In the US at least – before the global figures are released by Stuttgart in March – Porsche sold fewer sports cars in 2019 than the year before. Maybe the new Porsche 718 GTS 4.0 models will fix that with their flat-sixes…
Porsche sells a lot of SUVs, so many in fact that buyers are eating into 911 and 718 sales. The Porsche 911 for example went through a slight dip, at least looking at the US market, and sales of the mid-engined 718 models were down around 40% compared to 2018. You could blame it on lack of attention because last year all eyes were on the new Macan GTS and Taycan.
To reinvigorate the 718 for 2020 and bring back the customers, Porsche has paid some attention to the 718 line. When Zuffenhausen first launched the model in 2016 there were a lot of excuses on offer as to why the free-revving flat-six engine in the middle was replaced by a new turbocharged flat-four. Emissions laws were blamed – from 2021 the EU will fine any manufacturer 95 euros for every gram above the allowed limit of 95g/km of CO2.
Now Porsche seems to have forgotten all about that, or perhaps the Germans too got a bit bored of the drone in the back of a whining, force-fed 718. Which is why they decided to go back on their word to what they know best, naturally-aspirated high-revving flat-sixes.
Sure, you can get a GT4 with a flat-six, but Porsche’s GT stuff tends to be rarefied. The new Porsche 718 GTS 4.0 models, available in the Cayman coupe body style or the Boxster soft-top, is thus a more affordable ticket into a mid-engined sports car powered by a 4.0-litre six-cylinder just like in the GT4, with a slight detune so the line-up hierarchy still makes sense.
Not that there’s much wrong with 400 horsepower and a rev needle going nearly to 8,000rpm. Spec the sports exhaust (Sport Chrono is standard) and you get a top speed of 293km/h and zero to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. Also thrown in is torque vectoring and a mechanical limited slip differential, plus a 20mm lower suspension. As part of the GTS package the 4.0 models additionally get bigger brakes and 20-inch alloy wheels fitted with performance tyres. For some extra cash you can have carbon ceramic brakes.
The order book is already open although Porsche hasn’t disclosed local pricing yet, with the first models expected to reach Middle Eastern customers from May 2020. Looking at the line-up however you can expect the 718 GTS 4.0 to slot in between the regular 718 and the GT4, which means it should start from around AED300,000 or roughly $80,000.