The Purists Won

Photo: Porsche

To be a part of the automotive industry is to hear an endless stream of moaning and complaining, especially when it comes to Porsche’s cars. If Porsche deviates at all from something it used to do, you never hear the end of it, such as when the Boxster and Cayman traded out their flat-six engines in favor of turbocharged flat-fours. And now Porsche has given in.

Top Gear and /DRIVEs’ Chris Harris took to Twitter last night to provide some musing on the new 718 Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder, both of which are offered with a flat-six engine and a six-speed manual like the purists always wanted.

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Harris calls the four-cylinder cars “least desirable,” but Porsche hasn’t said anything about kicking that engine out of the base model cars.

What’s more, it’s hard to say definitely that the four-cylinder engine hurt sales, even pulling sales figures from the gas-guzzling United States.

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Porsche introduced the flat-four with the 718 models in 2016. So, up until then, the cars were offered with the flat-six. Beyond that point, they came with the flat-four.

According to Porsche’s own United States sales figures, there was a dip, but not a big one, and it wasn’t extended. In 2015, the company reported 6,663 Boxster and Cayman models sold. Those numbers fell to 6,260 cars in 2016, 5,087 cars in 2017 and rose slightly to 5,276 in 2018.

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But if you stretch your view back a bit more, using the excellent sales database at GoodCarBadCar, you’ll see a downward trend on the U.S. sales of the Boxster since its most recent sales peak in 2013, as well as Cayman sales not dropping much at all even through ‘16. This is a time when, say, its rival the Audi TT was also sliding, sliding all the way off the market.

Sales aside, Harris does speak as a painfully serious Porsche nerd as much as he speaks to or for them, and it’s a bit of a bummer to see Porsche cave to their demands.

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Really, this is kind of a shame to me, personally, because frankly I thought the 718 Cayman was a delightful thing to wield. Sure, it didn’t have the sound and the high redline that its flat-six predecessors did, but it was still spirited and delightful and had plenty of torque to rocket around with. This engine deserved better.

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About the author

Kristen Lee

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.