The on-again, off-again entry-level Porsche is on-again.
Set to debut sometime in 2016, the Porsche 718 (possibly not its final name) will be a new two-seat roadster that’ll be below the Boxster/Cayman duo in the model lineup. There’s been plenty of talk about a so-called entry-level Porsche for a while, but only in more recent months has the automaker given the project the green light. So far, we know it will be built on the Boxster platform. It’ll have the same wheelbase but the car as a whole will be shorter.
It’ll have unique body panels and only boxer four engines will be offered. Expect those engines to be a new 2.0-liter turbo four with 285 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. A larger 2.5-liter will also be available, producing 360 hp and 345 lb-ft. Transmission options will be a six-speed manual and a seven-speed dual-clutch. The 718 will also have its own unique interior design as well as a manually-operated canvas top. The rear window will be made of plexiglass. Porsche has a target weight of 2,625 lbs. For comparison, the Boxster weighs 2,888 lbs. Yes, all of this is sounding very good, but why now? Why did it take Porsche so long to get this car going?
It didn’t want to "devalue" the brand below the $50,000 price of entry (for a Boxster). So what’s changed? Fiat’s upcoming RWD sports car that’ll be based off the next-gen Mazda MX-5. Previously that car was set to be an Alfa Romeo, but the latest word now is that it’ll wear a Fiat, or possibly an Abarth, badge. Porsche assumed it would be an Alfa, hence the 718’s fairly rapid development. With that off the table, it’ll be interesting to see how Porsche positions the 718 against the Boxster. After all, internal competition is never a good thing. One possibility is Porsche dropping the Boxster entirely, have the 718 be the entry-level car, and keep the Cayman at just a notch below the 911.