VW Group chairman Martin Winterkorn has given the first official confirmation that a new entry-level Porsche sports car is being evaluated.
Talking to Autocar in Wolfsburg as the new VW Polo received its the 2010 Car of the Year Award, Winterkorn said: "The Porsche model range is firmly based on the 911, Boxster, Cayenne and Cayman, and it will stay that way. We are also investigating opportunities for a smaller sports car and a smaller SUV - but I cannot say more at the moment."
When asked how likely the new models were to make production, he responded: "Let’s just say we do not usually waste our effort…"
Dubbed by some insiders as the “new 356”, the mid-engined machine will not, however, be a bargain basement model, despite initial rumours to the contrary. Given the final green light, it would cost from about £33,000 in today’s money.
Instead, the 356 is expected to be based on a new steel and aluminium platform that’s being developed by Audi for its own R4 mid-engined sports car.
Work on the R4 is already well advanced, and it’s due to be launched in June 2011. However, Porsche’s version of the car, which won’t arrive before late 2012, is expected to be significantly different.
Aside from its unique styling inside and out, the 356 is also expected to be one of the first Porsches to be fitted with a forced-induction flat four engine that is currently under development. This unit will also help ensure the Porsche and Audi have sharply different characters, even though the two cars have the same basic architecture.
It’s also likely that the Porsche will share its transmission with the Audi because the longitudinal unit used in the 911 and Boxster is thought to be too costly.
It’s expected the engine will be good for about 250bhp. That’s virtually the same as today’s entry-level Boxster, although fuel economy would surely be better.
However, there’s little chance that the 356 and Boxster will clash because, according to one rumoured product plan, the next-generation Boxster and Cayman could be moved sharply upmarket.