The excitement around and plaudits for the latest 718 Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder could encourage Porsche to reintroduce the flat-six to its wider 718 range - but probably only if it includes hybrid hardware to keep CO2 down. Speaking to PH at the Taycan's reveal near Berlin, CEO Oliver Blume said engineers already have "many ideas" for returning six-cylinder power to series production 718 models, but he hinted that electrification could be the key to enabling it.
"The four-cylinder 718 has actually become a best-seller for Porsche in China, but we also know it's true other markets prefer the six-cylinder motor," said Blume. "We have felt the response from these markets and have begun looking at what options we have for the future."
While refraining from elaborating on details, Blume did at least agree with PH's suggestion that a mild hybrid setup looked a smart option to satisfy both emissions targets and enthusiast customer demand. Although rather than spelling the end of the boxer four 718, Blume hinted that different markets could be offered powertrains tailored to their sales. Still, it means there's genuine hope of a return to flat-six 718s beneath the GT4 and Spyder, even if they're only offered to Europe and the US.
It wouldn't be the first time Porsche made an engineering U-turn after listening to response from its customers. Remember the uproar, just a generation and a half of 911 ago, when a manual GT3 looked like a thing of the past? The return of three pedals and a stick to the GT3's interior was driven by enthusiast demand, so there's reason to believe the same sort of shift will come following the broadly lukewarm response to four-cylinder 718s. That many critics have preferred the Alpine A110 as a four-cylinder sports car must also have had an impact; a flat six once more would give the Porsche a USP over the Alpine.
Indeed, Blume's comments were echoed by Porsche Finance Director Lutz Meschke, who in a completely separate conversation said that he believed "the 718 will start the electrification of Porsche's sports cars". Meschke took things further, however, by revealing that he'd prefer the 718 to go straight to all-electric power - a move that would no doubt be driven by demand in China, which he revealed is on course to account for about 30 percent of Porsche's electrified vehicle sales alone.
The future of the 718 is therefore still rather murky at this stage, suggesting we've quite a while to wait before the speculation turns to fact. But reading between the lines of Porsche's high-ranking executives, it does look like non-GT-spec 718 Caymans and Boxsters are set for reinvigoration with two new powerplants. Meschke's battery-electric one and, fingers crossed, another that sings the much missed tune of a flat-six. Handy to have Blume on side for that one, you'd hope...