Archive for the ‘Porsche 718’ Category

The Porsche 718 Boxster S and Cayman S—racing technology meets the road

October 27th, 2016


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.

That engine

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.

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Nothing but a number? Meet the new Porsche 718 Boxster

March 28th, 2016

Porsches have long been a living dichotomy. No sports car manufacturer wears its engineering sobriety so blatantly on its sleeve. Yet, the human result is a clear polar opposite. Porsche fans are nearly as rabid as those that feverishly wave the Ferrari flag. After all, this is the company that made the rear-engine 911 not only live, but thrive through multiple generations despite air cooling and a rearward weight bias with the flawed nature of highly polar momentousness. Overcome fundamental deficiencies, find a way to turn them into advantages, then ring the cash register. For Porsche, this has worked for decades. The latest in that thinking are the two 718 Boxsters going on sale this June, in both a $58,000 standard and $64,800 S configuration.

One central argument of the 718 is that less is more. The Boxster convertible (as well as the Cayman coupes) move away from six-cylinder engines to a paltry four cylinders. And though nobody can drive a specifications table and should therefore not judge equipment based solely on stats, many do. So, Porsche purists are concerned. At the most aural level, six cylinders firing every 720 degrees of crank rotation sound better than four. Or so many people think. But no one should judge a book by its cover.

There is some historical precedent for the engine choice, however. Porsche’s first cars had four cylinders. Porsche’s first racing engine—the Ernst Fuhrmann-designed four-cam boxer—had four cylinders. The latter also had a complex camshaft drive system with multiple shafts and required frequent rebuilds, but that was then and this is now.

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