Four-cylinder engines in performance vehicles have always been a muddy area. Any of the great marques (like Porsche) will tell you that the tried and trusted recipe has always been a six cylinder. From there you move up until you get to the chart topping W16 found in the Bugatti Veyron. Four cylinders were always left to the whacky (SAAB anyone?) or the wannabes (no offense you BMW people).
So, let’s talk about the new 4-cylinder Porsche 718 Spyder.
A Sign Of The Times
In today’s world, we are controlled by figures. Point and case: How much gas does it use? More importantly, how much carbon does it produce? Oh, by the way, how fast is it?
It is just pure math and physics that bigger engines (in the same size vehicle) aren’t as efficient or economical as little ones. More truly is less when it comes to the internal combustion engine. That is why we are seeing this mainstream trend of downsize and turbocharge.
This is no different when it comes to our beloved Porsche. Wait what? Isn’t the Stuttgart marque the king of the boxer six-cylinder engine? Rest easy, that hasn’t changed. What has, however, is the market for Porsches.
The Chinese Market
Over the last two decades we have seen the rapid growth in consumerism of China. Dubbed an ‘emerging market’ it has now become a world power. It is also a massive market for Porsche. China (like Japan) heavily taxes larger engines, so for the Chinese market Porsche has designed its own 718 Spyder, and yes, it’s a four pot. Of course, it’s turbo charged – there is only so much power that you can get out of a 2.0 liter four. The Chinese model has120 hp and 30 lb-ft less than the one we get over here. 0 to 62 mph takes 4.7 seconds, making it 0.8s slower than its global counterpart. It is also 20 mph slower overall. Another interesting ‘quirk and feature’ is that it is only available in PDK format.
Okay so we get it, the Chinese get their own flavor of Porsche, which is decidedly slower than the firecracker we last reviewed. Why is this so important? Well, this specific model has been spied undergoing testing at the Nurburgring, which may mean that Stuttgart is planning on sending it to our shores.
How can we be sure that it was the Chinese model that was sighted? Well, there are some exterior styling giveaways. These include a tweaked front bumper with smaller air intakes as well as a rear bumper featuring the exhaust tips together, indicative of the 2.0-liter mill.
What Could This Mean?
Times are tough.
With the 718 we all know and love starting at $100k it is simply out of reach for some enthusiasts. So, having a slightly cheaper model (below the six-figure mark) could be the secret ingredient in a sale for Porsche. As we have already said, there are other things in the baby Porsche’s favor including better gas mileage, lower emissions and possibly even cheaper maintenance costs. Is all of this enough to lure prospective new owners into the Porsche circle? Only time will tell – but the prospect is definitely appealing.