It wasn’t that long ago when the only turbocharged Porsches were the designated “Turbo” models. Oh how the times have changed. Now nearly every Porsche-from the Boxster to the Panamera and even the 911- is turbocharged. As of this article, there are only 3 Porsche models still offered with a naturally aspirated engine: the 911 GT3, 911 GT3RS, and now the new 911 Speedster. The new 718 GT4 and Boxster Spyder are also rumored to have naturally aspirated engines but that’s it, 3 cars and 2 potential cars.
Objectively, this new turbocharged lineup is not a bad thing at all. The new engines are lighter, more powerful, and produce more torque than ever before. They also emit less C02 than their naturally aspirated predecessors meaning the EPA is happy. These engines also seem to drive just as well-if not better than their predecessors-according to automotive journalists.And hats off to Porsche for making such engaging and responsive turbocharged engines, they REALLY could have messed this up yet they didn’t. But at the end of the day, the saying still holds, “There’s no substitute for [naturally aspirated engines].”
Despite all of Porsche’s efforts to do otherwise, turbo lag, as little as it is, still exists and no exhaust system can undo the damage to an engine’s note caused by turbos. The new turbo engines seem to have lost their signature howls, their voices have been muffled. Rather than an angry flat 6, we now hear whistling turbos and the raw, untamed note inside the cabin, has been replaced by a fainter, more artificial sound.
Most people thought-myself included- that this current generation of 911 GT3, GT3RS, and Speedster was it. I thought that these 3 cars were Porsche’s last hurrah for natural aspiration, the end of an era; thank God we were all wrong.
It turns out that the heavily revised 4.0 liter flat 6 in the new 911 Speedster will carry over to future Porsche GT cars; natural aspiration is here to stay. “We’ve invested in the future with this engine. I can’t comment on future projects but we would be stupid not to re-use this engine somewhere…Our philosophy in GT cars is to stay naturally aspirated. We want to keep that engine for the future and that’s why we’ve made such a tremendous effort to get the engine right without taking emotion and performance away.” Clearly, Porsche’s GT Boss, Andreas Preuninger is on board with natural aspiration but one question remains, what will Porsche do about power?
The good thing about turbocharged engines is that power is available everywhere. A 30hp, 40hp, or even 70hp increase is just an ECU tune away, a friend of mine managed to get 80hp more out of his standard 991.2 Carrera with a simple tune. Naturally aspirated engines don’t have this luxury. The heavily reworked 4.0 liter flat 6 in the speedster only makes 10 hp more than its predecessor. So what will Porsche do to keep up with the competition? I think that this power constraint will force Porsche to build lighter weight cars with even better handling. A low curb weight and sharp handling are what make cars fun to drive.
Based on how well Porsche handled their new turbocharged engines, there’s no doubt in my mind that the next generation of GT cars will be out of this world, they will truly be proper, lightweight Porsches. What more could you ask for?
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