New Porsche 356: Roots Revival Or Brand Dilution?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
new porsche 356 roots revival or brand dilution

Car Magazine (UK) reports that Porsche is developing a mid-engined “budget” sportscar to compete with the Mazda MX-5, and sharing platforms with forthcoming Audi and VW versions. With Audi’s R4 having been canceled for competing too closely with Porsche’s Boxster and Cayman models, the new mid-engined platform is being developed to fight in the $35k-$45k segment. The Audi version will likely replace the TT, finally bringing RWD dynamics to its fashion-forward coupe, along with 220hp and 280hp performance trims. The VW version would pack smaller 1.2 and 1.4 liter engines, while details on a Porsche version are still forthcoming. Since an aluminum spaceframe is off the table thanks to high costs, the roadster/coupe could end up weighing as much as 2,200 pounds. So, should Porsche even be considering a version of this VW/Audi sportscar? Product strategy in the new Porsche/VW will be a tricky proposition for some time as the newly unified firm struggles to maintain brand appeal while leveraging its new partnership. For Porsche, the question goes to volume versus brand dilution, and the possiblity of bringing back the 356 brings this dynamic to the forefront. Would a baby-Boxster bring more fans into the Zuffenhausen fan club, or will it degrade the brand and cannibalize TT sales? As usual, the issue comes down to execution. If Porsche can offer a model with vastly superior dynamics than the VW version, it may be worth it. If the new 356 doesn’t differentiate itself enough from VW and Audi verisons, Porsche’s sibling rivalry could bring yet another challenge to the already-tenuous VW-Porsche anschluss.

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4 of 29 comments
  • Dadude53 Dadude53 on Oct 07, 2008

    What is it going to be? A cheap Porsch or a expensive Volkswagen.The 914 was a failure.A contradiction.VW thought they found a replacement for the Karmann Ghia.Porsche could not pull the project by themselves either.Brand delusion does not work.

  • GiddyHitch GiddyHitch on Oct 07, 2008

    How does it both "compete with the Mazda MX-5" and "fight in the $35k-$45k segment"? Sounds like it would straddle the divide between the S2000 and Elise.

  • DeanMTL DeanMTL on Oct 07, 2008

    I think there's too much overlap with the TT, although the TT has become something of a woman's car as of late. A Porsche spinoff might have more of a male bias.

  • Thomas Orth Thomas Orth on Apr 04, 2010

    The S2000 is dead. Even if it weren't, the Boxster S is 310 hp. Considerably more powerful and more torquey than the tweaker 4 banger in the Honda. The early Boxster did compete with the S2000...but that was 10 years ago now. I'm a lifelong Porsche fan and a 911 owner. I don't get the Cayenne. But a basic, lightweight roadster is what Porsche should have been building all along. I've always been disappointed in how the Boxster turned out so large and bloated, with huge overhangs. I'm really...really happy with the direction the auto industry is headed. Smaller, lighter, more nimble...