Porsche’s decision to build a whole new, naturally-aspirated flat-six for the 718 Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder siblings raised many eyebrows. Yes, the 4.0-litre ‘9A2 Evo’ engine (below) may be related to the turbocharged ‘9A2’ used in the 911 Carrera models, but there’s precious little carryover.
Stuttgart has lobbed a considerable amount of money at the thing, so it wasn’t a shock to see the unit appear in the rejuvenated 718 Cayman and Boxster GTS. Nor should we be surprised that Porsche is going to keep it in production for as long as possible, which will help the investment be recouped. It will stick around for longer than you might have expected, though.
Speaking to Car Throttle at the launch of the 718 GTS siblings, vice president of 911 and 718 product lines Dr Frank Walliser gave us some idea of the engine’s future. We know it already complies with Euro 6DG-Temp emissions rules - helped by the use of cylinder shut-off technology and petrol particulate filters - which will take 9A2 Evo to January 2021. But, it’s set to satisfy the incoming ‘AP’ legislation also.
“AP comes and has to be fulfilled…AP is the end of [Euro 6-DG-] Temp, that should last until end of 23,” Walliser said, adding, “Then we hope for three years of silence, and then we expect a small improvement in the AP and then the next big move will come in 26, Euro 7.”
If you’re struggling to wrap your head around all those different rating codes, what you need to know is this - the engine will live on until 2023 at least, and probably 2026. Euro 7 is still an unknown at this stage, so it’s tricky to predict whether or not the flat-six could survive past that point.
Will that be the time of the Cayman and Boxster’s long-rumoured switch to electric power only? Walliser wouldn’t give any strong hints either way. “The question is how quick will the markets develop. Is it feasible? Will it be still a cool car? This is what we have to consider - how can we keep the spirit of the car; the soul of the car.”
Porsche’s first foray into the world of EVs does prove it could work, Walliser reckons. “Taycan showed we can make electric cars that keep the Porsche feeling, the Porsche soul. They drive like a Porsche, they feel like a Porsche,” he said, adding, “If we could bring something like that to a sports car…why not. In these days we have to look at all the alternatives - we have to look at hybrids, we have to look at full electric cars, at normally-aspirated engines.”
It’s that final point which is key - against all odds, Porsche will be keeping natural-aspiration going long after most rivals call it quits. “[In the] year 2020 [Porsche is] offering a 4.0-litre normally aspirated engine, so it gives us a USP. We are also selling emotions and doing things that are not expected.”