"A car with almost no electrics, everything mechanical, puristic."
There aren't many of us that wouldn't be immediately captivated by the idea of an entry-level Porsche. In a recent interview, Porsche Chief Designer Michael Mauer hinted at this possibility when discussing the origins of the Porsche 914 (a car that we once dreamed that the manufacturer would revive), the targa-top mid-engined sports car that was briefly the manufacturer's top-selling model in the early 70s. The interview was shared on the marque's media site and Mauer's openness to the idea of a modern 914 could be the first step to a model like this seeing the light of day.
Almost 120,000 914s were produced until production ceased in 1976. The mid-engined two-seater with rear-wheel drive was co-developed with Volkswagen, but even decades later, its design - vastly different from the iconic silhouette of the Porsche 911 - continues to be a contentious issue. Mauer himself says that he finds the 914's shape "whimsical", pointing out the lack of a swage line and the minimalist detailing.
It's the 914's simplicity that Mauer appreciates and which could lead to the development of a modern successor. "I find it fascinating how F.A. and his team managed to bring in this modern, reduced style, in a similar way to the transition from the 356 to the 911," said Mauer. "The more I work with the 914 - that's exactly what I'm fighting for now. This reduced, puristic approach. Integrating things, not one line too many."
When pressed to elaborate on whether the 914's ethos has a place in the brand's future, Mauer said: "We have this discussion all the time. It's all about the entry-level Porsche. I think it's very interesting, but opinions differ on the characteristics of a vehicle like that." He went on to describe a car that had "almost no electrics", an idea that he found exciting and which would appeal to owners of vehicles like the Audi TT RS or the VW Golf R32.
For those hoping for a $30,000 Porsche, it might be wise to rein in your excitement, though. Mauer emphasized that such a car would be "an entry-level Porsche not in terms of price, but the sense of reduction." Still, this indicates a car that could potentially undercut the 718 Cayman/Boxster twins which start at just under $60,000. "A much cheaper entry-level Porsche would be the right thing to do - but that's not my approach," said Mauer. "Puristic, reduced, back to our roots. I think the time has come. That would be typically Porsche again."
We can only hope that Porsche's enthusiasm for such a project grows. A cut-price sports car with Porsche's chassis expertise would undoubtedly capture the imagination of enthusiasts simply wanting a fun, engaging, but frill-free driver's car. Watch this space.