Rising gasoline costs have pushed many manufacturers to develop small engines that often use forced-induction technologies to boost efficiency for greater marketability and to help meet increasingly stringent efficiency codes. And from news that Porsche (POAHF.PK) is putting some serious weight behind the development of a flat-four cylinder engine, it illustrates that the move to smaller engines with fewer cylinders and lower displacements runs the gamut from the lowliest economy car to a brand boasting Porsche’s prestige.
The engines, which are proposed to sit within Porsche’s flagship Boxster and Cayman coupes, are expected to increase not just fuel economy but handling as well, due to being lighter in nature, Automotive News reports. Braking performance should also see improvements.
However, don’t think that Porsche’s decision to drop two cylinders from its signature flat-sixes will hurt the car’s performance. Porsche actually has some experience with four-bangers, as the company offered them in its vehicles from 1938 up through the mid-1970s. They were also a powertrain choice in the 1990s, as well. Porsche estimates that the new flat-four units will be pumping out as much as 395 horsepower — in perspective, the base Boxster possesses 265 horsepower.
In order to reduce complexities and simplify the manufacturing process, Porsche’s engines will rely on a modular design that will allow the smaller fours to share components with the larger sixes. They’ll also share production lines.
“We will continue with the downsizing strategy and develop a new four-cylinder boxer engine, which will see service in the next-generation Boxster and Cayman,” Automotive News reports Porsche CEO Matthias Muller as saying in an interview with Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport magazine. “We will not separate ourselves from efforts to reduce CO2.”
It’s not sure what other models the new engine will find its way into or whether it will be relegated to Porsche’s performance coupes or expanded into their crossover offering, the Macan, for the U.S. market. Currently, the cheapest Porsche sits at around $50,000, but a smaller engine could help lower that. It was also confirmed that the Macan would get the four-cylinder for its Chinese model, to ensure it complies with legal requirements.