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Auto blogWed, 10 Apr 2013 11:31:00 EST
These days, we've seen just about every automaker dropping cylinders in an effort to appease tightening fuel economy and emission standards - and Porsche is no exception. Nearly three years after introducing an all-new V6 powerplant under the front hood of its Panamera sedan (launched with a range of V8 engines) comes word that Porsche is working on an all-new turbocharged flat-four boxer to replace the flat-six engines mid-mounted in its Cayman and Boxster models.
Specifics have yet to be learned, but reports say the engine is a derivative of the current 3.8-liter six (shown above) found under the rear decklid of the Carrera S, yet with two fewer cylinders. Fitted with a turbocharger, direct-injection and the automaker's VarioCam Plus, the new all-aluminum 2.5-liter flat-four will likely develop upwards of 350 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. Redline should be about 7,500 rpm. Initial indications say that Porsche will only offer the new engine with its seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic, tuned to take advantage of the low-end torque, but a traditional six-speed manual gearbox has not been ruled out. Despite the loss of two cylinders, enthusiasts will likely embrace the new engine as it promises to be lighter, more fuel efficient and more powerful than the 2.7-liter and 3.4-liter sixes in the Cayman/Boxster today.
Even though Porsche has been using Volkswagen Group engines for years (e.g., Cayenne V6, Cayenne Diesel and upcoming Macan), all indications are that the new flat-four will not be shared. Instead, it will be kept in-house for the automaker's sports cars and possible future fitment in an entry-level 911.
Not only does this weekend mark the running of the 82nd 24 Hours of Le Mans, it will also see the return of one of the race's most venerable brands to the top tiers of endurance racing. Porsche will campaign its first top-flight car since the 1998 911 GT1-98, the 919 Hybrid, at this weekend's race, in the hopes of knocking off its corporate rival, the dominant Audi team.
To understand just what a win for the 919 would mean, though, you need to look back on the intrinsic connection between the Circuit de la Sarthe and Porsche. It's a history that spans decades, dating back to the team's first win in 1970.
XCar has a great video on that history. At 25 minutes, it's a bit on the long side. Then again it is the Friday before Le Mans. Take a look below for the video.
If you're enticed by the idea of a Porsche sedan but find the Panamera to be too big, your hopes may have been raised by the development of the so-called Pajun. But don't get those hopes up too much, because the latest word coming in from the Old World has it that the Panamera Junior has been delayed.
The Pajun was (and theoretically still is, despite tardiness) a project to apply to the Panamera the same winning formula that Porsche used to transmute the Cayenne into the smaller Macan. Its size would be closer to the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class than the larger Panamera, and employ an array of six-cylinder engines.
The smaller five-door was set to be the cornerstone of Porsche Product Strategy 2018, a plan that included several new models to be launched within the next four years. However, reports now indicate that the Volkswagen Group is counting on Porsche to help bolster its profits and is not keen on investing in new products at this time, pushing the Pajun and other projects back until 2019 at the earliest. Although much of the strategy remains undisclosed, it is believed to include (or have included) a sub-Boxster sports car and a supercar to slot in between the 911 and the 918 Spyder. There was also talk of a shooting brake version of the Panamera based on the Sport Turismo concept pictured above. What will become of those projects, however, remains to be seen.