Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
May 8th, 2012
Earlier this year, it was rumored that Porsche decided to cancel its plans to introduce a long-rumored, mid-engined compact roadster for 2014. Essentially a “baby Boxster,” the small Porsche roadster was expected to ring up at a price less than the next-generation Boxster, which is expected to grow in size and price.
It seems rumors of the little Porsche’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. According to Automobile magazine, the project — codenamed “551” or “Mimo” — was indeed up in the air at one point but is back on the table.
The Porsche 551 was originally set to be a fraternal twin to the production version of Volkswagen’s BlueSport concept shown at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. However, VW recently deemed the BlueSport project as too costly and with too limited appeal to sell in significant sales volumes. Since the 551 was previously linked to the BlueSport so that Porsche could benefit from a larger economy of scale, VW backing away from producing the BlueSport put the 551 in question.
Now its rumored that the Porsche 551 will be introduced for 2017 instead, using a smaller lower-cost version of the company’s new MSB-M platform that will also form the basis of the next-generation Boxster and Cayman. Said to be powered by a new 1.6 liter four-cylinder boxer engine with either a single or twin turbo setup, the 1.6 will produce anywhere between 180 horsepower for the base 551 models to 240 in a range-topping 551 R. Prices are said to start at around 30,000 euros (or $45,000 dollars) and the car will follow the premise of the classic 550 Spyder (hence the “551” codename).
Before Porsche begins building the 551, it will focus on its other upcoming “cash cows” first. Currently on the table are the sub-Cayenne Macan crossover, the rumored “Pajun” small sedan, and an all new Panamera, in addition to finishing up the upcoming 918 Spyder flagship and the 960 supercar.
Aside from the 551, there’s also new speculation concerning the Stuttgart firm’s 960 supercar project. The 960 is supposed to be a model which will bridge the gap between the flagship 918 Spyder and the range-topping versions of the company’s primary mainstay, the 911. Said to be based on a version of the aforementioned MSB-M platform and powered by a mid-engined turbo boxer six, the 960 was previously thought to be a traditional two-door supercar. Now, information from Automobile seems to suggest that Porsche’s “Ferrari fighter” will be a four-door coupe.
While the prospect of a four-door coupe capable of wrestling a Prancing Horse is certainly interesting, taking the idea with a grain of salt would probably be best advised.