Talk of an entry-level Porsche, possibly based on a collaborative platform with Volkswagen's Bluesport roadster (pictured), has been circling the web for over a year now. With Porsche's renewed focus on making not just limited-volume, purist sports cars--see Cayenne, Panamera--the entry-level, sub-Boxster idea makes a lot of sense.
In fact, such a car could tie Porsche's commercial necessities and its sports car heritage together in a way that no one except elitists would object to. An affordable, balanced, and fun-to-drive mid/rear engine sports car would satisfy the purists, while selling lots of them would satisfy the bottom line.
The latest report says the sub-Boxster model could be a "new 356"--a re-envisioning of the model that launched Porsche onto the global sportscar scene. The platform would be less related to the Volkswagen Bluesport and more to the Audi R4, though all three would share elements according to previous reports.
Audi's R4 is actually expected to launch by summer of 2011, so the Porsche model could be along within a year of that date if development moves forward briskly. Power would be expected to come from a flat four-cylinder displacing about 1.9 liters with a possible mild turbocharging setup or a supercharger for around 250 horsepower.
The reborn 356 would of course get its own unique Porsche-designed interior and exterior, so as to be easily distinguishable from its corporate platform mates.
At the right weight such a car could rival the Lotus Exige in outright performance while costing somewhat less, at least in the U.S. Currently the Boxster and Boxster S are fairly close price rivals to the Lotus Elise and Exige, though their heavier weight and greater power output slot them into a different class.
All of this discussion is far from official, however, and with Porsche's ongoing financial difficulties and new Volkswagen ownership interest, there's a lot that could yet change before the summer of 2012.