Graphic designer Anthony Collard just answered the question that has been asked for nearly 20 years; ‘What would a front engine Porsche revival look like?’ Since the end of 1995, Porsche has stuck strictly to rear and mid-engine chassis for their sports car lineup. With the end of production of the 968 and 928 GTS in 1995, a piece of Porsche history went into a dormancy, as they no longer had any front-engine sports coupes in their stable.
The introduction of the 924 in 1976 was a departure for Porsche, both in the fact that it was watercooled, rather than aircooled, and that the engine was up front, ahead of the driver compartment, rather than behind it. The 924/944/968 family of cars was one of Porsche’s most successful sales forces for almost two decades. Legend has it that Porsche engineering employees tended to gravitate toward the 944 when choosing their company car, as it offered more precise handling and better weight distribution than that of the 911.
Equally important in the history of Porsche is the 928. The 928 was a car like no other, a GT cruiser that had a lot of V8 grunt. It’s been called the ethological predecessor to the Panamera, and all it takes is a quick drive in one to figure out why. With a quiet blast down the Autobahn, or a flat footed pull out of a hairpin corner, the 928 never failed to impress.
I’m not sure why, but Mr. Collard has chosen to name his concept design the “921”. It is obvious that the 921 incorporates current Porsche design culture, with the rear bumper mimicking that of the current 991 Carrera. The rear hatch visually invokes that of the Cayman, but with a more prolonged trailing edge, leading into a kammback-style design more like that of the 944. The side window and small rear quarter window clearly mimic that of the 928, and works surprisingly well with the new smoother design language. At the front, the headlamps and muscular fender bulge work clearly emulate that of the 918 Spyder, and the front bumper features gorgeous LED fog lamps.
I’ve spent a long time thinking about how this particular car could work, and how it could be positioned. What engines should it have, and what place would it take in the Porsche marketplace? Similar to the 944, I envision this car taking the place as Porsche’s entry level vehicle. Let’s assume for now that the base car can slot in around the $40,000 mark, weigh just under 3000 pounds, and have about 190-200 horsepower.
With a 200-ish horsepower version of Volkswagen’s 1.8 liter turbocharged engine currently being designed to work with the PDK transmission in the base level Macan, this engine and transmission would also work exceedingly well as the entry level 921 motivation. Porsche already has a number of higher power engines that could easily be squeezed between the shock towers of the 921 for higher output versions. The naturally aspirated 3.6 liter V6 currently in the base Panamera could work wonders for this car at 300 horsepower. While increasingly unlikely, as it could cannibalize Carrera sales, The Panamera S/Macan S 3.0 liter V6 Turbo could be installed to create the highest output version, a “921 Turbo”, somewhere around 375 horsepower.
As the market trends toward automated manuals like Porsche’s excellent PDK transaxle, I’m not sure that a new car like this would even be offered with a true manual transmission. On a bargain car like this, it might not even be profitable to design a new longitudinal manual transmission unique to this application. If the market did deem it necessary, however, surely Porsche could crib a 6-speed manual from ZF that would work well in the application.
While I’m not particularly partial to the blatant statement made by the rouge wheels shown here, the Porsche side script does hint at what a revival of the “Clubsport” name could look like. A stripped down interior with GT3 RS style appointments and copious use of alcantara could give the 921 a little of the sporting credit that the CS nomenclature deserves. Perhaps dropping as much as 200 pounds from the weight of the base car, the CS could be powered by the base engine, with an increase in boost to somewhere around 220 horsepower.
While all of this is simply conjecture based on a graphic designer’s daydream, we can only hope that Porsche is listening. As a former 944 owner, I have to say that I would be waiting outside of my local Porsche dealer waiting to place an order if they announced this car tomorrow. The design is beautiful, the concept not unprecedented, and if Porsche were to look at their own historical sales data, they would easily determine that there is a market for an entry level car with the engine up front.
Other Porsche Blog Posts You Should Read
How a Porsche 928 Saved a Life and Influenced a Career
Will Porsche Ever Produce a Pickup Truck?
The Porsche 550 Re-imagined by Vintech as the P550