While this news isn't particularly a surprise, we've known a new Boxster and Cayman update were in the works for a while, there are some interesting points to take away from Porsche's newest announcement. There's surprisingly little to actually go on in the press release, especially considering that Porsche waited until they had press photography of the newest update to the 911 before they told anyone about it. This new announcement is joined only with a pair of silhouette outlines of the mid-engine sports cars, which appear to be not too far removed from the existing Boxster and Cayman.
What's In A Name?
Porsche has chosen to replace the cars previously known simply as Cayman and Boxster with the updated name 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster. The new name conjures memories back to the early days of Porsche's mid-engine racing development. The 718 chassis (including RS60, RS61, RSK, and W-RS) was a sports car intended to replace the passé 550 Spyder in sports car endurance racing and hillclimb. The 718 won its class at the 1958 Le Mans 24, nabbed first overall in 59 and 60 at the Targa Florio, and snatched Porsche's first 12 hours of Sebring win in 1960. So, in reality, the 718 name has a lot of history with the Porsche brand, and bringing up Porsche's past is never a bad thing. It's what music nerds might refer to as a "deep cut" from their history, but an important one all the same. It was also one of the most significant 4-cylinder Porsche racing cars ever produced.
How About That Engine?
As evidenced by Porsche's recent downsizing of the 911 Carrera's engine as well as the advent of more mainstream turbocharging, it is obvious that Porsche is focused on finding a way to move forward with improving performance as well as improving engine emissions. In the new versions of each car, the engines will be downsized to four-cylinder turbocharged units.
Parallels To Porsche's Le Mans-Winning 919 Hybrid?
Obviously trying play up the connection between their new four-cylinder sports car and their Le Mans-winning four-cylinder prototype, the 919 Hybrid is referenced a handful of times in the official press release. The 919 features a bespoke 2.0 liter four-cylinder laid out in a V-configuration, combined with a big turbocharger to produce many time more horsepower than a 718 Boxster or 718 Cayman will ever see in production. In addition to that V4 engine, the 919 also features electric motors to provide additional propulsion. With every day that goes by, I'm more and more convinced that Porsche will begin to move hybrid drivetrains into their more mainstream sports cars, so it's possible that we could see a higher performance hybrid version of the newly dubbed 718, perhaps reviving the RSK moniker as well.
So What Don't We Know?
1. What exterior visual changes will be made.
While we've seen a few mules testing, and there have been some leaked images, we have yet to see any official images of the cars come from Porsche. Surely some tweaks will be made, especially to the rear of the car, to accommodate turbocharging.
2. What size the engines will be.
While there was a lot of talk in the official press release about the 919 Hybrid, I tend to find it unlikely that this upcoming turbocharged four will share even one part with the Le Mans-winning racing car. And while the phrase "2.0 liter four-cylinder" has been mentioned a couple of times in the release, I wouldn't think the 718 will displace so few liters. Only time will tell.
3. When the 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman will be debuting.
No mention has been made of which auto show these cars might take their curtain call at. In fact, there has been no mention of when production will begin, or when we can expect them to hit showrooms. If I were a betting man, this is an upcoming debut at the Detroit Auto Show, and we will probably see these cars being shipped around the 3rd quarter of 2016. We'll just have to wait and see if I'm right.