Porsche’s new 718 Boxster and Cayman sports cars mark the dawn of a new era for the German automaker. Along with the recently refreshed 911 Carerra, they represent the future for the company, a future that has a lot of purists down in the dumps. This new duo represents the death of the naturally aspirated flat-six engine in mainstream models. In its place is a future of downsized, turbocharged, direct-injection engines, and, having driven the new cars recently, we can report that the purists should have little to worry about. Those new engines are rather clever pieces of engineering with a direct link to Porsche’s latest-and-greatest, all-conquering race car, the 919 Hybrid.
Over the years, Porsche has rightly won quite a reputation for the flat-six engines it builds, and as such the new family of turbocharged engines has a lot to live up to. According to Markus Baumann, who was in charge of engine development, the keys to the new motor were ensuring it kept Porsche’s traditional free-revving nature and characteristic sound. On top of that, engine capacities have been “right-sized” for the 21st century. For the 718, that means losing a pair of cylinders—space constraints in the new chassis (and presumably a desire to differentiate the cars from the more expensive 911) mean there’s a choice of two four-cylinder horizontally opposed “boxer” engines.