Porsche, known for its wonderful naturally aspirated six-cylinder engines, is launching its all-new 718 Boxster and Cayman with – drumroll – turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engines.
Porsche has a habit of knowing what its doing. People guffawed at the Cayenne when that was shown for the first time – how dare Porsche, a sports car manufacturer I’ll have you know, produce an SUV. And the same for a Panamera – how dare Porsche, a sports car manufacturer I’ll have you know, produce a saloon. And in the middle of all that, diesel engines – diesel engines! – from Porsche?! That’s a sports car manufacturer, I’ll have you know.
There’s nothing wrong with four-cylinder cars, just look at a Morgan 4/4, or a Caterham, or a Westfield, or an Alfa 4C. But dropping two lovely, sonorous cylinders from the Boxster and Cayman? Porsche, please don’t do this to us. It’s like losing the string section in an orchestra.
Consider Formula 1. They downsized from V10 engines, to V8s, and now Hamilton and co are trumping around in 1.6-litre V6s. They’re getting better, but it’s still fairly unremarkable.
Now, the Porsche Boxster and Cayman are being compared to the Subaru Impreza, due to their respective boxer engines (so-called because its horizontal pistons look like a couple of boxers having a bout) – a brilliant car, but not a Porsche. It seems like a step back to a gruffer age.
There is no doubt the 718 Boxster and Cayman will sell. With no compromise in performance, and gains in fuel efficiency, sound is the only drawback. But I feel like it’s not a solution we’d expect from Porsche. We expect exhilarating noises, or high-tech hybrids. Maybe it’s just me being old-fashioned, but I love the sound of six cylinders.
Of course, the good news is, we’ll have old-school Porsches in our showroom for many years to come.