The Porsche 911 and Boxster/Cayman have become so closely related that it's difficult to tell where one model line ends and the other begins. That will begin to change when their replacements make their debut in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The new Boxster (981) and 911 (991) will again be under-the-skin siblings, but while the 911 remains the emphatically dynamic high-end model with a power output of up to 600 hp and with a strong emphasis on new six-cylinder boxer engines, the Boxster and Cayman will eventually shift toward four-cylinder power. In addition, last-minute changes to the design encouraged by the new bosses at Volkswagen are said to position the car more clearly. Positioning is indeed critical, as the new Boxster not only has to worry about the 911 above it, but also a whole family of smaller mid-engine cars below it, including one for Porsche.
The new 911 is expected to debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Show, with the Boxster appearing at Detroit in January 2012.The next Boxster is not an evolution of the current model but an all-new vehicle. Its cab-forward design looks quite different, and this theme was indeed essential for the much crisper and sportier proportions. The wheelbase will extend by nearly 2.5 inches, contributing to an overall growth in length of about 1.5 inches. The extended wheelbase helps to increase legroom and improve ride quality and directional stability. Despite the increase in size and a deluge of new equipment, weight will come down by 35 pounds or so, to about 2910 pounds for the Boxster and 2950 pounds for the Boxster S.
Cues that visually differentiate the Boxster from the 911 include different doors and lights, jazzier front and rear ends, restyled 18-inch wheels (19 inches for the S), a more steeply raked windshield, and, of course, rear side panels incorporating the necessary air intakes. The interior, too, has been redesigned from scratch, featuring a relatively wide center stack, higher-class surfaces and the large touchscreen monitor borrowed from the Panamera and new Cayenne. More upscale bits include keyless access and start, radar-based cruise control, and a Burmester sound system.
The strut-type front axle and the multilink rear suspension have been re-engineered for better handling and reduced noise. Also new are 13-inch brake rotors all around. There's more electronic wizardry, including adaptive suspension management (PASM), which extends to the steering and the dual-clutch transmission, torque vectoring, and an electrically operated parking brake.
In the near term, the base model will go back to a 2.7-liter six-cylinder with output slightly higher than the current 2.9-liter, which puts out 255 hp. The new 3.4-liter S version delivers 315 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. When fitted with PDK, the lesser model will accelerate in 5.7 seconds from 0-62 mph and top out at an unchanged 162 mph. The Boxster S does the sprint in 4.9 seconds; its maximum speed is 169 mph, the same as before. Prices are expected to increase by seven percent.
The lighter weight, more efficient engines, refined aerodynamics, and new features such as auto start-stop, regenerative braking, and new electrically-assisted power steering add up to an 18-percent drop in fuel consumption.
When the first round of cosmetic and engineering modifications is due in 2015, Porsche will introduce a new four-cylinder boxer engine, sources claim. It will likely be a 2.5-liter twin-turbo delivering up to 360 hp and 350 lb-ft. If marketing agrees, the entire range could eventually switch to the new drivetrain. A smaller 1.6-liter version of the new engine will likely power the family of smaller mid-engine cars, including the rumored 356. One or two turbochargers, a reduced friction lightweight valvetrain, and a secret new combustion process are said to greatly enhance the efficiency of these advanced horizontally opposed powerplants. There is even room for a hybrid pack which will be incorprated in the PDK transmission housing. And although the customers may not yet be ready for a diesel-engine Boxster/Cayman, converting the new boxer to TDI technology is said to be difficult but doable.