The 911 – we know needs Porsche engines,” he said. “Cayenne needs Porsche top-end engines.

“But we have proven with the V6 diesel, for those who would like to have the brand, like the design, like the driving style, but are not so power oriented, they care less about where the engine comes from – as long as it is high quality, fuel efficient and gives a certain level of pleasure to drive it.

“So what is the answer? I could see another four-cylinder in a 911, yes. But in a 911, I could not see a non-Porsche engine. I know that 911 customers would not accept it.

“I do not know whether Boxster and Cayman customers would accept (a non Porsche four-cylinder engine option), but from my experience it is more likely that they would more than 911 customers. The 911 is the core of the brand, and follows different rules to all the rest.” Last October, the powertrain program manager for the 911, Thomas Krickelberg, told GoAuto that Porsche was unlikely to develop a cut-down version of the flat-six-cylinder engine that had been released in the facelifted 911 range at the time.

“It is too costly to do this,” he said.

The most likely option then is a turbocharged version of the flat six, with a lower capacity than the 2.9-to-3.6-litre sizes currently available.

The person in charge of the 911 (“director product line 911”), August Achleitner, added that turbocharging smaller capacity versions of the latest flat six engines was not out of the question, and even confirmed that a capacity as little as about 2.5 litres was a possibility, “like with the old 911/Boxster engine”.

“The challenge future 911s is to meet environmental concerns while improving performance,” Mr Achleitner said.

“We are looking at many things, (including) a turbocharger on a smaller engine. It’s a better way of downsizing without losing the characteristics that the car has today.”

Read more:

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