The wreck of James Dean's Porsche 550 Spyder, nicknamed "Little Bastard"
Entry-level Porsche Roadster rendering
This spring, Porsche chief Matthias Mueller said the company would release a new model every year through 2018. One of those models is expected to be a Porsche 550 Spyder successor positioned below the Boxster.
We have, of course, been hearing rumors about just such a car ever since the Volkswagen Bluesport roadster debuted in Detroit in 2009--alternately cast as a 914 or 356 revival, but most recently, as a spiritual successor to the 550.
The latest news includes talk of a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for 200 or more horsepower. That could translate not only to excellent performance, as long as the curb weight is kept in check, but to very good fuel economy, too.
The Chevy Cruze Eco, for instance, uses a torquey 1.4-liter four-cylinder to achieve 42 mpg highway--in a not-so-weight-conscious four-door economy sedan. Drop a similar engine in a lighter roadster, and the figures could be very impressive.
We don't expect the smallest Porsche roadster to make its debut until sometime in mid-to-late 2014, however, so at this point, even Porsche may not have a clear idea which engine it will use. When it does come, however, it should be one of Porsche's most interesting new additions in recent years.