A huge, if temporary, sigh of relief.
In the automotive industry, perhaps no legacy manufacturer is diving into widespread electrification quite as hard as Volkswagen. By extension, its subsidiary brands are also taking quite an aggressive stance to embrace, even accelerate the ushering in of the post-combustion era of personal transportation.
Enter Porsche, which have been and are still today, one of the most famous automakers for loud, analogue, and high-revving naturally aspirated performance cars. The waters have become a bit murkier with their entire portfolio adopting turbochargers and certain models such as the Panamera and Cayenne offered as plug-in hybrids, but on the whole their reputation as a bastion of old school driving thrills remains solid.
Many enthusiasts recoiled at the Boxster and Cayman losing two cylinders and a pair of turbochargers put in their stead, and had further reason to assume darker clouds were ahead given the rumours that the then in-development 992 generation of 911 would be hybridised to incorporate electric drive motors and a large-is lithium battery - all in the pursuit of better fuel economy and fewer emissions.
Porsche had announced its own take on the high-performance fully electric vehicle with the Mission E, which would later evolve into the soon-to-be-unveiled Taycan, a competitor to the Tesla Model S. Many breathed a sigh of relief, seeing it as a way for Zuffenhausen to explore new territory without necessarily tampering with the existing line-up.
The 911 and the 718 were safe, then, perhaps. However, the anecdotal indications that the inevitable electrification of Porsche’s core performance models was imminent. And, in all honesty, it probably is just a matter of time. And the lack of a proper confirmation or denial from Porsche only exacerbated the anxiety.
This made the recent comment by Andreas Preuninger, the man in charge of all GT cars at Porsche, so much more impactful. He confirmed that the car’s he and his team were developing, were to remain as raw and unfettered by the larger machinations of electrification as they were. His point was only emphasised by the reveal of the Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder, which cemented the company’s commitment to internal combustion and the unique sensations they deliver.
Both cars feature new - and large - engines 4.0-litre engines and a return to the classic flat-6 format that has been painfully absent since both models were consolidated under the 718 banner. True to form, they have redlines past 8,000rpm and are uncorrupted by forced induction. The pair were a love letter to fans and enthusiasts disillusioned.
"There are ideas to maybe look in that direction for the normal sports car line but not for the GT cars," he said to Autocar. "If we would decide to make all the racing cars electrified overnight, then we would have a reason to look into that but, as always, it has to be a connection between the cars we use on the track to the cars we sell with a number plate attached."
From here, these cars will lay the foundations for a division within Porsche that is, in theory, independent of the undercurrents of electrification and efficiency-chasing, if Preuninger is to be believed.
“Luckily our board members support us with GT projects which are pure Porsche in a way the 911always was. In other teams, Porsche concentrates on fields such as digitalisation and electro-mobility. We’re in constant interchange but I don’t think we should put everything in one barrel. We have to have different cars to share different purposes and as long as this customer group is willing to buy our cars and enjoy the cars so much, why should we stop?”