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Porsche 718 Cayman et Boxster GTS : retour aux sources

Décidément, l’année commence plutôt bien pour les amateurs de sportives, avec des constructeurs qui semblent plus motivés que jamais à promouvoir le plaisir de conduire. Et pour cause, après Lamborghini qui fait apppel à la propulsion pour sa nouvelle Huracan EVO RWD, c’est au tour de Porsche de nous gratifier d’un superbe cadeau pour bien démarrer 2020. Ce sont même deux surprises que nous découvrons aujourd’hui, avec les toutes nouvelles 718 Cayman et Boxster GTS 4.0, qui s’apprêtent à faire leur entrée dans le catalogue de la marque de Stuttgart. Une excellente nouvelle, surtout pour les fans de flat-six, puisque celui-ci fait cette fois-ci son grand retour sous le capot des deux sportives, qui l’avaient alors délaissé au profit d’un quatre cylindres 2,5 litres.

Ici, les puristes découvrent donc un six-cylindres 4,0 litres à plat et surtout atmosphérique, développant quelque 400 chevaux pour 420 Nm de couple. Une configuration, qui, associée à une boîte manuelle à six rapports vient donc coiffer la gamme, en complément des versions de 300 et 350 chevaux déjà proposés. Le 0 à 100 km/h est ici abattu en 4,5 secondes, tandis que le comportement routier est quant à lui optimisé grâce à l’abaissement de la hauteur de caisse de 20 mm. Outre cette petite évolution, l’ensemble reste donc identique aux versions standard, cette version GTS étant toutefois livrée de série avec le pack Sport Chrono, incluant entre autres le Porsche Torque Vectoring, ainsi qu’un différentiel à glissement limité mécanique à l’arrière. Enfin, la suspension active…

 

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The Appeal of the Flat Engine

 

Thanks to its flat layout, the 718 Boxster S’ 2.5-liter four is incredibly compact, making it ideal for packaging concerns, weight distribution, and handling dynamics.

Along with that telltale silhouette of the heavy-haunched 911, the other item synonymous with the Porsche brand is the flat engine. The first example of this configuration was constructed by Carl Benz in 1896; built with the same basic layout as the current crop of Porsche’s flat engines.

Thanks to that odd configuration of cylinders, with opposing banks flanking the crankshaft, the flat engine offers an ideal center of gravity. Traction goes hand-in-hand with the flat-engine sitting squat over the rear axle, and that engine placement aids in braking as well; the load is evenly distributed over all four tires during heavy deceleration. Just another reason why the flat motor, when mounted over the rear axle, is a combination that will never get stale.

Though flat engines are complicated when compared to inline engines, they compensate with their lightweight construction, their smooth operation thanks to a balanced crank, and their high specific output due to advantageous charge cycles. They don’t use balance shafts, since the masses counteract each other due to the cylinder layout, which thereby trims heft. Plus, few engines have as seductive a sound as a flat-six when revved to the redline.

It’s funny to think that Carl Benz’s original flat motor only displaced 1.7 liters and made a paltry 5 horsepower. Fast forward 120 years, and that same configuration, as used in the 991 GT2 RS, can displace 3.8 liters and make 700 horsepower comfortably, all while retaining great weight distribution, streetability, and a relatively compact package. If that isn’t a testament to the worthiness of the flat layout, I’m not sure what is.

120 years after its inception, the flat engine provides all the handling and dynamic abilities any demanding enthusiast could want.

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Gunther Werks 400R driven: best ever 993?

“I said they were out of their minds. Bespoke bodywork, running gear and everything else that goes along with building a custom car in that short a time. ‘We’re not a TV show, we’ll not do it in a week’”. That was owner of Rothsport Racing, Jeff Gamroth’s response when the call came from Peter Nam at Gunther Werks. They didn’t do it in a week, as Gamroth said, this was not a TV show, but the sheer persistence of Peter Nam and his team saw the 400R to go from concept to the car I’m sitting in today in just six months.

I stumbled across the project mid-summer, Gunther Werks drip-feeding a Facebook group some details of what would become the 400R. If you’ve never heard of the firm before that’s no surprise – I hadn’t. Gunther Werks is a new company, but it’s not come from nowhere. Nam owns Vorsteiner, which specialises in aftermarket wheels and carbon fibre styling for premium manufacturers, Gunther Werks is a natural progression of that. With it Nam has been extremely clever, assembling a team of highly respected names in the air-cooled Porsche community to create the 400R. The a-list roster includes Jeff from Rothsport Racing, Joey Seely from E-Motion Engineering and Carey Eisenloher.

The idea itself, is a simple one. Take a 993 and develop it as if Porsche hadn’t replaced the 993 with the 996 twenty years ago. Not as a mere Carrera though, but as a GT3. Different to the usual backdates, then, this is more of a continuation, bringing the car forward rather than modernising mechanically with a reverential stylistic nod backwards. The 400R is a 993 for today, the past blast forwarded into the present, using modern technology to enhance and improve, all without denying it of its original appeal and driver appeal. Building on it. That was a key goal, Nam determined to create the very best 993 as it could be now, focussed on driving, Gunther Werks demanding that its customers don’t buy it as a trinket, but as a car to be used. And used as intended – hard.

If the concept sounds easy the execution is anything but. It is genuinely difficult to comprehend that the 400R was a standard, pre-Varioram Carrera 2 back in May 2017. To create it Gunther Werks tasked its team…

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Classic icons: Porsche 911T v 911E v 911S

In issue 159 of Total 911 we compared the 991.2 Carrera, GTS and Turbo S, declaring them the “modern-day interpretations of the 911 T, E and S”. Now, we’re rewinding the clock 45 years to the classic originals. Meet the mainstream F-series range as it was in 1973, the final year of the ‘long bonnet’ before the impact-bumpered G-series arrived, a move which changed the 911’s look forever.

Why ‘mainstream’? Well, as Porsche enthusiasts, we all have ‘1973’ branded on our collective consciousness as the year of the first road-going Rennsport. The Carrera 2.7 RS is a fully paid-up icon and arguably the greatest 911 ever made, yet, then as now, it was exclusive and expensive. So, just as we excluded GT models from our 991.2 triple test, the RS fails to fit the brief here.

The three-tier 911 hierarchy was established in 1968, when the entry-level T (Touring) and mid-range L (Luxury) joined the flagship S (Super) – the latter introduced in 1967. At this stage, all had 2.0-litre engines and a 2,210mm wheelbase. The carburettor-fed L gave way to the fuel-injected E (Einspritzung) in 1969, when wheelbase was lengthened to 2,271mm. A year later, the flat six grew to 2.2-litres, then 2.4-litres in 1972. The 2.4 F-series models were thus in production for just two years, compared with 15 for the G-series.

The three cars gathered today – kindly sourced by Paul Stephens in Essex – all hail from 1973, and look near identical at first glance. Get closer, though, and it’s apparent there are detail differences, most obviously the colour of the engine shroud: black on the 130hp T, green on the 165hp E and red on the 190hp S. However, as those power outputs suggest, by far the biggest difference is felt on the road.

I start in the middle with the 911E: a model Paul describes as “undervalued”. This particular example is resplendent in Light ivory (colour code: 131) on polished 6×15-inch Fuchs. It’s the only UK car here, which explains the round door mirrors – both the T and S are US imports and sport rectangular mirrors – while the absence of optional bumper over-riders or chrome wheel arch trims results in a cleaner look.

The E being a right-hooker helps me acclimatise more quickly, yet there’s still much that feels alien about a 911 of this era. The hand throttle, a hinged choke lever nestled between the seats, is one notable quirk, as are floor-hinged pedals that force you to skew your legs towards the centre of the car. Unassisted steering and a five-speed 915 gearbox that’s obstructive when cold are further features that would confound drivers of modern machines – not least anyone accustomed to water-cooled 911s.

To read the full article on our Porsche 911T vs E vs S mega test, pick up a copy of Total 911 issue 161, in shops now and available to buy here or download.

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Un flat six pour la prochaine Porsche Boxster Spyder

Les choses se précisent pour le retour du six cylindres à plat dans le cabriolet allemand. Alors qu’une nouvelle version Spyder est en cours de développement, l’on apprend que le flat sera de retour sous le capot. Et pas n’importe lequel, puisqu’il s’agirait de celui équipant la 911 GT3, dans une version dégonflée. Les mois […]

Cet article Un flat six pour la prochaine Porsche Boxster Spyder est apparu en premier sur le blog auto.

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