Porsche is developing a new family of four-cylinder boxer engines for its next generation of sports cars. Yes, the downsizing push is affecting even Porsche – and horizontally opposed four-pot motors as small as 1.6 litres are on the drawing board in Zuffenhausen.
The horizontally opposed engine layout will obviously cut CO2 and boost economy, yet keep a genetic link to the famous flat-six engines which have powered the 911 for decades. Don't forget 2014's Porsche 919 Hybrid Le Mans racecar also uses a four-cylinder engine, albeit a V4.
Subaru is the only other car manufacturer to build flat-four engines, which typically have a charismatic soundtrack as evidenced on the Impreza family over the years.
Porsche flat-four engines: the spec
CAR has seen spec data on the new flat-four project, suggesting it will come in three different displacements and power outputs:
Porsche 1.6 flat four 210bhp
Porsche 2.0 flat four 286bhp
Porsche 2.5 flat four 360bhp
Naturally, with power outputs that high, the four-pots are turbocharged, as well as breathing through direct injection. Hence the power and torque outputs are punchy enough to justify the Porsche badge.
The 2.0 horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine develops 295lb ft, while the 2.5 cranks that up to 347lb ft.
Which Porsches will get four-cylinder horizontally opposed engines?
There is uncertainty over the smallest flat-four, the 1.6. It was originally conceived to be part of the ‘baby Boxster’, codenamed 551 and could have gone on to power the sister VW and Audi sports cars.
But the 2.0 and 2.5 engines are confirmed and much of today’s Porsche line-up will eventually be offered with the larger-displacement units, as tastes and taxation systems increasingly favour lower-emissions engines.
According to CAR’s sources, the Boxster/Cayman and Cayenne will get the flat-fours first. A six-speed manual or seven-speed twin-cluch PDK transmission will be offered.