TTAC’s writers don’t always agree with each other, but we can’t help but rub off on each other a little bit. After all, as our Jack Baruth puts it, “great artists steal.” Lately we’ve been treated to a tour of Jack’s love-hate relationship with the Porsche brand in his take on Paul Niedermeyer’s “Deadly Sins” series. And if the latest news on Porsche’s product plans [via Auto Motor und Sport] are anything to go on, we can probably expect more Baruthian takedowns of Zuffenhausen’s flights of fancy going forward.
Porsche will end production of its 997-generation of 911 sportscars at the end of this year, and will tool up for a whole new generation (known internally as 991) which will go on sale in Europe in November of next year. As usual, expect the next generation to continue the steady evolution of the 911’s aesthetic and performance, which means there should be few surprises when it finally hits. If anything, the 991 faces the challenge of evolving enough. Chances of Deadly Sin status: 8:1.
In the spring of 2012, a new generation of Porsche’s Boxster roadster should also debut. Again, few details are available, which suggests that the third generation of Porsche’s mid-engine roadster will be another evolutionary change. A Cayman hardtop version is scheduled for Spring of 2013. Chances of Deadly Sin status: 10:1.
Also debuting by 2013 will be Porsche’s 918 Spyder hybrid supercar, which will replace the departed Carrera GT as Porsche’s halo technology showcase. The limited-production 918 Spyder will cost a half-million Euros, and should be a breakthrough in terms of offering world-class performance alongside fuel economy that should be unrivaled by its supercar competition. Nothing on the horizon promises the kind of technological and performance breakthroughs that the 918 does, so it’s tough to see the hybrid Porsche being anything but a runaway success. Chances of Deadly Sin status: 100:1.
A long-rumored return of a two-door GT in the vein of the 928 is projected for a 2014 release, underpinned by the Panamera’s front-engine chassis. A convertible version had been floated as well, but apparently the concept has been taken off the table due to problems maintaining the chassis’ stiffness after a soft-top conversion. With four-door coupes taking over for their traditional two-door predecessors in Europe, one has to wonder why Porsche can’t be content with the Panamera alone… especially since it’s become the top-selling Porsche in the all-important US market. Will there be a market for a two-door Panamera? Probably. For at least a little while. Is it in any way a crucial product for the brand? Not so much. By the time it debuts, the 918 will serve as the brand’s halo, and a doubtless pricey 991 will already be on the market as an iconic symbol of the brand’s values. The 928 was, in many respects, an original Deadly Sin for Porsche… the new Panamera-based GT will likely follow in its footsteps. Chances of Deadly Sin status: 4:1.
By the end of 2014, Porsche will also be coming out with another sure-fire Deadly Sin: the long-rumored “Roxster” or “Baby Cayenne” SUV. Needless to say, the Cayenne is a well-established Deadly Sin, especially the cheaper V6 version. If Porsche is going to play in the SUV segment, a big, expensive, driver-oriented ute is clearly the way to go. A re-worked Audi Q5 though? Porsche’s product planners foresee the “Roxster” selling 30k units each year globally, especially in China where luxury compact CUVs are starting to take off. Sure, the baby Cayenne has an opportunity to become an especially driver-oriented CUV, but more likely it will be another brand-cheapening exercise in volume-boosting. Chances of Deadly Sin status: 2:1.
Finally, a mid-engined, entry-level roadster is planned for 2015, based on the underpinnings of the Volkswagen BlueSport Concept. Billed as a “modern-day 356 Speedster,” the baby Porsche is more likely to resemble a modern-day version of another Porsche Deadly Sin, the 914. And with VW and Audi versions of the same mid-engine concept planned, the PO374 as it’s known will either be really cheap (for a Porsche) or it will be insanely expensive in comparison to its Audi and VW cousins. Three-way differentiation of an entry-level sportscar sounds like a challenge worthy of the most ego-driven auto execs in the industry… not to mention a disaster for the Porsche brand and confusion for consumers. On the other hand, a lighter, cheaper Porsche could introduce a whole new generation of enthusiasts to the Zuffenhausen brand. The major challenge: making it so much better than the Audi and VW versions that consumers have good incentive to step up from the pedestrian versions (or their Miatas). Chances of Deadly Sin status: 6:1.