By on January 18, 2011

Porsche’s planned “Baby Boxster” has been a divisive issue for fans of the Zuffenhausen brand: on the one hand it holds the promise of a pure, low-cost entry to the Porsche driving experience; on the other, it’s a neo-914, a Volkswagen first. And with VW and Audi versions planned as well, what on earth would be the point of Porsche offering a third version of a mid-mounted, inline-four-powered roadster? Luckily that’s not a problem Porsche will have to worry about, as the firm’s R&D boss has confirmed to Autocar that

We have a four-cylinder boxer engine under development.

Apparently the design being tested now is a 2.5 liter unit making as much as 360 HP with turbocharging… which means that this engine’s potential goes beyond merely the Bluesport-based Baby Boxster (please Porsche, give us something to call this car… and make it better than “Cajun”). Wolfgang Durheimer says that this engine “can” be used in either the Boxster or Cayman… but that’s not all. If gas prices (or government regulations) require it, the engine could power the return of the 912. According to Durheimer, the first purely Porsche-developed flat-four

could be applied if necessary to the 911. Our decision is, on the 911 side, we’ll stay with the flat [six]. But there are opportunities for the future.

And Durheimer’s probably not the only one who sees opportunities with this engine. From 914 restomods to “Powered by Porsche” WRXs, this engine could (if nothing else) become a favorite of well-heeled, eccentric tuner-nuts. And with Porsche’s recent emphasis on hybrids and corporate synergy getting a lot of the play, it’s heartening not only to see Porsche developing a new downsized engine, but also doing what it takes to make its entry level roadster a “real” Porsche.

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19 Comments on “Porsche’s New Engine: Flat-Four Under Develoment...”

  • avatar

    “Just like an S2000.  But with the VW service experience.”  Don’t get me wrong, I would be thrilled if there were more sporty roadsters like this, instead of ridiculously expensive penis compensators pumping out 500 horsepower.  Just that this was an incredibly boring video of a very ordinary looking car.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    Probably wouldn’t be sold in America anyway.

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    Big mistake.  Stick with a boxer six, even if the displacement goes down to only 2 litres (as it was on the original 911).  Plus twin intercooled turbo, maybe…..

    Lighten the car for performance, Porsche.  Go back to your roots! 

  • avatar

    Being that Porsche already has a 2.7 liter flat-six I’m not so convinced what they benefit would be to making a 2.5 liter flat-four.  From a marketing perspective a flat-six is a better than a four cylinder engine, especially for a sports car.
    I’ve always felt that Posche should have developed a flat-8 engine rather than the V8s that are in the Panamera and Cayenne.  Porsche does have racing heritage with the flat-8s with F1/908 engines they fielded.

  • avatar

    Two bits of sad (confirmations of) downsize news in one day. This morning I learned that BMW is now officially starting to phase out their naturally aspirated I6s (first with the X1 in Europe), and now Porsche is entertaining the idea of a 4 in a 911…

    Sure, performance will be about the same, maybe some small part of the MPGs won on paper will translate to reality, but what about the noise and the ‘laufkultur’. Shame really.

    • 0 avatar

      A 4 in a 911 would be a 912, that just brings back a retro Porsche, not a terrible thing. As for BMW, bringing back a 4 would be paying tribute to the 2002 and e30 M3. If a 4 would slow or reverse BMW’s bloat that would be a good thing.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      BMW going back to I4s is just fine. E30 and E36 3-series were just fine with them.

    • 0 avatar

      The 4s will be alright, but the NA I6s were special. Also, they were pretty light already so I doubt a turbo’d 4 will be all that much lighter. In Europe, the E36, E46 and the E90 variants have all been sold with 4s. Due to the bloat though, you needed the I6s to feel some POWAH!

      As great as the original E30 M3 is, it had about 200HP. Put that engine in a modern 3 series and you have a rather unspectecular vehicle.

  • avatar

    Is a flat 4 bad for Porsche? Check the prices on nice 356s. In the proposed entry level car, get rid of feature bloat. Find a way to make it simpler and easier to manufacture. For example, even Boxsters and Caymans all have their own configured wiring harnesses depending on what options are selected. Does Mazda do this for the Miata?  Porsche needs to find someone who doesn’t suffer from OCD to go through their processes and simplify.

  • avatar

    I thought Porsche made this decision long ago when they decided to build the Cayenne rather than a smaller more affordable car.  I wonder how much VW is pressuring them to try to have their cake and eat it, too.  Or at least do the development work on a flat motor that can be used in VW/Audi branded roadsters.
    Toss one into a Subaru?  I think the electronics these days wouldn’t make it as easy as it used to be when you could power any Subaru with an EJ205 from a WRX some kid wrote off.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      I wouldn’t put it past the Megasquirt community to figure out a decent kit to use the forthcoming four in older vehicle engine swaps. Once this engine makes its debut, it won’t be long before we’ll see it slapped into a Type I or II.

      Hmm, Baby Boxster. . . the Babster? The Baxter? In a Type II I’ll call it the Busker.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Um, Subaru and Porsche collaborate on engine development – as the only major OEMs to headline boxer engines in their cars, they have to.

  • avatar

    Hope they’ll make it meaningfully smaller, or at least narrower, than the Boxster/Cayman. A Miata size and weight P car with 250+ horses and P driveability would be awesome.

  • avatar

    I think this is great news for Porschephiles.  Porsche has a price problem.  Even the most basic Boxster starts somewhere around $50K.  If they can get the price of the “New 914” down to $30K, they just might start winning younger converts to the marque.  The current age demographic is moving along the same curve as the Baby Boomers.  My local PCA chapter meetings are starting to look like dance night at the assisted living center.

    My hope is that they make the new 4 air/oil cooled like back in the day.

    • 0 avatar

      My local PCA chapter meetings are starting to look like dance night at the assisted living center.

      Yeah, Porkers aren’t aspirational cars for the non-geriatric set. The first Porsches I rode in many years ago were owned by my then 30 y.o. contemporaries. One had a 914 and the other a down to bare metal restoration 356. Both were a lot simpler to wrench and if you were pinched financially, you could use VW parts and take it easy until you could afford to make it right.
      One problem is that the target demographic today may not want to forgo creature comforts, and keep performance, to meet a price point. I think the creature comforts of a Beck Spyder would work for me, but I’m too old to matter to Porsche’s calculations.

  • avatar

    I’ve always felt that Posche should have developed a flat-8 engine rather than the V8s that are in the Panamera and Cayenne.  Porsche does have racing heritage with the flat-8s with F1/908 engines they fielded.

    Flat 8 needs much more engine bay room,  can be hard on a Front engine or Mid/rear eng configuration.
    Probably a better firing config , they can have single plane crank on a pancake?

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I always thought it would be neat if Subaru made a mid or rear engine sports or touring car AWD of course. The Porsche folks might complain but it would be a neat halo car like the old SVX or XT

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